Look Mom, No Shoes!

Cold, but very very light.

I took off my shoes today during my run and ran for five minutes. That’s all it takes to understand why people do it.

I have been reading Christopher McDougall’s book Born To Run over the past two days (and I’m almost done); that along with watching a few videos on YouTube convinced me to try it out.

One YouTube channel, HowToRunBarefoot, suggests starting with five minutes a day for the first week, then add five more the following week. Seems simple enough.

The first thing I noticed is how darn cold the street is (it was in the high 30s today), but once you get moving that’s quickly forgotten. It’s incredible how heavy shoes actually are, but you can’t tell until taking them off.

I ran about a mile to the park and found a pretty flat section in the back that didn’t seem to stressful and where no one would point and laugh at me. A few little rocks hurt, but they weren’t that painful and didn’t stick to my feet so I didn’t have to stop at all. Adjusting to not landing on my heels wasn’t too difficult, but will give my calves a workout. The shoes went back on and I ran back home—surprisingly with feet that didn’t hurt.

I’ve been running for a pretty long time, but as McDougall explains, is very common nowadays pain has held me back—I have luckily avoided any injuries, but the soreness in my calves and feet now pops up around a mile into my runs. Flat feet don’t help with the big arch support most shoes give.

I don’t run every day, but I’m pretty sure I’m not just being a wimp either. On days the pain doesn’t show up—for whatever unknown reason—I have gone up to thirteen miles.

There’s a lot behind this crazy idea of taking off your shoes, but the simplest is:

  1. Humans have been running for millions of years, but only started to get hurt regularly since the 1980s.
  2. Running shoe companies started adding thick support on the bottom of running shoes in the 1980s.

Studies show this isn’t a coincidence.

I haven’t tracked time or distance of my runs for years. I’ve got the running for enjoyment, not burning off cake aspect out of the way, hopefully less shoes will lead to less pain and longer runs.


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