Wednesday, August 05, 2009

These Feet Were Made For Walking

Ever since reading Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, I've been intrigued with the idea of barefoot running. I've even incorporated a few barefoot sprints into my regular shod runs. Never, though, have I left the house in nothing but my tender tootsies.

Until today.

It's a strange feeling to leave one's house without footwear of some sort. Even the flimsiest sandals are worlds away from stepping out with naked feet. And although I've never left the house without pants (or shorts or some such lower body covering), going shoeless felt like how I imagine it feels to be without pants - exposed.

Being barefoot seems to suggest poverty or the after-effects of an unfortunate incident.

Or weirdness.

So it was with some trepidation that I locked the door and started on my way. I didn't go far; merely around the little pond about 1/2 a block from my condo.

I didn't think that other people's opinions of me mattered quite as much as they do. But as I got further from home, I was quite conscious of my bare feet and how much I wanted to do my loop and then get back home.

Why? Why was I so worried about what people might think or say?

I'm good at flying below the radar and not making much of a scene, so doing something that might attract attention, particularly cause people to look askance and wonder what's wrong with me, that I don't have shoes on, is cause for a bit of nervousness.

Thankfully there were only a few people out, and the one lady that I passed on either side of the pond kept her eyes averted, possibly in the hopes that this crazy shoeless person would just leave her alone. (Not knowing that I was having similar thoughts about her.)

As for the actual barefoot experience, it was enjoyable and I can understand how it could become addicting.

I could fee the warmth of the pavement underneath my feet, and the grass still wet with dew. It hurt to walk on the gravel, but thankfully there wasn't much of that. I was aware of how springy and soft the grass is, how warm and smooth the pavement is, and the coolness of the dew was pleasant underfoot. I thought about how insulated we are from the surfaces we trod on daily, that we forget what it feels like to run across the street barefoot, like when we were children.

Having said all that, I'm not going to forgo shoes entirely, or even mostly, but I think I will continue with occasional barefoot walks, as long as I can get over the feeling that others must surely think I'm a bit of an oddball.


Russ said...

Hi there, I just found you through the comments at The Art of Nonconformity. I too have just finished Born to Run and it has also changed the way I view running. (There seems to be a lot of buzz about this book out there!) I keep spouting off all these things I've learned to my girlfriend and she's probably thinking I've lost my mind with all this barefoot nonsense. But anyway, this post summarized how I would feel if I were to go out barefoot. So far I've just taken my shoes off for the last block back to the house, and that's it. I also had read about the water socks you mentioned, but have yet to buy a pair. How did that work out for you? I'm trying to get over a pulled calf muscle so it's been hard getting out for more than a 2 mile run, but I'm really looking forward to trying some new techniques!

Clynton said...

I finished Born to Run and did a walk around the block barefoot as well. I had the exact same feelings and thoughts. Quite incredible to be barefoot - the world comes alive around you. I bought some Vibram Five Fingers last week and am enjoying those. Once I recover from a herniated disc, I plan to start running in them (slowly to start with, of course). Have you tried any of the so called barefoot shoes out there? I hear the Vivo Barefoot ones are very comfortable, and look fantastic. I have a list of barefoot/minimal shoes on my website if you want to check them out. Let me know if you try and and what you think of them. (runningquest dot net). Thanks for sharing in your post, and happy barefootin' to ya!

Clynton said...

PS. Love the photos of your daughters. I have two girls as well, now 7 and almost 4. They look quite similar, actually. What joy's they are, right?!

Carmen Klassen said...

Thanks for the comments! I haven't tried any of the "barefoot" shoes out there, but probably will at some point in the future.

And I should clarify that the pics in my flickr stream are actually my 2 nieces, not my daughters. But even as an auntie I'd agree that they are a joy.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read your blog in a long time so have lots to catch up on.
Haven't read the book... don't run barefoot... but love to go barefoot whenever I can so... walking the 1/4 block to the mailbox or in a friend's backyards while having a BBQ. Sometimes I go barefoot when I HAVE to, like the time I was on White Ave in Edmonton and was getting blisters b/w my toes from my flip flops... I cannot handle that so I went barefoot (making sure I didn't step on busted glass or other such hazards) I can't say that I cared what people thought... though I think my friend with me was a little uncomfortable with the idea but our friendship has survived :-)
I have recently found out that one of the florists in S'toon walks around barefoot all the time... and I'm slightly jealous...

Mishu said...

Very interesting article. I like your passion which drive you out their to go outside in barefoots. Keep the spirit.