Happy New Years! Also, let’s talk about running unshod.

posted in Running on Dec 30, 2010

As it turns out, I haven’t written anything about anything in a long, long while, and since I have had at least one post on this site every month for the last decade or so, I figure that putting down a few words to get a timestamp would really be the best thing for all of us. You can stop here if you really want, but there will be even more words after this paragraph!

This past year has marked a nice change of pace for yours truly in terms of health. This blog of blogs – outside of some rather odd posts – has pretty much served as a chronicle of my running activities since I started the act earlier in the year. As of this writing, I have put down seventy-five miles running both in my Vibrams and unshod. I have come to the conclusion that if you run with shoes you are a sissy, but I will never say that to your face because I am a class act.

Since I haven’t written anything about running bare-barefoot yet, I might as well give you the run(ha!)down. After putting in the majority of miles in my Vibrams over the past year, on a lark I decided to run without them for a mile or so. Having read that you get an even greater feeling by slapping your feet to the concrete, as it were, I took on the challenge about a month or so. I can tell you right now that it initially doesn’t feel that splendid. Even after months of running in Vibrams and a year and a half of simply wearing them, the actual skin on my feet were not much more calloused than they were before that. The coarse road started to feel like it was pulling at my skin as I went. My feet became much warmer than they normally do as a result of added blood to the area. I could only assume they were thinking, “What the hell is happening here?” And it was essentially true; the road had pulled and stretched the skin on the bottom of my feet. When I had finished, along with very dark and dirty feet, there hung some pulled skin.

That all sounds much grosser than it really is. You wash your feet and pull off the skin and you are good to go. There is a tenderness to running this way that you will experience at first, but like the initial transition away from shoes to Vibrams, going unshod took some time as well. On successive journeys, I have upped my distance unshod and stayed at a consistent mileage time. My feet have became pretty accustomed to the sensations of this type of running on cement that now it’s not that big of a deal. The cold weather has kept me from running in this fashion more than anything, which is a shame.

“But what about glass and rocks?! You do realize there exists on this planet glass and rocks, don’t you?! In your path, on your run, there may very well be glass AND rocks AND maybe sticks! WHAT ABOUT THAT? THAT’S JUST SO UNSAFE ACCORDING TO WHAT MY MOM TOLD ME WHEN I WAS FIVE!” Oh good, the same questions people ask when they see me walking in my Vibrams. The total jerk answer I sometimes think in my mind while raising an eyebrow, shrugging my shoulders, and answering a question with a question is: deal with it? What I actually say, however, generally amounts to “It’s not bad. You just learn to watch your surroundings more.” And that same answer applies here. When running barefoot and you see some rocks up ahead just don’t run on them. I don’t find the concept to be overly difficult, but it somehow shakes some people to their core. To each their own, really. This simplistic view is not to say that I don’t sustain minor cuts here that there. That happens. You just deal with it and move on. I will concede that in more urban areas it may be a little more difficult to take such a blase attitude to street running barefoot, but on the whole I feel like much of the apprehension people feel could be allayed by simply being more aware of their surroundings.

And so that’s my story about running unshod. I hope to expand my distance in the coming year when it gets a little warmer. My fear right now is that it my actually end up getting too hot in the summer to run on concrete in this way, but that remains to be seen. When that time comes, I suppose the best thing to do would be to just deal with it.

As a last attempt for the year to drive home how silly “modern” running shoes are, I want you to look at this:

What the hell is this all about? And people call Vibrams ugly. Nike and Reebok seem to be grasping at straws at this point, trying to make their antiquated running shoes seem necessary. I eagerly await the day when they concede it was all for naught.