Today (March, 31, 2011–No this isn’t and April Fool’s joke–I hate April Fools), a deadly, venomous cobra burst from of its cage at the Bronx Zoo. Concerned Zoo Officials immediately locked-down the reptile exhibit.
While lethal serpents aren’t a city dwellers main concern, bare-footers face an equally dangerous and deadly foe. These venomous snakes may neither slither nor shed, but their fangs do pack a deadly bite: the grass camouflaged shard of glass, the half-buried jagged blade, the infected-junky hypodermic needle. Each one a laying in wait for the day dreaming bare-footer.
Here are three easy way to escape their pernicious strike:
Avoid gutters and the sides of road.
Most deadly refuse and other hazards collect where the curb meets the road. It’s also a favorite target for drunk teenagers who want watch their empty beer bottles explode. It’s not unusual to see razor sharp glass glinting in the sun.
Running Sandals, Vibrams, and even Ballerina Flats will protect your feet from most puncture wounds. Since most rowdy kids party on Fridays and Saturdays, there’s a good chance that their sharp and cruel waste will find its way onto your running route on the weekends.
Wear Non Polarized Sunglasses in the Summer
Polarized sunglasses are great for water, but they hide many of the roads dangers.
To everything thing there is time and a purpose under heaven. A time play, a time to work, a time to wear shoes, a time to go bare. A time to run, a time to walk.
(The image above should show lower leg impact zones for the unshod runner.)
The biggest mistake of barefoot runners make is going too far too fast–completely unshod or with minimalist shoes. The transition to barefoot running must be made gradually. The body temple needs time to adjust to the new running technique, especially the lower leg. The arches of your foot and your calf muscles need time to grow stronger. Most barefoot runners tend to feel as if they are trading injuries, with shoes, your knees and lower back hurt, unshod, your calves, ankles, and soles get the brunt.
Even Crazy Barefoot Runner, Valen Longfeather, is not immune. Lately, I have been suffering from heel and calf injuries from too much barefoot running, especially adding hills and rougher paved terrain. Running completely barefoot on the craggy Oregon roads hammers your feet. The pain strikes below the knee, which makes sense; these are the parts of the leg that shoes baby with their soft cushioning. Running unshod forces muscles to swing into action; it also puts pressure on the lower joints and ligaments. The result is chronic foot and calf pain for runners who go too far unshod. I was cutting down on my distance and just running a few times a day to get in my mileage. But even that was a bad idea. Even though I even been walking around town without shoes for about three months and have been running barefoot, my feet and lower legs are still too weak for longer runs.
Yesterday, I decided to wear shoes for a run because my calf and achilles were aching too much and I need to train for a private 30 mile Trail to the Sea Run. To my surprise, the shoes alleviated the calf and heel pain. My foot did feel off balance–forcing into an unnatural position, but I was able to run without too much pain. While the shoes did aid my lower legs, they shifted the aches to my knees and back and completely robbed me of the thrill of running. It was like running over a rubber barrier between me and the world.
I immediately followed my shoe footed run with a short barefoot run. OMG, what a different experience. Though some of lower leg aches returned so too did the exhilarating feel of the wet pavement beneath my feet. Running barefoot puts the joy in running. Shoes may take away some injuries, but they cannot replace the real experience of running. So, I think that shoes are not 100% evil. They are a means to end, the end is barefoot running long distances. Shoes can aid in that noble goal.
This video shows the best way to start barefoot running:
One of the many joys of life is splashing barefoot through puddles. Running in the fat Oregon rain excites me. But apparently it’s not for everyone. Last week I was walking with barefeet through a local park which features a human-made stream. I immdeiately headed for the stream. After all, isn’t that why the fake water way is there? Of course, just as I got in the stream, a mother and her son walked by, “You’re NOT supposed to do that in public,” she said loudly to her son. I couldn’t help but laugh and wave at them. Her son waved back; she turned her head. I knew deep inside she wanted to join me.
When running in the rain, I like to wait till mid day; otherwise the pavement is icy cold. The unexpected warmth of the road astonishes me. More often than not, the road is a lot warmer than you expect. Even so, the water does deliver the chill on really cold windy days. If it’s too chilly, I usually just hit the treadmill.
It’s important not to run too far in the rain because the wetness softens your skin. I learned my lesson about going too far a few weeks ago. When I got home and checked my feet only to discover what looked like a shoddy jewelry shop on my soles. Tiny bits of glass glistened next to opaque pain-pyramid stones. I had to bust out the tweezers to clear the shop. Luckily, the tiny shards weren’t too deep, but that’s what happens when you go too far or too long. The skin marshmallows, your feet go numb and the road’s evil minions try to embed their sharp wares in your skin. I throw on huaraches or other barefoot shoes for longer runs in wet weather.
Hello, I’m updating barefoot runners life to be mobile friendly. After all, most runners are on the go! I’ve updated the minimalist shoe links, chia seeds links, and even added links to Barefoot Runner’s Life Mobile Video Channel on Youtube’s New Mobile ‘Site. If you have any trouble or question about the site, post a comment. I’ll do what I can to fix it.
BTW, they’re a mobile switcher link at the bottom of the page. You can use it to toggle between mobile and regular old desktop.
Do you want to find a running routes in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, or some other location? What about a 5,6, or 7 mile route in Portland, Seattle, or even in your own neighborhood? This video will show you how. (It doesn’t show you how to create barefoot running routes with Walk Jog Run, it shows you how to how to search and filter existing routes.)