Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wow, are my legs and feet sore. But, y’know, it’s a good kind of sore. (Cue the Far Side cowboy punctured with about two dozen arrows who, in a daze, is saying to his partner, “Yeah, Clem, it hurts, but y’know, it’s a good kind of hurt.”)

Tuesday night, I decided to act on some information I’d read in Runner’s World about running barefoot. Apparently, a lot of current research suggests that the benefits of running with shoes aren’t significantly outweighed by the benefits of running barefoot. And the benefits of running barefoot? Our feet were designed to provide us with a lot of feedback, and shoes muffle that feedback. As a result, it’s much harder for our feet to tell us when we’re running in a way that’s damaging to our knees or legs.

And you know all those African Olympians who run barefoot? Apparently, they have don’t get knee problems or leg problems nearly as much as those who run with shoes.

So, I figured that running barefoot was at least worth a try. I stripped off my socks and shoes, changed into my running outfit, and hit the pavement for a two-mile jog.

The sidewalk was mostly clear of debris, so my sharp eye was enough to keep me away from twigs and fallen nuts. For the first few minutes, I put on quite a spectacle for anyone watching at such a late hour, as I was practically prancing from one foot to the next. I wasn’t used to it, so I placed each foot with the care of a wary deer.

But after a few minutes, I settled into a natural gait that was fairly similar to my regular running gait, and after about ten minutes I was really jogging. At that point, I began to appreciate the sensuous pleasure of every footfall, feeling the texture of the sidewalk. Some bits of concrete were slightly rougher than others. A few steps onto the cool wet grass was like a mouthful of whipped cream, delightfully smooth and refreshing.

By the time I returned to my apartment, my feet were complaining as though I’d been whipping them, and I headed straight for the shower. To my surprise, upon inspecting the bottom of my feet, I found that they were merely dusty. There were no blood-filled cuts or cratered gouges in my skin.

After a few hours of rest, my legs are still very sore, although that must be partially due to a general soreness in my legs over the past few days. My feet are a little sore, too, but considering the sensations I experienced tonight, it was well worth this.

I don’t know if I’ll run barefoot every time I run, but I certainly can’t wait to do it again.

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