Isn’t it wonderful when people respond positively to your writing? I always enjoy interacting with readers. Here is a wonderful story I received from a reader. Enjoy.
My name is Jarod. And I’m writing to tell you about about how your website and barefoot running changed my life.
About five years ago, chronic back, knee, and heel pain was killing me. It got to be so bad that I started to HATE running. My doctor said that I was getting too old for running and that I should take up another sport like swimming or yoga. I quit running cold turkey and did some hot yoga instead. I strained some muscles from the yoga; so I took up swimming. Swimming was OK, but I kept getting ear infections, I ended up riding a bike. I was close to quitting biking because the pain in my ass was almost as bad as pain in my back from running.
Then I read Born to Run. I found your blog while I was searching for barefoot running blogs. I learned a lot about barefoot running and shoes from your posts. And I really enjoyed the section about learning to run without shoes.
I tried running without shoes, but my feet started to hurt all over. Then I took your advice and gave Xero Shoes a try. They were just what I needed. My knee , back, and heel pain are gone.
I just wanted to thank you for the resources your blog provides. It was a real help to me. Thanks.
And now I take advantage for a SHAMELESS AD PLUG:
These Barefoot Shoes Saved my Sole and Got me to LOVE RUNNING AGAIN!
Leona shuffled to center of the stage with an armful of coral snake hoollahoops. She was wearing a tight bronze bedazzled leotard that showed much more of bosom than she wanted. Someone wolf whistled. It wasn’t her fault, her boobs seemed to swell and bulge by the minute. She knew all the boys in the school just by looking at the tops of their heads, but she never said, “My face is up here.” Instead she opted for, “Your worship pleases me. Go in peace my son.”
She spun the first snake around her waste; it whipped around, slithering gracefully around her curvy figure. Just as she bent to add another snake, the roof of the school theater trembled. Dust from the splintered rafters spilled down.
“Earhtquake!” someone from the back yelled. Instantly, the students darted to the exit all at once, hopelessly clogging their portal to freedom with the frantic arms, fists, and legs of teenagers in a full panic.
But the earth wasn’t moving; the ceiling was; soon after, a loud crack thundered through the auditorium. A huge black bag fell from the ceiling. If Leona hadn’t dashed from the center of the stage, the bag would have squashed her, for where she had just stood, the enormous bag punched a meteoric crater.
The auditorium was silent. Everyone was looking at the contents that had just taken center stage. The students at the crammed at the doors dispersed, mindlessly toward the stage, entranced by the mysterious bag. Their gaze fixed on the shiny, huge, silver zipper attached to what was clearly a body bag.
The ribs of the zipper had popped open, revealing the bag’s astonishing bounty. Leona reached toward the bag. With much effort she heaved out a solid gold brick. Mindlessly, she lifted it so everyone could see. The stun of silence lasted only for a moment.
….The Elephant Room….
Mr Edwards had never even taken the stage for a high school production, he had never attended a Broadway show, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a drama teacher. It wasn’t as if he hated drama. In his own way, he loved it. He just didn’t have a talent for it. His degree was in Communication Studies; it was the closest he could get to the stage. And he barely escaped university with that. His professors consistently marked him down for theatrics, Professor Poole, even wrote” histrionics”.
“This is NOT the elocutionary school,” Professor Poole said, “You’re delivering a presentation about outsourcing technical support, not Death of a Salesman. Drop the bad Chinese accent. No role playing, just the facts.”
At present, Mr. Edwards looked at his classroom; there were thirty chairs, but only seven students. The room was practically a basement. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. He could still taste some of the bowl he had smoked at lunch; his latest crop of mystic magic had pleasant way of sticking the skunky taste to his teeth. He sipped some water. His mouth was really dry.
“Extra credit for attending the talent show tonight” he said. Then he took a swig of water.
“Acting” he said in loud and over articulated voice; he enjoyed the vibrations rumbling through his chest.
What magic! he thought. Wow. I’m doing the speaking thing, the thing which makes my marshmallow lungs bellow wind and strum the wet fleshy chords of my throat. I don’t even know how I do that. It’s amazing. I’m turning an invisible mess into hard sounds that drift into the to minds of my students. Speaking is so impossibly magnificent.
He took another sip of water.
“Acting” he said again, “is a cloud floating through the sky of your mind–he could see them floating--it takes on many shapes–he watched the imaginary clouds turn into an elephant–it your job to give the shapes form–the elephant solidified into a mean gray mass of fury–to flesh them out–the elephant lowered it’s tusks and charged–to draw them convincingly into a moving three dimensional picture of emotion–the elephant slammed into Mr. Edwards brain exploding in a puff of butterflies.
It is your job,” he told his students, “to make lies true.”
“It is your job,” thought Leona, “to butcher metaphors and rip off other people’s ideas and claim them as your own.” She drew swirls in her notebook next to the coral snakes she had drawn earlier. She took care not to harm the evil devil Allan had drawn during lunch break.
Something soft and powdery brushed against her face. She stopped doodling. Leona looked up at the colorful wings flapping in front of her. There was a flurry of butterflies twirling around Mr Edwards head. But that wasn’t what kept her eyes on Mr. Edwards.
Mr. Edwards said, “Did someone turn on the heater” he felt feint, nausated, and more drunk than stoned, but also surging with a strange electrical crackle. He was sweating furiously; his breath swift, shallow, but suffcient; he had enough air, it was just coming into him in a different way; he was panting.
Leona’s mouth gaped. She blinked; she rubbed her eyes; she blinked again, but nothing changed what was happening. She watched Mr. Edwards eyes shoot around the room.
Was his skin changing color? she thought. No, it was just the heat. Heat in an air conditioned room? Just a wild flush? No,it was more than that. His skin turned into the color of blood.
Leona looked at the other students; good she thought I’m not the only one. I’m not crazy, this isn’t a hallucination But she wished it was just a hallucination because from Mr. Edward’s wispy hairline burst two twisted ivory horns.
(The stories above are from my first ever YA novel. It’s a compilation of shorts that all tie together somehow. Everyone is barefoot.)
How I safely and comfortably run barefoot in the snow.
My Safety Tips
I bring a hefty pair of wool socks when I run in the snow. I put them on my if and when my feet or toes go numb. I massage my feet/toes to get the circulation going before I put on the socks. The socks are emergency protocol: GMAH “Get My Ass Home.” (As long as the wool isn’t worn through AND your feet are NOT NUMB, the wool socks will allow for LONGER running in cold weather. Wool is great because it stays warm even when it’s wet. Cotton socks are a BIG FAT FAIL for snow running. They will make your feet colder because they sponge water, they’ll freeze onto your toes, causing foot rot in chilly climates. Kill Cotton for Cold Climates.)
I stay close to home. I use my 1 mile route and just do laps. So, I’m always less than a mile from home–my place is close to the center of my loop; as a result, I can quickly cut down the streets to get to my place ASAP.
I STOP RUNNING & MASSAGE my FEET if my TOES go NUMB. Numbness is BAD. It makes it easy for sharp metal, glass, etc. to slice my foot. I ALWAYS, STOP, GET WARM. I never try to Run through Numbness.
Whilst traveling to California, I had the divine pleasure of making my way through the ever so tender and caring arms of airport security. At PDX, the line was 45 minutes long and the security guard in charge of the thing wore a wrinkled uniform that forced his ample belly to pop over his belt. Also, the man needed a proper shave for he had missed some stubble below his chin. And his left shoe was untied. But the worst thing about this guy was his directions, he said, “There’s a shorter line this way” then he motioned toward the left of the packed line I was in. I and some other people in my line headed in the direction he pointed. It lead to a “Do not enter, Restricted area.” When I cut back in line, the guard tried to get me to move to the end.
I said, “You told us the line was shorter there, but that’s a restricted area.”
He stammered, “Oh, I uh, meant the line over there,” then he pointed in the opposite direction.
He said, “Sorry, but you have to go the end of the line, sir.”
I freaking hate it when people apologize for giving me orders, polishing with sir! It makes me want kick ’em in the teeth. I looked at the people who let me cut back in line and said, “Do you mind my staying here? Security gave me bad directions and my plane leaves in 15 minutes.” They said they didn’t mind. So I turned from the guard and staid put, luckily the slovenly guard didn’t push the issue. He went on trying to control the line.
At the security check point, like the rest of the flock, I was forced to remove my shoes. That happily freed my feet. I don’t wear shoes much and when I do, never
with socks. My bare feet, of course, brought some glares. The expression on persnickety elderly woman’s face made me want to laugh; it looked as if someone had dripped warm maple syrup down her spine. I shot her a winning smile and wink. I was surprised when she returned the smile. I decided to leave my shoes off for a while. I love my black converse, but they still give me blisters. It felt good to be barefoot in PDX. Walking without shoes makes the world feel bigger, plus it’s easier to soak up the energy of a place and PDX has a funky energy. A few minutes later, I spotted security headed my way. I promptly sat my ass down and put my shoes back on.
At SJ airport, I wasn’t the only person with bare-feet. The guy in front of me didn’t wear socks either. Of course, at SJ, I had endure a full body scan. During the scan I remembered that I had forgotten to remove a packet of eye drops in my LEFT pocket. “OH, Sh%#!”, I thought with my hands behind my head–firing squad style–while the scanner whirred me from head to toes. Sure enough after the scan, a guard approached, “Sir, follow me. Do you have anything in your RIGHT pocket?”
I said, “Not that I know of.” He padded my right pocket. Nothing. He looked to person manning the body scanner and said, “He’s clean.”
“Have a nice flight, sir.”
When I was well out of view, I reached into my LEFT pocket and administered my eye drop. They were in my pocket the whole time.
What do I think airports can do to improve travel? Let’s see. I think they’ve got humiliating innocent men, women, and children at security check-points down; they could, however, probably hire security guards that know how to shave themselves and give proper directions, and it wouldn’t hurt if the person running the body scanner knew his left from right.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that Mr. Valen Longfeather is making some major life changes. But, at heart, I’m still a fun loving hippie. In my latest YouTube Video, I kick, yet again, the horse of barefoot shoes–you see I still mix metaphors. You may wonder if I kick the horse with a straight bare foot or with a fancy sandal wearing foot or with some other stylish minimalist shoe wearing foot. The truth is that sometimes I kick it straight bare other times I kick it wearing classy sandals.
You are probably thinking that I am ramblings; you are probably right. Just watch the video. It is slightly more focused. It will take more than short hair, organization, goals, and better hygiene to tame this wild beast.
Thanks for watching, thanks for reading. May you be healthy, may you be happy, may you live with ease.
After my grandpa’s funeral, I trudged into the backroom were he passed away. I took off my dark blazer, white shirt, tie, and slacks and replaced them with blue shorts and white t-shirt. (My parent’s house was full; so I had to stay in the one room every one else wanted to avoid.)
I ran five miles that day. It was clear and sunny as is the case in California most of the year. My heart felt dead and heavy like tarnished lead. My neck slumped me toward the ground, my arms barely swung by my side; for the first few miles, I was miserable.
But around mile four, a presence overcame me. And I imagined Grandpa Perez as a teenager. His hair was freshly cut, short, thick, full, and lampblack; his figure tawny the color of bronze. He wore dark brown polyester shorts that were too tight, a bright white shirt (also way too tight), and, of course, his world famous black leather brogues. The shoes made me chuckle. I wonder if they ever left his feet. I suspect he may even have been buried in them. They had divots around the stitches, which, for some unspeakable reason, I associate with carpentry–the trade that brought him to California and which supported my young father until he was old enough to enlist in the Airforce. They were “nice shoes”: the kind I imagine an old world cobbler repairing with delight.
Even though my grandpa seemed sort of ridiculous in that outfit, his bones were no longer brittle as chalk, his skin was no longer like buzzard’s chin spattered with tan shoe polish, and his lungs no longer gurgled with each terrible gasping breath. For the last mile, my grandpa was young, strong, and full of life again. For the last mile, my grandpa was a runner, like me.
If you desire, you can walk on fire–barefoot running gives you thicker, stronger soles.
Vanquish the foes of your toes (pause) and heels. Running without shoes eliminates heel blisters and “black toenail”.
Improve sensation relations between you and the earth. Running with shoes is like kissing someone with a bag over your head. Your feet are as finely wired for sensation as your lips. Kiss mother earth with all your sole.
Bash Trash. Running bare motivates your neighbors to keep the streets clean and debris free. Also no more used running shoes to throw away in landfills.
Less Harm(a) for Your Karma. It’s easier to avoid snails, slugs, and beetles and tiny beings when running unshod.
I have written about the annoying things people said to me when they first saw me running without shoes. Lately, the comments have shifted.
One lady said, “I like your style.” Two of my neighbor’s children saw me running bare and ran along side me for a few blocks. In fact, my neighbor’s are so used to seeing me run without shoes that they say things like, “Not going bare today” when they see me running in sandals.
It’s odd. Like most things unconventional, barefoot running brings out the best and worst in people. I’m glad my neighbors are getting used to my naked ass feet stomping through our rough streets. I have a feeling that when spring hits, I won’t be the only one running without shoes.
My lower leg has transformed into a beautiful piece of art. Were I to shave it, it could serve as a shining example of the muscles of the lower leg; you can almost see the fibers of my tibialis anterior; heck I never even knew I had a muscle on the front of my leg. My new and improved lower leg is balanced, beautiful and it burns more calories with each step.
Why does it burn more calories?
As you may know I’m recovering from a torn soleus. I ripped it by doing too many eccentric heel drops and attempting to “run through lower leg pain”. Big mistake. But I learned my lesson.
Whilst recovering from the injury I supplanted my running regime with some of my wife’s Jillian Michaels workouts. Her program focuses on 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio and one minute of abs.
Ironically, it’s the strength portion that leads me to believe that barefooting burns more calories. The exercises in the strength portion involve a lot of movement. For example, Jillian has you do bicep curls as you do lunges. The idea is to work more muscles at once; thereby burning more calories. By burning more calories, she assures me that I’ll be able to fit into that “strapless dress”. (HMMM, I don’t think the neighbors would be too keen on a barefoot Indian dude with tattoos running down the street in a strapless dress. )
So, what the heck does that have to with barefooting? Remember my new lower leg? Walking barefoot puts all of the muscles of your lower leg into action. So much so, that lower leg and foot shape have visibly changed. Since barefooting puts more muscles to work, it stands to reason that it burns more calories. Probably not a truckload more, but step by step a little more than shoes.
Have you ever wanted to make your own running shoes? Steven makes it easy with his step by step Tarahumara Running Sandal Kits. He shows you everything you need to know to build a custom running sandal.
If you’re not into DIY, Invisible Shoes will also cut and construct a custom shoe for you. You just trace your foot and mail them the template.
If you’re going to run in a barefoot shoe, but don’t want to spend too much money for a running sandal, I highly recommend Invisible Shoes.