I’ve been reading the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. I’m about 90 pages from finished, so I won’t make this the book review post – but inspired by the over all theme of the book (barefoot running), I went on my first ever barefoot run tonight.
It started out well. I was running on the sidewalk but I jumped out on the street when the sidewalk was full of leaves and debris. I got about a quarter mile from the house and I stepped on a rock, rolled it under my foot to the soft arch and stepped down on it hard!
It hurt. A lot. BUT… I kept going. I was able to get to the long stretches of grass and that is where I found relief. Running on the grass while in my shoes is not a pleasant experience. Its difficult and slows me down. But running barefoot in the grass is amazing!
My feet felt great and I felt like I was running gently. I wasn’t pounding or smacking my feet down. I was traveling smoothly across the grass. It felt natural and pleasant. I was truly enjoying my run in a way I have never felt before.
When I past the first mile at 10:49, I knew this was going to be a fast run. When I had to come off the grass to the sidewalk or asphalt in order to cross a street, I felt myself slow down; cautiously, naturally.
Then I hit the grass and without effort or thought I found myself speeding up. Almost as if I needed to catch up to where I would have been before leaving the ground to the unnatural concrete and blacktop.
When I hit my second mile at 9:39, I knew this could be a new PR 5k for me. I started to think about that and found myself speeding up on purpose and then feeling the fatigue of that effort and then slowing down as a result. I started to doubt myself.
When I turned down my street, I left behind those long green havens for my barefeet in exchange for rocks, leaves, and sticks left carelessly on the sidewalks and in the streets by landscapers and a few neighborhood kids, who were likely bored waiting on their buss the day before. The pace was slower than I wanted; both from self doubt and caution to not press another sharp object into the arch of my foot.
I hit mile three at 9:56 and I pick up the pace for the last tenth of a mile. I finished with a 5k time of 31:33… that’s 35 seconds off my prior personal record! Of course I also am in better shape than ever before and I weigh a great deal less than I did when I set that prior PR.
Over all I’ll say barefoot might seem like a crazy idea, but if you can do it – you should. It truly was amazing!