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SHODLESS! full run report

So early this morning or possibly last night I decided that my neighborhood 5k had already gotten stale and boring. Time to switch it up. The plan: Conquer the hill that conquered my hip.  (oh, I’m officially blaming the hill for the stress fracture that started the whole mess now, by the way. The hill and a bad running form coming down the hill).

Wait. There is a precursor to this story. On Monday or Tuesday, I got barefoot-curious, and in 40* weather, I ventured outside barefoot. I had my keys in my hand, to go get……something…..out of my truck. (I may still be in the barefoot closet at this point). Just wanted to see what it felt like to walk around out there barefoot. I decided that it was too d**n cold for me, and promptly came back in, wondering how Barefoot Josh does it. Didn’t think much more of it at the time.

I knew today was going to be good weather to run; and today seemed as good of a day as any to go take down the hill.   I get down there, no intention of running barefoot today. I did however plan on pushing my luck with a tad longer run than the doctor ordered (closer to 4 or maybe 4.5 miles had I done the actual half marathon route). While I’m stretching, I realize no one is around.  Hmmm….it’s warmer today….let me just slip my shoes and socks off and see how cold the ground is today.

“Not bad, really” So there I stand. Barefoot. In the middle of a parking lot. Alone. I tuck my shoes behind the tire of my truck (not like anyone wants to steal some grubby old running shoes anyway). I walk calmly over to the walking path (completely away from the hill I came to conquer). I get that far and wonder, hmm…maybe I can run just a few steps to see what it’s like.   So i hit start on the garmin, and off  I go.

Remembering what I have leeched off of barefootrunning.com and advice from Barefoot Josh, I remember to bend my knees, to the point of feeling silly, run lightly and ninja-like (maybe I made the last part up, but you get the idea…quiet), stay off the heels, don’t let my feet twist coming up off the ground. Stand upright, high knees, keep feet in short, quick steps…. “I got this” is running thru my mind.

I finally look up and see a guy ahead of me, walking, clearly a public works employee. Crap. This guy’s gonna think I’m a nut, not only running barefoot, but doing it in January. I made the turn at the back of the trail, and there off the trailhead pops another runner, one whom I know and go to church with.  He’s a good ways in front of me, and looking at my time, apparently I tried to catch him for a few seconds. That’s when he turns around and starts headed back toward me. Busted. Barefoot. Hoping he won’t notice, I wave and say “hi” and keep trucking. First words: “you lost your shoes, didn’t you?” I reply ” nah. trying to slow myself down. I’ve been running too fast”

It was the best excuse I could come up with. Looking back, it was lame. Whatever. I had to say something, because I’m sure it’s going to come up again Sunday morning. In front of my wife. Whom I have not yet told that I am bare-curious.  I’ll come back to that though.
So just past him I hit roughly the .5 mile marker, and my feet are starting to get hot. Like sandpaper going across the bottom kinda hot. So I pause the garmin timer, and stand around for a minute, feeling kind of lost stuck. I know the truck is a good ways away (.1-.2 tenths of a mile is a “good ways away” while barefoot). I decide it’s best to suck it up and run on back to the truck. I figure if I can run 8.5 miles on a broken hip, .2 tenths of a mile barefoot should be nothing.  I get back to the truck feeling liberated. “Man. That was awesome”

Then I wonder if I can go farther. Can I conquer the hill barefoot? Am I willing to try it ?  I decide after my recent feeling of hopelessness that it’s best to take the shoes, just in case. I’d hate to be barefoot and a mile or a mile and a half away. Been there, done that before (stupid hip…).

I opted for socks this time, thinking this will somehow “protect” my feet a little, while still allowing me to continue my barefoot quest up the hill.    Let me say, socks don’t do much. But in my mind, at the time, they were great. Once again, it was like I had just started all over again. I trot on up the hill, until I get that burning sensation again. I stopped again and inspected my feet. Everything looked ok, but I have had enough for today. 1.5 Miles. 17 Minutes, 29 seconds. Actual time on feet barefoot: 19 minutes, 32 seconds.

I slipped my shoes on, and finished the run. I noticed immediately  how much different my stride was barefoot vs. wearing shoes. I also noticed what I haven’t even thought about until this point: my hip, which hasn’t hurt at all, now is sore.  Is it the shoes, the running form, or the fact that my feet demanded way more attention than my hip did? I may never know the answer to that question.   Last half of the run was  about 2.1 miles, did it in 22:49. It was slow, because

1. I was on a hill.
2. My feet really were starting to hurt, and I was running slightly funny to compensate
3. I had already run 1.5 miles.
4. I was lost in thought about this whole barefoot thing

I finally get finished up, and down to the truck. I pack up and head home. My feet are tender, and I’m curious to inspect them, so as soon as I hit the front door I ditched the shoes and flip ’em over. Right foot: some redness, a whole lot of dirt, but in good shape. Left foot: uh-oh. that’s gonna hurt, isn’t it. Blister. On the big toe, maybe a quarter inch by one inch in size.  Crap. I have to work on this all night.

I do a little googling about blisters and treatment, and actually wind up on barefootrunning.com again. The post I pulled up was someone who had 2 come up at the same time, one he drained, the other he let heal naturally. He said the one he drained hurt like the devil while the one he left alone was sore, but not really painful. He said in the end they both were back at 100% on the same day.

With that advice, I decide it’s best to leave mine alone.

So that’s that. 1.5 barefoot miles, 1 new blister, and a whole lot more curiosity.

For documents sake, and ’cause all barefoot kids seem to like grody feet pics, attached is exhibit a– my left foot.

Also, here’s the garmin data from the first half of the run– exhibit B

so…any speculation as to what I did wrong? the socks? the extra 3/4th of a mile? the extra 2.1 miles after barefooting-it? bad form? some odd combination of all of it?



5 thoughts on “SHODLESS! full run report

  1. You didn’t do anything wrong. You’re learning. To answer why you got a blister: friction. You were pushing off a bit on your toe. Focus more on lifting the feet.

    Also, go ahead and let your heel touch the ground. Keep your ankles relaxed.

    Congrats – you’ve run barefoot. You are now officially a barefoot runner.

    Posted by Barefoot Josh | February 3, 2011, 7:16 pm
    • So, how long does said “lesson” last? Obviously I can’t run with it…. ‘least not barefoot I can’t. And what about this cold? 14pr of socks?

      Way off, but what about hot? Doesnt 100* weather mean 120* pavement? That just sounds like it’s gonna melt the skin off my foot…

      Posted by pthrift | February 3, 2011, 8:17 pm
  2. I also forgot: on the way home, while telling my dear wife about my barefooted adventure, I was way shot down. That’s a stupid idea, she says. Why I ask, “just is” is the response I get….
    She then threatens to tell me doctor on me. I couldn’t help but to lol.
    I explain how it’s less painful, she said barefoot running is where she draws the line of understanding (post surgery…. The pre-surgery line was drawn at marathon distance. No ultra’s, she said).

    I may listen to her. Then again, maybe not. Do I still count as a barefoot runner if I only do it sometimes? Like a couple times a week training? 🙂

    Posted by pthrift | February 3, 2011, 8:26 pm
  3. Re blister: healing time varies, usually lasting no longer than a few days. I’ve drained blisters and left them alone and haven’t noticed much of a difference in healing time, but found that I could run on them without further damage. That was good practice, but risky. Since your mileage is going to be very low, you could even put a band-aid on it and should be fine.

    Re cold: 40 degrees and up, I’ll go barefoot. 25 to 39, one pair of cotton socks will do. They’ll get hole-y like you saw in the Charleston video, but they’re surprisingly warm. Colder than that, as many socks as needed in an aqua sock. If it’s wet, I’ll wear a pair of gortex socks.

    Re hot: I don’t like running in really hot weather regardless of footwear, so it’s early morning runs for me in the summer. The pavement also cools off a lot in the early evening. If midday running is unavoidable, I’ll wear aqua socks.

    Re wife: That was Iris’ reaction as well. I hid it from her for a few weeks. When she finally busted me, she couldn’t get mad because my feet looked good. So that’s your objective: run so gently that the soles of your feet look great.

    I did a workshop with Ken Bob ( the guy with the beard of therunningbarefoot.com) last summer. We all went for a little barefoot jaunt, at the end of which he said “congratulations. You are now all barefoot runners.”

    Posted by Barefoot Josh | February 4, 2011, 6:01 am
  4. If you haven’t yet, check out these videos:

    Posted by Barefoot Josh | February 4, 2011, 9:21 am

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