Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Will Not Abide Another Toe

Did everyone in my neighborhood read my blog yesterday? My barefoot running debut was met with a parade of onlookers -- dog walkers, tubby children playing, yard workers, loiterers, miscreants and vagrants -- all of whom witnessed my first shoeless saunter down the avenue.

The pitter-patter of my size 11s (11.5-12 in shoes) turned many a head on my 20-minute run. One bearded weirdie working in his lawn cocked his head and addressed the other bearded weirdie running by, "How's it going?"

"Not too bad," I said as I chuckled at the curious tone in his voice. I could hear the whispers after I passed.

Oh yes, running barefoot attracts some interesting responses.

Just the mere mention of going shoeless stirred up a cacophony slurs in yesterday's comments. The shod hurled verbal stones at the unshod in hopes of bruising their metaphysical soles. The barefooters -- well, barefooter, actually -- slung mud back at the closed-toed. The encamped runners toe their respective party line. "You're doing it wrong," both groups say.

Tone it down, people. I piss the farthest on this site.

Running barefoot is an odd experience. At first I was tentative. I had to keep telling myself to relax. My feet went, flap-flap-flap-flap. And my mouth went, "Eep! Opp! Orf! Ah-ah!" I kept waiting for my feet to numb, but that never happened.

My first time out, I encountered many obstacles in the road. I skirted around glass and a piece of fender. I danced around twigs and pine cones. But despite my best efforts, I still landed hard with my heal on a pebble. Today, my feet feel like two schnitzels, pounded flat and tender.

Although I only ran for 1.8 miles, my legs felt tired and shaky in places where they don't normally. Little muscles around my knees buzzed with effort. My calves especially feel like they got a workout. I will definitely give barefoot running another try, but next time maybe I'll try something other than asphalt.

In an odd bit of coincidence, my Runner's World arrived yesterday. I flipped it open after my run to find a feature called "How it Feels to ..." about such varied running experiences like breaking a world record, racing in a costume, and of course running barefoot.

The magazine showed Ken Bob Saxton of RunningBarefoot.org, who said when he encounters something sharp like a pebble, "I relax and let my foot mold around the object." Ah-ha! That's what I did wrong. Not enough molding.


Ms. V. said...

saw him in RW...he is exactly what I imagine a barefoot runner is: just needs some granola.

Sun Runner said...

I keep eyeing the pair of Vibram Five Fingers I have in my closet...pondering the wisdom of trying something so radically new this close to my marathon or playing it safe and not doing anything until after November 1. But I will be trying those babies out eventually (just in time for winter!).

Vanilla said...

You're a barefoot runner now? Why, because I didn't make fun of you enough before?

BTW, congrats on the marathon PR while I was away from the internets and thanks for missing me enough to mention it in a post.

joyRuN said...

I went from my neighbor's house to my house barefoot on asphalt a few weeks ago. Hurt like a bitch.

Last week I went barefoot on the soccer field for less than a mile. That felt MUCH better.

Mike Antonucci said...

I'll never run barefoot, but Ken Bob does have a cool logo.

X-Country2 said...

I give it 2 weeks before you step in dog crap. Mold that!

TallGuySurfing said...

Found your blog off Caution: Redhead Running's blog so I've started to follow with interest! I'm a surfer first, runner second. We surfers prefer to go barefoot. I run barefoot on the beach about every other week to cross train my running. I find the beach sand much more forgiving than asphalt. Sounds like you don't have a beach, but maybe a well groomed trail? Good luck with it. It really is amazing at how many different muscles you use going barefoot!

Al's CL Reviews said...

Be careful not to stomp on needles, condoms, broken glass and dog BMs.

Or is that just in my 'hood?

Bill said...

I thought "Eep! Opp! Ork! Ah-ah!" means "I love you", does what you said mean "I love this"? Cause it doesn't sound like you love this.

BrianFlash said...

Congrats on your latest escapade.

I think it is 100% likely that I will never be a barefoot runner.

KimsRunning said...

Try the Vibram 5 Fingers...I love mine!

The Enthusiast said...

Sounds like a success! Just be weary of certain roads/sidewalks... this is Akron after all. (Hrm, but if you ran by the Goodyear HQ would the sidewalks be made of rubber??)

Jess said...

I like not having to worry about stepping on needles or some other crap like that...shoes all the way.