I’ve been following the barefoot running trend for a while, and I’m intrigued. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a shoes-off kind of girl to begin with, and because my toes can function like most people’s fingers. I’ve always taken pleasure in tugging at the grass with them while sitting outside, or in raking the dirt with them, trying to decide if I think the granules feel rough or smooth. My bare feet have aided in my laziness, too. Dropped a pair of underwear while carrying an armload of clean laundry from the dryer to the bedroom? No problem, that’s what toes are for.
But running — I’m not so sure. I’ve technically run barefoot before, by default because I needed to run and happen to not have shoes on at the moment. I admit, it feels pretty fantastic. A completely different sensation than never realizing there’s this stuff called “ground” beneath the sole of those perfectly-engineered running shoes. My feet sort of register it like that delicious excitement a kid gets when she’s left alone with a box of donuts, television or the cute next-door neighbor boy after being over-protected all the time. Freedom.
So I saw this Active.com story on Twitter today about running barefoot and became re-intrigued. My whole life, running shoes have been the norm if you want to, well, run. Which is why it’s never dawned on me that running-shoes-for-running is a pretty recent phenomenon. I’d also never thought about the fact that the human foot has quite a few more years of structural engineering to help its owners run than do Nike or even (blasphemy!) Asics. Thing is, I’m not so sure that just because the human foot has been around a while, that means it’s made for the kind of running we do today, which is pretty recent, too.
Like the kind where you run nonstop for no good reason. Enter Barefoot Ted, who does just what his name implies. Not just 5Ks, either — try marathons and ultras, be-footed in nothing but his bare tootsies and sometimes in the bizarro-looking Vibram FiveFinger footware for a bit of protection (which I see on the Katy Trail from time to time). Ted had major back pain until he switched to running barefoot, and now he’s an evangelist about it.
Besides running nude-footed or with fancy FiveFingers, apparently you can also wear minimalist hurache sandals if you’re worried about glass or hot pavement (shown in the vid above — what’s up with the rooster and the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the background?). Which, I have to say, I would totally wear whenever.
Will I give barefoot-running a try? Hmmm. I’m doing good to train the “regular” way for the Rockledge Rumble. But who knows? I might just get a wild hair soon and accidentally-on-purpose forget my over-protecting shoes.