Run on Soft, Level Terrain
Running straight bare on concrete hammers your feet hard. If you start out this way, you’ll most likely suffer from top of foot pain, achilles aches, and plantar faccitis. Running barefoot on concrete is ADVANCED–but definitely something to strive for because you look so damn cool running barefoot on the black asphalt. It’s entertaining just to watch the puzzled expressions of onlookers. You also learn right way about the difference between children and adults. Usually children will ask you why you’re running barefoot. They want to understand you–to fit you into their world. Most other adults think they know where you belong in their tiny world. They say thing like, “Put on some shoes.” “You forgot your shoes.” or “You’ll ruin your feet.” There are a variety of comebacks for these remarks. I will cover them in my next podcast. But beginners should not have to worry too much about such comments because running barefoot on pavement is not for beginners.
A nice run around the soft grass of a local park or baseball diamond can instantly reveal joys of barefoot running without stressing your feet too much. When running on grass, AVOID the PERIMETER, WHERE the GRASS MEETS THE ROAD. These places are treacherous for bare-footers. They are minefields of shattered glass, rusty screws, and dirty condoms. Seriously, you don’t want step any of that with naked feet. USUALLY, the interior grass is safer, but you should always be diligent when running barefoot on any surface.
As the skin of sole thickens, you’ll be able to stomp over most road hazards with little risk. I’ve accidentally stepped on glass. To my surprise, my bare foot broke the glass and I was unharmed. I don’t recommend it, but the skin on the sole your foot is pretty damn tough.
Running barefoot on concrete in rain also increases the chances of cuts. The rain drains the super protection of your sole by turning the hard skin into mush. The one serious cut I got was from running barefoot was in the rain. I stepped on a shard of clear glass. It was impossible to spot in the fat Oregon rain, which pops the instant it hits the ground–quite lovely in its own way. I was able to dig the shard of glass from my foot on the curb, but it did draw blood.
Forefoot/MidFoot Strike, Soft Stride
I have a collection of videos about the every so mystical barefoot stride. Watch them. Here are two keys to a good barefoot stride: First Key: forefoot/midfoot strike: You should NOT lead with your heal when running barefoot. Instead your forefoot should land first, followed by a soft tap of the heel. The Second Key: Soft Stride. You are ACTIVELY TRYING to DECREASE THE FORCE WITH WHICH YOUR FOOT HITS THE GROUND. Wearing a necklace will help you track your stride. I have written that in many posts because it’s so damn important. Speed will come later–and it will come. When you’re starting out, it’s better to go slow and soft.
Use “Barefoot” Shoes
Although Barefoot shoes are for experienced barefoot runners, they can help you. Barefoot shoes are great for trail runs. They give the feel of bare-footing with some protection and since the trail is usually soft, you don’t have as many impact driven issue as you do on concrete. But you still have to seek a soft stride and refrain from the deadly heel strike.