My friend Beth has a blog, C. Beth Blog, where she shares recipes, her children's adventures (known as Chickie and Zoodle on the net)and just life in all its specialness, uniqueness, wonderfulness and of course its sometimes bizarre and bittersweet nature. Her blog is often heart-warming,and always real. She is always discovering something new, or a really cool new hobbie and shares it with the rest of us. One of the things that she's covered recently is a developing passion, for running barefoot. Yeah, you read that right, barefoot. From her most recent blog entry, "That's right, I'm venturing into the exciting world of barefoot running....No, this isn't a belated April Fool's Day joke! Sure, barefoot running is still on the fringe in modern America, but humans ran barefoot for a long time before shoes were invented, and in parts of the world, barefoot is still the norm. It seems to be gaining popularity in the U.S. too!
I started getting intrigued by the idea of running either barefoot or in "minimalist" shoes that mimic barefoot running, as I heard from others online who love this type of running. At first I just read with interest, even as I planned to purchase another pair of running shoes. But the more I researched, the more I realized it was something I wanted to try.
You can find lots of information online about barefoot running, but the basic idea is this: Our feet were made to be barefoot; shoes are a (relatively) modern invention. When we run barefoot, our running form naturally improves. Many believe that those who run barefoot are therefore less likely to suffer from running-related aches, pains, and injuries, though studies need to be done to confirm that hypothesis.
Many runners also use minimalist shoes, designed to mimic being barefoot while still protecting the soles. I will probably get some of these funky-looking Vibram Five Fingers. If the ground is too cold, too hot, or particularly difficult to run on, I'll still be able to run with proper form in Vibrams. But this article convinced me to start out totally shoeless. By letting my sensitive soles feel the ground completely, my form naturally improves. Proper form is more gentle on the feet, so our bodies naturally try to figure out what that proper form is when our feet can feel everything.
So twice this week I've gone outside and done warm-up walks and short runs, barefoot. I've run on both the asphalt road and on concrete sidewalks. My soles need to toughen up, and I'm still learning to have a better running form, but so far I love it! My feet feel so light, and in this hot weather my whole body is cooler when my feet are free from shoes. I like the feel of not striking the ground first with my heel. (Running shoes encourage a heelstrike.)
When I was a little kid (me, Laurel), I was always walking around barefoot. I loved it. It was natural for me, and my first independent statement of how I defined myself. So in virtue of my past, I was intrigued with Beth's new interest. I went and looked at one of the sites that sells/gives information on minimalist shoes and, or sports that can be excelled at barefooted. Here's a site that I checked out, http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/barefooting/index.cfm, and a direct link by clicking on the word, link. :-). Beth also mentions this site above. The only thing about barefoot running is that as a kid walking around barefoot, I always got an unusual amount of splinters in my feet. Oh well :-).