Let’s be honest, barefoot running hurts like hell for the first few months. It’s not easy. You can’t just barge out the door and stampede down the streets like a wild rhino. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes a strong mind and a strong heart.
Not everyone can run barefoot because not everyone has thick skin. And that’s what you need when you run unshod. You need thick skin, tough skin. Does Donald Trump have thick skin? No! No! No! Read his tweets about being parodied on SNL:
Trump’s skin has been sculpted by a surgeon’s blade, powdered and colored for camera, crowd and stage. It’s frail skin, flimsy as toilet tissue.
The Donald couldn’t run barefoot, not even for a block, not even a few paces, not even one big toe dipped gingerly on the plush white house lawn. He doesn’t have the spirit for it.
But what would happen if he did decide to chuck his loafers and socks for a day hike in the forest. Without the fabricated barrier between his body and the ground, he might feel the pulsing energy of the earth rising up through the dirt, he might experience the enchanting dribble of soothing raindrops flowing down his instep, he might even succumb to the primal urge of dance. And then, swinging and swaying to an invisible rhythm, barefoot between the wet cedars and pines, he might reconsider strip mining for Coal, ransacking planned parenthood, and banning Muslims from our borders. It certainly wouldn’t be enough to make him a great president, but it would be a start.
If Trump did start running, or even just walking barefoot, America might not be lost in its teenage self indulgence. And I along with all of the other barefoot runners from around the world would rejoice, knowing that Trump’s bare feet would be hitting the cold, hard streets of DC and hurting like hell for the first few months.
A few days ago, bizarre ads filled my screen. Many of them aimed at women: Maxipads for instance. They appeared on Youtube & in MY private google account. Even on Spotify I received ads for Christian books and mascara. At first, I was amused. But the offbeat ads have become downright annoying. So, I delved into my Google Ad settings.
I was shocked to discover that Google pegged me as a 17 year old girl!
And it’s not just Google. I’ve had issues with Amazon as well. For instance when my WIFE was logged into Amazon. MY wishlist appeared on her suggested buys–when she clicked on the “Your Wishlist” link, MY wishlist appeared. What’s even worse was Amazon’s sending HER purchase suggestions to MY google e-mail. I received direct e-mails from Amazon suggesting that I buy things from HER private wishlist for myself. Somehow Amazon’s cookies crossed our wish lists. Our names are different. Amazon has no way of knowing that we’re married. It’s disturbing because her personal preferences were sent to me without her consent. And mine were sent to her without my consent. The privacy hole is huge and frightening. We contacted Amazon and they have fixed the issue.
I’m sure that I am not alone. Anyone who shares a computer with someone else has probably endured similar glitches. Here’s how I was able to “Opt Out” of Google advertising.
Log in to your account. Just below the gear/configure icon, click the link that says, “Why this Ad?“
A balloon will appear it will say:
This ad was based on the email you were viewing. Ads Settings puts you in control of the ads you see.
Amid the sultry sticky gloom, I stroll through derelict East Village of Vancouver, British Columbia. (Forgive the florid prose, it won’t last.) Soon, I stumble across a bronze statue of two barefoot runners. Oh, wait! They aren’t barefoot. They have cleats attached to the thin fabric encasing their feet.
What on earth are these lanky runners doing on this side of town? Turquoise blotches surround the graceful serif lettering on the plaque. As I read the inscription, the mysterious pieces neatly snap into place. I am standing on hallowed ground; this is where thousands of fans cheered as they witnessed an epic race between two of the fastest men on the planet. It is one of the “Six Most Dramatic Events in Sports History“.
Who are these runners? Roger Bannister & John Landy.
Anyone who listens to Anthony Robbins, Marshall Sylver, or any other motivational speaker is familiar with Roger Bannister. At age 25, Bannister accomplished an impossible athletic feat. On May 6th, 1954, he became the first human being to run a mile in less than four minutes. He achieved his record breaking time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds at the Iffley Road track in Oxford. Sports enthusiasts refer to his remarkable accomplishment as the “miracle mile“.
Anyone who listens to Anthony Robbins, Marshall Sylver, or any other motivational speaker will be entirely ignorant of John Landy. Probably because Landy fell between the cracks of history. A few weeks after Bannister set the record for the fastest human mile, John Landy, smashed it with a time of 3 minutes 57.9 seconds in Turku, Finland.
This set the stage for the ‘mile of the century‘ at the Empire Games in Vancouver.
Both men had conflicting running styles and training philosophies. Roger Bannister was known for his phenomenal ability as a “kicker”. His talent for hotfooting on the last lap was legendary. His final lap was always faster than the previous three, it was this strategy that allowed him to zoom past the four minute barrier. Bannister’s training system was to workout lightly and stay fresh. In fact, his breakthrough for the sub-four-minute-mile was discovering that rest periods were the key to faster times. His rest days gave him time to reflect on meaning of running: “[Running] gives a man or woman the chance to bring out power that might otherwise remain locked away inside. …The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom.”
Landy’s approach to running was poles apart, he was a front runner and he trained hard, never letting up. His tactics for racing were also different. Landy liked to build unbeatable leads by smoking the competition from the beginning of the race. He said, “The mile has a classic symmetry. It’s a play in four acts.” It was a boring play because Landy’s acts were all the same. Being a front runner made sense to Landy, “I just like to run fast.” He also wrote, “We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. It also does us good because it helps us to do other things better. It gives a man or woman the chance to bring out power that might otherwise remain locked away inside. The urge to struggle lies latent in everyone.”
Which mortal would achieve glory and victory at the Empire Games, Landy or Bannister?
In the early part of the race, Landy took the lead. Bannister hung way back in third place. He planned to run easily through the third lap, but became nervous when Landy shot so far ahead. Bannister stepped up his pace after the second lap. This was not his typical style, he preferred to run hard on the last lap, not the last two laps. “With great poise, he spread his effort evenly over the entire third lap. In the middle of the backstretch he had cut Landy’s frightening lead in half.” When the bell rang to mark the last lap, Landy was clearly head of the pack, with Bannister chasing close. In front and on his way to proving that he was faster than Bannister, Landy made a colossal mistake. He turned his head to check on Bannister. That fraction of second was enough for Bannister to use his powerful “kick.” He beat Landy by a shoulder and won the race in 3:58.8, against Landy’s 3:59.6.
I look again at the statue on the delinquent side of town. It commemorates the moment Bannister passed Landy. I stare at John Landy. He is forever looking over the wrong shoulder as Bannister rushes past him. He’s frozen in bronze in second place forever. The statue irks me. The Vancouver Games were Landy’s to lose. And that’s exactly what he did. Landy lost because he was running against Bannister instead of running against himself.
Let’s face it, John Landy ran the mile faster than Bannister ever could. Bannister’s best mile, the one he ran against Landy at the Empire Games, was 3 minutes 58.8 seconds. Landy’s best mile was 3 minutes 57.9 seconds. So even though, Landy wasn’t the first human to run a sub-four-minute-mile and even though he lost the mile of the century, he was still faster than Bannister.
It’s tragic, Bannister retired after his victory ending his running career on the highest of notes, while Landy raced on and continued to lose race after race. Eventually, Landy burnt out and injured his Achilles tendon. His running career fizzled out.
After gazing at the statue, I search for the track. As I step toward the field, I see weeds jumping up around the cyclone fences, I wretch from the stink of rotting fish guts. The busy street buzzes with traffic. I wince when I hear the loud shout of a semi-truck’s air-horn blaring at a rusty Toyota. The once glorious track is dilapidated and barely recognizable. It’s fenced off in chain links. It reminds me of a prison yard. Like the rest of city, it decays. The track markers and rings are wiped out. The event center is filled with carnival rides. It is a forlorn amusement park. Looking at the place now, it’s hard to believe that it was here that two of the world’s fastest men ran the “Mile of the Century.”
The current fastest mile record is held by Moroccan Hicham El Guerrouj, who ran a time of 3 minutes 43.13 seconds in Rome, Italy, on 7 July 1999.
I was baptized as a Catholic, I was partially raised Catholic, I was a partaker of First Catholic Communion, but I am NOT Catholic. Why then, am I tempted to pray to Saint Sebastian?
It all started a few weeks ago. It was a frigid, rainy day in Sandy Oregon. I didn’t at all feel like running 8 long miles barefoot on the rough and icy streets, not only because of cold, but also because the city was doing roadwork, filling the streets with the infamous tiny pebbles I have deemed “pain pyramids”. The stone triangular spikes must have been formed in the very bowels of barefoot-runner hell itself.
After watching some Youtube videos, sitting in front of the heater, and pretending to myself that I was not procrastinating, I finally convinced myself to put on my running clothes and hit the streets. As soon as I shut the door, the skies did not open and the sun did not peak through revealing a lovely rainbow, instead fierce black clouds swarmed above, an arctic blast surged over me, and the first biting darts of sleet struck my tender feet.
For the first few miles, my hands trembled and I wondered what the hell I was doing outside, then I noticed that according to RunKeepr, my last mile was a two seconds faster than the previous mile. Even though I was miserable, the encouragement from runkeepr boosted my pace–at the very least running faster would get me out from cold dark clouds faster. Around mile 6, the nerves on my feet were telling me they needed more skin. I ignored the pain. At mile 7.5 I stepped on a slice of glass or a metal scrap or a rusty nail. But I didn’t stop because I had only half of a mile left! I would treat the cut later.
When I finished my run, I wasn’t all that shocked to see blood prints behind me. I could see my ife juices swishing with the rain and swirling peacefully into the gutter. When I examined my foot, I didn’t discover a shard of glass or even a gash on my foot. Instead I gazed into the tiny hole I had run into it.
Luckily, I was able to bandage the wound and run comfortably with sandals. I even comfortably ran 10 miles three days after the injury. Unfortunately, the bandage must have altered my gait because I developed a pain deep in my ankle. It felt like a sprain, but worse. My foot swelled so I decided to take it easy until it healed.
As soon as I got back up to 11 miles for my long run, I caught a wicked chest cold. Cough cough cough, no phlegm just a hacking dry cough and not even dreams of sleep for about three days. I rarely get ill, but this virus sneaked past my defenses. Maybe that’s because I weakened them by running barefoot through a storm.
I am well again. I am once again on my feet. If I were to pray to Saint Sebastian for anything, I think I would ask him to protect me FROM MYSELF.
May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.
When I was a wee lad, my parents refused to buy me hostess cupcakes, twinkies, and other delicious junk food products. “They turn you into a hyperactive- punch Scotty in the gut monster!” my mother said. My principal agreed. The magical white swirly tops of the chocolate cakes and any other mystical incarnation of sugar did not mix well with me.
But I was determined to fill my innards with spooky preservatives, my tongue with tasty candy, and my fists with superpowers; so, I got a paper route, which meant early mornings of throwing heavy stuff at strangers’ homes. It wasn’t a bad gig at all.
The very first payday, I strode past the winos into the Quick Mart armed with a massive amount of cash for a kid of the verge of teenager-dom, $10. I bought exactly two wine bottle sized brown paper bags of my own private Halloween. My sack brimmed with Twinkies, Chocodiles, Now & Laters, Hostess Cupcakes, and one chilly Chocotaco, which I ate immediately. Hopped up on sweets, I spotted my friend Scotty on the corner. After Scotty caught his breath from a wicked surprise punch to the belly, I gave him a twinkie and we feasted together upon the scrumptious hostess bonanza.
Without Hostess, I will not longer have an excuse for punching people in the gut.
So sad 🙁
Hostess Cupcakes Requiescat in Pacem. May the Heavenly Holy Trinity chomp upon the delicious brain rotting delights of your creamy centers and smash their fists into each other’s tummies for eternity.
It’s been over a year since I tossed my Nike’s in the trash. Since then I have been running either in thin Tarhumara sandals or straight barefoot.
Last summer was a disaster. I didn’t run much because I battled lower leg injuries: Achilles tendinitis, a torn calf, and wicked bruises on the ball of my foot. All of the injuries resulted from over striding and doing too much too soon.
Now that I have overcome the difficulties I am having the summer I was hoping to have last summer. I’m back up to my previous mileage. And I’m loving my runs.
Here are three miraculous benefits I enjoy from running without shoes:
I have run 9 miles in the heat without ANY blisters on my feet. I challenge any shod runner to five miles without blisters. I am astonished after each run. On occasion I will get a tiny blister on my toe or near the ball of my foot, but they’re nothing like the heel blisters I used to get in shoes.
No lower back pain.
I took a break from running because my lower back was killing me. After each run, it would ache for days. Barefoot running has eliminated the pain. For my longer runs, I may feel a slight twinge of pain during the run, but it vanishes hours later. Barefoot running automatically improves posture while leading to lower impact forces. The bouncy cushioning of shoes blinds the foot from the terrain. As a result, the runner tends to either heel strike or hit the ground harder than he or she would in bare feet. If you want to see a fluid PERFECT barefoot stride, watch any barefoot toddler run this summer. Barefoot children run with excellent form. And they DO NOT heel strike on the concrete or the lawn.
Super Spiked Runner’s High.
Maybe it’s childlike stride or perhaps it’s the steady pounding rhythm of my feet that releases the delicious sensation of flight, the wild insights, and the glorious communion the sexy universe. She kisses my arms face and neck with her cool breezes, she fills my eager lungs with the fresh essence of air and the scent of wet cedars; she delights me with the squish of soft earth, twisting a gentle tickle through my toes. Three miles completely barefoot in the woods is almost like smoking a joint–not that I would know what smoking a joint feels like 😉
Are you eating the one deadly ingredient in most foods? If Yoplait Yogurt orPowerBarEnergy Gelhas passed your lips, your intestines could be infested with the potent venom. Worst of all, the sticky toxin is the number #1 ingredient in American convenience foods.
Imagine two rats. One black, the other white. The black rat, eats the mystery sweetener. The white one puts its crooked teeth to regular table sugar. After about a week, both rats have consumed the same number of calories. But the black rat is deformed; it’s belly is distended with abnormal body fat. The tiny beast can hardly move. Blood tests reveal an alarming spike in its triglycerides. Further investigation proves that the sweetener that the black rat ate was directly metabolized to produce fat.
What is name of the mystery poison that the black rat consumed?
The easiest way to eliminate intake of high fructose corn syrup is to eat whole foods. Do not eat convenience foods. For runners, energy gels and drinks are super easy to make yourself. Not only are they more cost effective, they’re much healthier.
Blogger’s Cut my Delete Scenes: Scene 1 Sugars in Disguise: Any ingredient that ends with “ose” is a sugar: maltlose, sucrose, dextrose, fructose etc. are all sugars. While these sugars aren’t as damaging as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), they don’t promote health. The FDA put its foot down for the identification of High Frucotose Corn Syrup on food labels. Companies cannot hide high fructose corn syrup as easily as they can hide sugar. One slick food empire executive really slid sugar under the table with the phrase “evaporated cane juice.” It almost makes sugar sound healthy.
(I “deleted” this scene because it was a little off topic.)
Scene 2 Corny sugars in disguise:
Gatorade switched the branding around 2011. The drink is sweetened with a sucrose-dextrose mix. But it’s still sweetened with a corn based sugar.
In the middle of my training for a barefoot half marathon, I discovered that the old path was lost. Though I did NOT awaken in a dark wood, new thoughts splashed through the volatile chemical cocktail of my mind. The sexy electronic voice of the RunKeeper lady announced, “Time: blah blah minutes, blah blah Seconds. Distance: blah blah miles.” When she finished speaking, the adolescent voice of a blue haired, nose ringed teenage boy filled the void.
“Hey, where are your shoes guy?”
If you have read this blog at all, you will know those words bring out the Hulk in me. I created a podcast and wrote some posts about some of my kick-ass comebacks to that annoying question. (On New Years, I came close to punching a jerk who kept harassing me during my morning run.) But I ignored teenager this time. As he stood there blinking, his mouth slightly agape, I took a deep sip of the crisp Oregon air and realized that barefoot running has taught me three crucial lessons about my world.
The same terrain isn’t always the same.
The ever changing textures and temperature that the same patch of ground offers amazes me. The same route offers many varied delights that change according to the time of day, the weather, and the stride. Shod runners completely miss the world of sensations beneath their feet.
Crossing Comfort Zones Can Make Some People Cross.
When most adults see barefoot runners, they tend to assume that there is something wrong with the barefoot runner, not with their world view. Because they can’t run without shoes or or because they know nothing about barefoot running, they assume that what is true for them should be true for everyone else. That said, I have had interesting conversations with people who were genuinely interested in barefoot running. Breaking out of the comfort zone is good for your sole (Yes, I totally abuse that homophone). Every success I’ve enjoyed forced me to step outside the cozy prison of comfort.
I’m much stronger than I think. When my gaze hits the rough concrete before it gently lands on my feet, I marvel that my body can withstand the impacts of the unforgiving concrete. But it does. My feet, in fact, thrive on the hard pavement. I find it’s easier to run on asphalt than it is to run on the graveled part of the Tickle Creek Trail. Of course, the asphalt is not as soft as mud or grass, but it’s relatively comfortable, when your soles are up for it.
If you’ve never tried running without shoes, give it a try. Here are some resources to get started safely:
Sometimes what love knew in the morning it no longer believes at nightfall. December evening in California. I was alone, thinking about my life. In a few days I would standing barefoot on the icy cold rail of the Golden Gate gazing down at the cruel waves prowling the deep, wondering on which side I would choose to land.
That night at Orchard Valley, the cool California breeze tapped loose brittle maple leaves, lifting them into the hazy glow of the street lamps. The warm brush of the breeze did not chill me the way the cold blusters at Mt. Hood did. I smiled. Just before I stepped inside Orchard Valley, I inhaled to take in the pleasant aroma of the fresh roasted coffee mixed with brisk air.
Hundreds of miles from my wife, I was wondering if our marriage would last much longer. She had all but kicked me out. We argued constantly. She avoided me every chance she got. I couldn’t help but feel unwelcome. She seemed to wither whenever I came near. It was if I was a noxious odor, which could only be tolerated for brief moments. Then on a weekend hike she told me that she was no longer attracted to me. That she wasn’t happy with me. That she needed a break from me.
It was one of those moments that everyone has, the moment when you realize that the things you believed in the morning are no longer true at nightfall. Everything shifts. It feels like the earth beneath your feet is collapsing and everywhere you step the land crumbles. You feel like you’re falling into the abyss. When it happens, it leaves a black void. It feels like you’re trapped deep inside a mine-shaft without a candle or even a glimpse of sunlight. Suddenly, a piece of your soul is missing. The light is gone. You realize or think you realize that you’re alone.
Somehow drinking decaffeinated coffee at your favorite coffee shop is like finding a pack of matches in your pocket. With each tiny shot of light, the ache eases and you realize that there is a way out of the darkness.
As you sip, you remember this is the very place you took her there on first dates. You kissed her there on that very sidewalk. You enjoyed her laughter on that chair over there. You see yourself wiping the touch of cream off the tip of her nose. You feel the sorrow boiling again. But you’re in public so you control it.
You cast your eyes to the packet of raw sugar. You’ve always loved the design of that bag of shiny, sweet gems. You hope the flavor will brighten you a bit. You sip your bitter black coffee. You break open three more magic packets of the raw sugar. Pour, then stir.
A plump mexican musician with a ranchero straw hat plugs in his acoustic guitar. His calloused fingertips strum the instrument. He twists the tuning keys until the strings sing the right notes.
His rich voice opens the first song; immediately, you realize you aren’t alone in your quiet desperation. From the darkness of the sound hole the music bounces out . Each phrase soothes. Your sadness changes, it doesn’t go away, but it hurts a little less. The song has taken away its sting, replacing it with a throb that will fade.
When you return home. You see her as radiant as the first time you met. She is no longer repulsed by your presence. She still loves you. She will always love you. You know this. Just the way you knew that you loved her long before you met her. You know that she has always loved you as well. That she never stopped, and yet there was a moment when you believed she didn’t. You could let it haunt you; instead, you decide it was just a dramatic pause, the kind that makes the music even sweeter.