We’ve previously established there are innumerable things I’ll attempt in the name of coming up with a freakin blog post journalism.
I’ve awkwardly swung a kettlebell.
This time, however, I’m letting you down.
I’ve decided upon a post topic I found intriguing (if by intriguing you mean mildly nut-jobbish—which I do) yet one which this MizFit is far too fearful (and delicate) to attempt.
What fitness endeavor turned this intrepid writer squeamish?
Yep, you read that correctly.
There’s a contingent of runners regularly exiting their domiciles barefoot and not merely to jog to the mailbox & back praying their In Touch weekly hath arrived.
In addition, if you buy into the group’s motto: one foot at a time, one sole at a time, one hell of a good time, then I’ve not only failed you but deprived myself of a damn enjoyable escapade in the process.
According to its practitioners, the notion of barefoot running started at the beginning.
The beginning, they contend, of us.
Sure we all commence our lives barefoot (and in many cases spend our entire first year that way) yet the fact we also spend the majority of this same year crawling seems not to lessen their zeal-like passion for this point.
In the minds of many barefoot runners the very reason our ancestors survived was the fact they frequently remained shoeless through adulthood.
Those who escaped from predators ran swiftly (according to individuals like Ken Saxton, editor of the web
site runningbarefoot.org) because their healthy, bare feet enabled them to learn to run properly.
If you’re anything like I am, your initial reaction to Saxton’s words is one of confusion.
It was only after a few readings I ‘got’ his point that the discomfort which at times accompanies barefoot running is a gift because of what it tells the runner.
Pain can, indeed, be a signal for us to change our gait or tweak our stride a fact I’m quickly learning is true as I train for my own shoe-clad race.
In Saxton’s mind, only through serving as your own foot whisperer (my phrase not his) will you ever learn to run properly and pain free.
This assertion baffled the newbie-runner in me.
My feet can throb after just *wearing* shoes for twelve hours. How badly might they ache if I jogged barefoot for a mile or two?
The barefoot running community would answer a resounding: far less.
They believe our feet were designed to keep us moving upright, at varying speeds and do so in total comfort. Feet weren’t created, in their opinion, to be swathed in leather or canvas without being sore later.
We think we need shoes, they’d contend, as a reaction to skilled marketing campaigns and a desire for moneymaking by shoe companies. (MizFit note: I must add that at this point in my research I was thinking constantly of this blogger who is my sole provider of shoe porn.)
I’m nothing if not a skeptic, but I felt my anti-barefoot running resolve weaken.
Why did I love my running shoes?
Was it the support they provided or had I bought into the notion they’d make me faster, stronger, lighter on my feet and look pretty damn snazzy as well.
Grab a sneaker and plop it on it on a flat surface. See how the front of the shoe curves slightly upward?
This curl is added to encourage a heel-to-toe rolling movement when the wearer walks or runs, yet a rolling motion has been shown to cause potential injury to the wearer’s knees and back.
Now stand barefoot and check out how your toes are positioned.
Are they naturally curving upward or gripping downward against the floor?
Barefoot running made much more intellectual sense after I completed this little experiment.
Quite honestly I couldn’t get past what I deemed the ick factor of potential disease.
While this isn’t a much discussed topic I’m convinced it poses a rather large danger that my fancypants Nike Air Rifts prevent.
Puncture wounds (!), even on soles thickened over time, pose a real and frequent threat.
One irrefutable fact is the need to start slow no matter your shoe-clad fitness level.
It’s suggested one walk before running to allow the soles of the feet to thicken properly (why does that phrase make me throw up a little in my mouth?).
Sites such as runningbarefoot.org encourage newbies to stroll barefoot at every opportunity before progressing running and, only after time, should one attempt long barefoot running sessions.
Foot acclimation can vary, but the consensus is it takes three or four weeks to prepare the feet to pound the pavement.
In the end, I wasn’t convinced enough to attempt an outdoor barefoot run.
The promise of running barefoot (imagined as childlike frolicking whist birds weave garlands in my hair) was compelling yet my older, wiser, wet-blanket self really had zero interest in risking injury easily avoided by covering my feet.
As a result, if you need me this morning you can find my cynical-arse running my neighborhood marathon training.
Shoes firmly intact.