Yesterday I learned the hard, shameful way that I really don’t spend enough time running barefoot.
After walking around the Boston Marathon Expo like an addict in a crack store and talking to some awesome folks at all the minimalist shoe companies, my local barefoot buddy Brad and I participated in the first annual Boston Barefoot 5K. It was a gorgeous day and everyone was walking around barefoot like a bunch of filthy heathens. It was awesome. I got to see KenBob, Pat Sweeney, and also meet his friend Bookis (CEO of Luna Sandals) and the rest of his super-cool, barefoot, date-seed-spitting crew, sitting on the grass at Artesani Park in Boston.
I had spent the entire morning in my Invisible Shoes with no problems (save for the brand new INKnBURN skirt I apparently ordered at least one size too large – and quite nearly gave a free show to half of Boston at least once before making use of a couple safety pins). So for some reason that made me believe I would be able to run the entire 5K barefoot.
I am, regrettably, much more of a minimalist runner than a barefoot one. Part of it is laziness, part wussiness, and part because I have over a dozen pairs of minimalist running shoes to choose from, perfect for just about any terrain and temperature. It’s just too tempting to put off training my soles. When I do go barefoot, it’s usually on the silky-smooth, well-kept concrete and pavement surfaces around the pond near my office. Or here:
As you can see, it’s really not much of a barefoot challenge. Not that I’m trying to challenge myself, either. My longest barefoot run ever has been maybe close to two miles. So it probably isn’t much of a surprise that when I started out running this 5K totally barefoot, on the grittiest kind of asphalt, way too fast (big surprise), it wasn’t going to be long before I regretted my decision. It was less than a mile, in fact. When I looked down at my left foot and found an angry, tennis-ball-sized blister going, I put my huaraches back on. But it was already too late. I spent the rest of the race owwing and belly-aching instead of enjoying the sunshine and the pretty views. Poor saintly Brad stuck back with me, keeping me motivated with phrases like “Don’t feel bad, this race is tough terrain for bare feet” and “It’s all about conditioning – you’ll get there over time.” It took me almost 35 minutes to finish – my worst 5K finish time ever.
But hey, I still beat KenBob (for some reason). :p
So yesterday I learned that even though minimalist shoes are great, I really do need to spend a LOT more time running and walking barefoot, and not just on easy, smooth surfaces. It’s time to put more of my money where my mouth is. If I’m going to talk about minimalist shoes, I’ve got to be more accustomed to running totally barefoot. It was a bit of a hard lesson for me. And it’s a lasting one, too – I expect to be limping around for the next two or three days.
Some other things I learned yesterday:
- Pistachios are called “the death nut” by most allergists.
- NewBalance offers wide-width versions of their minimalist shoes. Cue the choir of angels.
- I should have spent more time networking and less time consuming copious amounts of beer at last year’s NYC Barefoot Run.
- Peeing in a porta-potty barefoot does not cause instant death, although I’ll have to get back to you on possible delayed death.
- nuun tastes better cold.
- You simply cannot have a conversation with KenBob Saxton without him politely pointing out that you’re wearing shoes and that they are the devil.
- If you’ve been running in <45 degrees for the last 6 months, sweating on a run is always new and strange on the first 75 degree day.
- It only takes about half an hour for a pasty New Englander to get a sunburn.
- What Pattie MacIver looks like.