I’m not a professional barefoot runner (simply because no one has offered to pay me. yet.) but I got to thinking that I am sort of experienced at this barefoot running business. I ran barefoot on the beach in Florida once for about a mile. And I regularly run the recycling out to the curb barefoot, even in the winter. I also find that I’m often running in my dreams (and it feels like I’m running through molasses I might add) … and of course given that I am barefoot when I sleep, that surely counts for something in the barefoot running department, right?
So with the exception of the beach run, any barefoot running up until now has been unintentional. Well friends, times they are a changing. I set out for a couple of quite intentional barefoot runs this week – not on the beach, with the recycling bin nor in a horizontal position, but still barefoot nonetheless.
The first was in the midst of a normal run on a sunny, breezy afternoon. Instead of sailing through the park on this particular day though, I stopped to take off my shoes and socks and give it a barefoot whirl. I tried to resist feeling paranoid about leaving my not-exactly-cheap sneaks alone in a semi-sketchy park, but I figured I’d just be running big laps around the picnic tables where I’d be leaving them and would be able to shoe away any homeless peeps or pesky squirrels looking to snatch up a pair of hot pink Puma sneakers and black Asisc socks as needed.
I ran a little over a mile, through the grassy fields, alternating grass and pavement, wood chips and stones, moving back into the grass every time I was positive the bottoms of my feet had been ripped open by the macadam and I was surely leaving a trail of blood and skin in my wake.
It was quite the experience, and after I felt satisfied that I had given my arches and calves a sufficient beating I went back to the pavilion where I’d left my sneakers to get ready to run the mile back home – only to discover that one of my socks was missing! I knew it! Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you! But who would steal ONE sock? And why? Seriously? They’re nice socks homeless man! You’ll run like the wind in them! And if it was you squirrel, think of all the nuts you could haul back to your hole with TWO socks! I mean if you’re gonna take them, at least take them both. They’re a set for crying out loud.
Convinced that no one would steal just one sock, I was now positive someone was just playing a trick or simply messing with me. When I looked around to find the sock stealing prankster surely snickering and pointing at me as they watched the scene unfold from the bushes, I found my sock in the shadows of the pavilion, just a couple yards away. I was now sure that as soon as I bent down to pick up my sock a gang of teenage squirrels in the bushes would reel in the fishing line my sock was attached to and laugh hysterically at me as I chased after my sock in the park – but alas, that didn’t happen either. No pre-pubescent rodent perpetrators in the bushes. No homeless men scouting the local parks for women’s socks. Just me and the sneaky wind that somehow scooped my sock out of my sneakers and blew it out of plain site.
The next barefoot run was a bit less about paranoid delusions and more about multitasking.
The same park, but this time with the kids. “I’m taking the kids to the playground” is now code for “I’m going for a barefoot run”.
Children piled into the car, sneakers on but left untied, off we went to the playground for some running – big and little people alike.
This time though it was barefoot from the very beginning through the very end. I kept waiting for the people I ran past to notice that I was running without shoes on, but no one did. Or if they did, they didn’t say anything. Well fine then. Next time I’ll be sure to bring along my “Notice me! I’m running without shoes on!” sign. Or then again, maybe it’s not my shoes I should be taking off if what I want is to get noticed on a run.
I spent 40 minutes alternating running with some walking, on grass and on pavement, checking in on the two excuses I brought with me to the playground every once in a while. When my arches felt fatigued and I was sufficiently sweaty, I called it a barefoot wrap after about 3 miles.
I did take advantage of the free foot strike evaluation sponsored by the local puddles before collecting my gang and packing it up though.
When I retrieved my children from the plastic structures they played on while I ran laps around them, they too were without shoes on, but in stocking feet instead of completely barefoot.
At least someone noticed my shoeless run! But what am I gonna say to them? Get your shoes on? Doesn’t your mother teach you anything?
(This one is for the people who find my blog when they google “Filthy Female Feet“. You’re welcome.)