If you read any kind of running magazines or blogs, you’ve, no doubt, heard that the hot new craze sweeping the sport is barefoot running.
All the hub-bub has come about mostly because of the new book, “Born to Run,” by Christopher McDougall in which he “explores the life and running habits of the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Copper Canyon, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world,” according to the description on Amazon.
If it sounds familiar, you may remember a recent Parade article by the author.
And, of course…if you’ve ever done an Erie race…you’ve no doubt noticed the barefoot guy running. He ran on New Year’s Day…barefoot…over that snow and ice! (If anyone knows him, give me a name, I’d love to interview him!).
So…with all this chitty chat about barefoot running and how those carefully-crafted cushy shoes may actually be doing us more damage than good, I had to give it a try.
I didn’t plan on it, but I was having some toe issues the other day (long story…too many days with feet sweating in hot boots, I guess) and 5 minutes into my treadmill run, I took off my shoe to access the problem.
I realized I wasn’t going to be able to finish the run…too much rubbing going on. But, well, you know me…I’ll try anything to avoid the guilt of a no-run day.
So, it occurred to me to try walking barefoot on the treadmill.
Hmmmm….feels strange…it’s kinda loud…the belt is warm under my feet….
Ultimately, though, it felt OK enough that I decided to start running…slowly at first. Then, I ratcheted it up to 7.0, then 7.2, then 7.5 where I held steady. (I typically run between 7.8 and 8.2, so..I was taking it a bit easy).
I ran 5 miles. Barefoot. And, it felt OK. Different, for sure, but not painful…not poundingly rough or unbearable.
Later that day and that evening, I felt uncomfortableness in the pads of my feet — like they were swelled or…maybe roughed up from the belt a bit — they felt like…well, like I’d run 5 miles barefoot.
The next day, though, that was gone and there were no ill effects.
I’m not sure it’s something I’d do regularly…and I don’t think I’d ever do it outside (rocks, glass, animal carcasses, pinecones, etc.), but I’d consider doing it again on the treadmill.
If you give it a try…let me know what you think.
P.S. I didn’t go into all the detail on why barefoot running is supposed to be beneficial, but you can read more about it here and here (pros & cons) and..there’s an interesting NY Times article about how it’s affecting the running shoe market here.