Well, it’s 10:40am here in the UK and I’m just back from a run. Just a small one to keep the body ticking over. But this one was slightly different in one way, because before I went out I told myself that I’d go barefoot for the last two minutes.
Unfortunately, although much of where I’m running is on well trodden dirt paths and heath land, the last two minutes of my normal routes always lead back to my place. That means bumpy tarmac and what I previously considered relatively smooth surfaces.
So as I exited the heath, and turned the second to last corner I slowed down, slipped off my runners and my socks, and started (tentatively) padding along the last bit of road before having to throw a left to turn and drop down a hill.
I figured barefoot downhill would allow me to try out the bended-kneee, impact-reducing technique Ken Bob Saxton prefers but…well, I didn’t quite get that far. After about 12 steps my feet started sending signals to my brain of the “ouch!” and “err…what are you doing?” variety, and I realised that my feet are nowhere near ready for such a change just yet.
Yet that change won’t magically occur, and so I decided to stay barefoot and, with my runners in my hands, just walk down the hill quite slowly. At this point inquiring looks met me. Just a few: one from a couple with a pushchair, and another from a girl out cycling with her her family. Then when I got close to my place – a few drivers looked over as they waited for the lights to change. It’s an odd sight in a November SE London for sure, but I’m more interested in how it felt.
At the time the discomfort bordering on pain from running barefoot was obvious. Just a short while later now, my feet are sort of bristling a little, like a chick’s wings might long before flight is perfected. No doubt there are sensors way down there on my souls that have just been rudely woken from over two decades of slumber and aren’t sure what exactly’s going on. And yet it’s not exactly a bad feeling right now.
I’m not heading out again today, so I’ll be treating my feet to my usual barefoot on carpet antics in a warm house, but it’ll be interesting to see how my feet feel tomorrow. What’s encouraging though is that I didn’t feel as though my running style was that bad during the 12 steps I took; more that my feet just weren’t ready to be unshod.
Perhaps this is where minimalist runners come in – the training wheels of true barefooting. Hmm, you know I’ll think on that while I have a shower. And promise my feet that’s all the pounding they’ll get today.
Have a good one.