Friday, September 16, 2011

Look, Ma: No Shoes!

There has been a lot of focus on barefoot running in the past few years. Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall popularized the technique. After hearing about the knee pain I had experienced while running, the physical therapist who did my bike fitting suggested that I look into barefooting. "I think there's really something to it," she said. Vibram 5-fingers and minimalist running shoes are showing up all over the place. And yesterday at work I attended a presentation by Barefoot Ted pitching the benefits of shoe-free running.

I'm usually not one for following fads, but this barefoot running thing seems to have gained a strong toe-hold in the athletic world's popular consciousness. I've definitely got a strong case of intrigue.

So this morning, after getting back to the house from my morning run in conventional shoes, I sat down on the porch, pulled the shoes off, and went around the block in my bare feet. I have to say, it felt pretty good. The feedback from my foot strike was so much more pronounced than when wearing shoes. On normal runs I've been trying to shorten my stride, increase my cadence, and strike with my toes. But it has been really hard to tell if I'm doing it right. Without shoes, there was no question.

The loop around the block is just under half a mile, and I think that's probably a pretty good distance for me to start with. The pads of my feet aren't used to concrete, so they're feeling a little raw now. But it's nothing I can't adapt to. Since winter is coming, I'll need to look into something that will keep the frost bite at bay while maintaining the natural sense of feeling that barefooting provides.

So I'm not sure if I'm going to commit 100% to this, but I'd like to give it a serious try. The thought of trotting around with no shoes kinda has my inner caveman doing a little dance around his fire.

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