Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"It's better to feel pain than nothing at all. The opposite of love's indifference." - The Lumineers

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Why run without shoes when one has perfectly good shoes?

This, to me, is the fundamental weird thing about barefoot running. Like are we all suddenly orphans in a 3rd world country? It is one of those things that deserves a place on the list of stuff white people like. And it makes me think of the schizophrenic woman I used to live next door to in Madison. She walked around barefoot on the ice in -24F, etc, and I had little desire to follow her example. But maybe there is something to running barefoot. Although, I have to admit, when people talk about the theory behind barefoot running, I tend to not pay attention. But that doesn't mean I'm not curious.

I have principally been introduced to barefoot running through BAB and "Tony". I gave it a try a couple of weeks ago. I was on a run with SR and it was raining and just above freezing and we were running on a gravel path and I thought, there could be no worse time to try out barefoot running, so I did, of course. And it royally sucked. The "you have got to be kidding me" kind of sucking. When I removed my shoes, what I did next could by no stretch of the imagination be called running. It was screaming and grimacing while tiptoeing. I was so happy to put my sore feet in the warm embrace of my Mizunos again.

But today something clicked in my narrowly-shaped head. It's a beautiful day and I have to run and pick up The Lorax on smooth bike paths and I FEEL like running barefoot.

Barefoot running has a slew of positives and negatives

The negatives

Glass shards
tacks
gravel
urine
dog "doodoo"
tetanus
exposes my ugly feet
fear makes speedwork difficult
(commenters feel free to fill in more)

The positives

can be written about on a blog
incredulous looks from passersby
feels cool on a warm day
more "natural" running style (debatable if you spend the entire time holding back in fear)
Something new to try
cuts down on sock laundry
feet become less sensitive?

Well, now I'm off on my experiment...

Hi. I'm back. I really did just leave and come back.

Pre-run feet (crossing my fingers nothing bad happens to these before the Copenhagen Marathon!)

Friendly surfaces:

I have to say, it felt AWESOME to run here barefoot.

All was going well. A couple little irritating stones that stuck to my feet, but nothing slowed me down too much. I quickly learned that all that glitters is not glass.

But then, ow!, wait that WAS glass. I looked up to see this sign.

"Glarmester" that means "glassmaster" actually glas means glass, but so does glar. But Glarmesters mostly make windows and other things out of glass. Anyway, they use glass in their planters in front of their building. Note to self to use the other side of the sidewalk next time. I just hope no glass/glar got stuck in my foot.

Then I ran into a woman from my track club who was really fascinated and said she had seen a barefoot marathoner at the Rome marathon.

Halfway point. God, this was fun!

Now barefoot with baby jogger. A little boy asks "hvad laver du?" (what are you doing?) "Jeg løber" (I am running). Then I had to buy some groceries. The outdoor market was closed. I am not sure if it is legal to buy groceries without shoes in Denmark. But there were no signs. Barefoot Angie Bee is thinking, okay, running barefoot is not the same as shopping barefoot. But I was so happy without shoes that I couldn't get myself to put my shoes on (I did have a pair along). Let's just say I got my groceries hurried out of Qvikly after 50 weird looks.

And the end! 3 miles without (apparent) injury and I was a happier girl. I am hooked. As long as one has fairly smooth surfaces and no need to do speed work, barefoot running is really fun. And what more reason does one need than that?

10 comments:

Ewa said...

First of all your feet are not ugly.

I don't have perfectly good shoes. :(

The first time I ran sans shoes I felt like a little kid.

This is so cool you tried and liked it. Here in the States some establishments do not like barefoot people but there don't seem to be actually any laws prohibiting 'barefooting'.
I haven't had a chance to run barefoot in Poland. I am sure there would be a lot of heads turning. I could just pretend I was a foreigner, American, for example :).

mmmonyka said...

I would be never able to do that.
Firstly because I would be too intimidated by people looking at me thinking "what a weirdo" (as if I have not got those looks even now...)
And then my feet are too sensitive. When playing beach volley I am always the one tiptoeing and ouching when I have to go get the ball outside a sand-filled field.
I used to do cool downs or light strides on football field or artificial-grass field, but never run on a road. I think that it would be way too much for my poor joins. I love my running shoes cushioning!

PiccolaPineCone said...

Aarrrrghhhhhhhhhhh! That was me venting. You did not just do that [pounds head against wall]. I have nothing against barefoot running (well, actually I do but it's too long to go into here) but I have major issues with trying something new 5 days before a marathon. Ok. I'm not your mom. I'm not your coach. But I am A mom and I am A coach and this post is bringing out the raging deamon in both. I suppose you are very often in the situation that you are less than a week away from a major event given your propensity for racing so if you waited until your next race was many weeks distant you'd probably never get to try anything new. Nonetheless the mommy/coach in me implores you not to try beer-miling or running backwards or joggling etc. etc. until after the marathon. Pretty please?

varunner said...

Well, always interesting to try something new. I haven't been brave enough to try it, but I ran a half marathon a few weeks ago and saw numerous runners going barefoot.
BTW, I listened to your music mix that you sent during a 10 mile trail race in April and found it fit my mood just perfectly. Thanks again :-)

Barefoot AngieB said...

Well you know I just love that you tried it and that you had fun but I must also agree that you should wait to try new things until after the big race!!
Still, its quite a delightful thing to do :)
Yeah my shoes were crap and I could not justify spending any more money on shoes.
I love the feeling of a grocery store floor on my feet and cobble stone roads as well as brick are wonderful!
I had to avoid some car glass today. Its not so bad since its rarely sharp but it shatters so gets everywhere. Everyday is different. Today every single little rock was annoyingly painful yet other times I barely notice.

I was stressed this morning though so I am sure I way hypersensitive and not relaxing enough.

Danni said...

I like runnning sometimes in Vibram 5-fingers, which isn't really barefoot. Also, totally barefoot strides in the grass in the middle of the track feels good.

amy said...

i haven't drunk the koolaid yet on the whole barefoot movement, although i think it can be used in moderation for benefit. i can't imagine ever making the switch entirely.

with regards to your trying out barefoot running right before a big event, i do the same thing. i lifted arm weights and did an ab workout 4 days before Miwok after not having done either in months. i call it self sabotage. :)

sea legs girl said...

Yes, exactly, Amy! Self-sabotage. When one is tapering and not training brutally, it is like there is this overwhelming desire to do something ELSE brutal. You know, not like harm small animals, but find different physical challenges. I also cycled last night 19 miles in 70 minutes, which is a big record for me.

So that is a good starting point to ask forgiveness from Piccola Pinecone... You know I thought of you the whole time getting angry. It's so nice to have a mom in the blog world. And a sort of running mom (my mom doesn't run, so she can only yell at me when I weigh too little). Well, I promise no more barefoot running until after the marathon. And I don't think there was any harm done (luckily!). Thanks for caring.

Diana said...

I don't know if I would try it on the streets here. The copious amounts of dog doo-dee on the sidewalks is a deterrent. Besides, concrete gives such a pounding to the joints anyway, so I think I'll stick with my nicely cushioned shoes for that.

However, I loooove running barefoot in the park (ah, Neil Simon, you were really onto something there) and on the beach. I worry less in those places about stepping on/in something dangerous, and it makes me feel so unfettered.

Glad to hear you will suspend the new activity until after the big race. Try to avoid any other experiments like running blindfolded or re-enacting Frogger in the street.

Swimmergirl7 said...

how did you get the glass and stones out of your foot and continue running wasent it tough i would of stoped but of course i dont run unless my teachers say it