Archive for June, 2012

motivational mondays – running barefoot

06/25/2012

When was the last time you felt free? I mean really free. Also known as:

  • Unshackled
  • Careless
  • Unlimited
  • Unrestrained
  • Full of love
  • Happy
  • Ain’t nobody gonna get you down

The more people I meet, I discover that most have a difficult time truly feeling freedom. Whether it’s financial, mental, spiritual or geographical. We struggle with this concept because it feels like there is always something to attend to. Always something that needs our eyes, our words or our hands.

So how can we feel free when our realistic mind tells us we are anything but?

While I could quote The Eagles and their wonderful analogy of chains and keys, I prefer to give a more actionable agenda for starters. So if it’s been a while since you felt that invigorating pseudo-emotion I’ve dubbed freedom, try my Miracle Formula: Run Barefoot.

run barefootrunning barefoot, forefoot strike, running technique, barefoot

Yes, I said it: Run. Barefoot.

Not sure how? Fear not!

Here’s my patented Step-by-Step Guide to Awesomeness™ to walk you through it:

Step 1: Find the nearest open field, free of prickers, devoid of goose poop and chock-full of judgment.*

Step 2: Kick off those Nike Frees, those Saucony Kinvaras or those Converse (for you garage band heroes and hipsters).

Step 3:  Run as fast as you fucking can!

*Step 4 (recommended): Ignore judgment.

Sound crazy? It’s not. I promise you, you’ll feel like a kid again, wild and free.

That feeling may last only a while, but that’s OK. It’s not a form of escapism, as its effects are prolonged in ways you may  not even realize. I guarantee that so long as you don’t step on any fecal matter or prickly weeds, you will feel more free. And if you do step on either of those things, or something else even more ghastly, I think you’ll find a way to laugh it off (but bring a towel, cell phone and first aid kit just in case).

top 10 benefits of running barefoot

Here’s a list for you lazy headline scanners.

The Top 10 Benefits of Running Barefoot:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Improved happiness
  • Better proprioception
  • Increased kinesthetic intellegence
  • Tougher feet
  • A well-turned calf, as they say
  • Decreased asshole-ness
  • Increased open-mindedness
  • Clearer thinking via that translucent cloud of endorphins
  • Less care about judgment, for you’ve just done something totally ridiculous and awesome

But lo, beware! Those nearest to you may be in danger! For when you finish your barefoot run, you may feel an unrestrainable urge to do any one of the following:

  • Pat the nearest dog on the head
  • Bear-hug the nearest stranger
  • Give a cash amount to the nearest homeless person
  • Punch the nearest KKK member in the face
  • Start doing work you love, for you will now realize you can

I’ve now been actively running barefoot for the past two years. Thus, I understand that eventually you’ll find that that open field just isn’t enough. You’ll want a larger challenge, a wider landscape. You’ll start hitting the pavement barefoot, you’ll realize what it is to fly, and then you’ll want more. I remember one of the first times I went on a barefoot run – about a half-mile in I just started laughing, so full of joy was I.

warnings for new barefoot runners

If you do decide to initiate yourself into the world of barefoot running, especially on pavement, I highly recommend not heel-striking. Information is abound on the interwebz on how to properly run barefoot, but here are a few key pointers for those too lazy or too time-constrained to look it up:

  • Land with your midfoot or forefoot, NOT your heel!
  • Shorten your stride – do not overextend (this is good advice to the shod runner as well – your knees will thank me when you’re 70)
  • Keep your arms at 90° angles, pumping forward and back, not twisting around your torso
  • Relax and enjoy the ride

I don’t want to discuss the mechanics of “minimalist” running too much. That will be saved for another blog post.

Do you have any experience running barefoot? Please share in the comments section!