5 Mistakes Barefoot Runners Make

  1. English: Illustration of the pain pathway in R...
    English: Illustration of the pain pathway in René Descartes’ Traite de l’homme (Treatise of Man) 1664. The long fiber running from the foot to the cavity in the head is pulled by the heat and releases a fluid that makes the muscles contract. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Running on the Tips of the Toes
    Tippy Toe running will chew up your calves and achilles; it will also hammer agonizing spikes of torment into your sensitive metatarsals. (As the illustration shows, it may also activate the long fiber running from the foot to the cavity in the head to release a fluid that makes the muscles contract. It may also disrupt one of the four humors, thereby requiring bloodletting to restore balance). So, don’t run on your toes. Your heel should touch the ground, but it shouldn’t be the first part to strike the ground.

  2. Too Much Too Soon (TMTS)
    This doesn’t only apply to those who scamper the streets without shoes. It applies to everyone who races on foot. If pain darts through your lower leg, then you’re rushing your training. This is the most frustrating aspect of barefoot running. It’s taken me a few years to develop enough foot strength to run reasonable distances. Even a mile barefoot walk can give some people issues. It takes time, but your body will adapt. Persistence, not distance is the key. BTW, I cross train with Pilates and I do High Intensity Interval Workouts on my non run days. When I was injured, I still exercised I was even able to adapt some of the cardio HICT moves.
  3. Running Straight Barefoot without Sandals or “Barefoot Shoes”
    There is nothing wrong with wearing sandals or truly minimalist shoes, such as Merrill foot gloves. I do most of my running in sandals, not only because the streets in my neighborhood are brimming with tiny stone spikes (pain pyramids), but also because I enjoy the jaunty style. Let’s face it, even the Tarahumara Indians run in sandals. Most runners do not expose their naked feet to the scraggy pavement. If you live in California or some other place that offers sunshine and smooth streets, you may ignore the previous sentence, but if, like me, you live in Oregon or a place with rough streets,  heed my warning. I do enjoy running completely barefoot now and again, but most of the time, I gallop about in sandals.
  4. Monotonous, Plodding Gait 
    The main benefit from barefoot running is the ability to connect with the planet as it spins around the sun. But that doesn’t mean that you should copy your stride over and over again, every step of the way. It is important to change pace and gait occasionally, especially on longer runs. Sometimes, I run like a gazelle, skipping my body along the dirt trail, other times I run like a cross country skier, gliding myself over the long asphalt road. I often do interval sprints from power line to power line; other times I just jog at slow to go pace. I have even been known to twirl myself like flamenco dancer; now and then, I even begin or end my runs with a flashy cartwheel.
  5. Giving Up Too Soon
    Because it takes some time to develop foot strength, many runners give barefoot running a try for a month or two. Usually, they end up getting top of foot pain, achilles pain, calf injury, or shin splints. That’s when they give up and write articles such as “Dangers of Barefoot Running”. While you should not run through real pain, barefoot running does hurt a little. Progress doesn’t happen in the “comfort zone.” Getting past the initial aches is part of the fun. Think of the discomfort as friendly college hazing from the barefoot running gods. Like all gods, they require sacrifice. The oblation of pain, is a small price for many joyful secrets the gods will share with you.
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Running Barefoot in Fall: Crippling Dangers Finally Revealed

Leaves floating in an autumn breeze.
Trees cover a multitude of sins. But leaves can be hell.

It was  once said by an artist with an afro, “Trees cover a multitude of sins.” They do. But their brittle leaves conceal a deadly slew of treacherous sharp blades, dirty syringes, and filthy goop.

Don’t step into pain and misery this fall. Learn to spot  the Top Dangers Lurking  Under the Fallen Leaves.

  • Rusted Screws & Nails & Hypodermics
    The curb is a magic magnet for the remains of backyard mechanics, lusty teenage lovers, and pock ridden junkis or cheap-ass  diabetics who refuse to use sharps containers. The refreshing scent of wet pavement has glazed the sharp points of nails, screws, and metal shavings with a lethal dose of tetanus inducing rust. It’s not a bad idea to be up to date on your tetanus shots.
  • Slimy, Wet Rubbers, Minty, Brown Spit, and Squishy, Sticky Feces
    Sleazy leaves hug the nastiest filth imaginable. A leaf that clings to the pavement in the breeze conceals a disgusting surprise.
  • Pain Pyramids & Rocks & Action Figures
    Pain pyramids are arrowhead pebbles that have shaped themselves into stone spikes with a sharp point on every tip. Landing on them will blast a four letter bolt of pain from your toes through your mouth. Hitting a rock or hard packed plastic object with a naked foot usually isn’t too discomforting, until it turns into a seemingly inexplicable dull pain on the top of your foot or into a marble sized bruise in the ball of your foot, both of which will delicately embed an annoying ache in your foot–the same way listening to One Direction or Mit Romney effectively places an annoying ache in your brain.

What’s a barefoot runner to do?

  • Avoid stepping on raised leaves.
  • Trail Run instead of running on the streets.
  • Stay away from curbs and other drainage areas.
  • Wear —> Sandals or minimalist shoes when running on paved roads.
  • Be Current with Your Tetanus Shot.
  • Vote for Obama or help me move to France

The good news is that the universe has blessed most barefoot runner’s with an amazingly strong set of feet. Anyone who has spent a summer running barefoot on concrete will have a near indestructible hide on their sole. I have accidentally stepped on broken bottle shards, nails, and screws without injury.

May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.

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Want to Read an Inspiring Story About Barefoot Running?

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.

Barefoot Running Got me to Love Running Again.
Now I can run again.

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:

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The Secret’s Out: Amazon’s Ultimate Killer Barefoot Athletic Gear & Super Nutrition Online Store in the Works

Girl shopping without shoes.
Enjoying the freedom of shopping without shoes.

Doesn’t it feel great to be active and eat healthy? Isn’t it awesome to live in a time where it’s easy to own pretty much anything you want with the click of a mouse?

Most people don’t know that Amazon also offers an array of healthy groceries and nutritional aids for the barefoot athlete.

I love Amazon! So, I’ve joined forces with them to create Amazon’s Ultimate Killer Barefoot Athletic Gear & Nutrition Online Store–a store that offers the very best Amazon’s vast inventory of knowledge and products and the very worst in titles for an online store. But I need your help. I need to find the BEST Amazon has to offer to the barefoot athlete.

Help me out, find some of your favorite barefoot Gear at Amazon. Post the items in the comment box so I can add them to the Ultimate Killer Barefoot Runner’s Life Amazon Super Store, which is also known as Amazon’s Ultimate Killer Barefoot Athletic Gear & Super Nutrition Online Store.

Visit Amazon Right Now

http://www.amazon.com

Save your Sole, Shop Bare!

 

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The 3 Miracles of Barefoot Running

Save Your Sole Run Barefoot
Save your Sole Run Barefoot

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:

  1. No blisters.
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 😉
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How I Run Barefoot in the Snow

How I safely and comfortably run barefoot in the snow.

My Safety Tips

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
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How to Wear Shoes & Not Be a Dumb-Fuck Hick

The fight happened early in the morning New Years Day, 2012. It was, clear, cold, and windy. Patches of frost powdered the shaded parts of the road. A few strips of shiny ice painted the rough black asphalt. My Achilles were aching a bit; so, I decided to cut my run a little short. I went down a street on my shorter route, the route I haven’t taken since summer.

Like most other barefoot runners, I ran in the middle of the empty street.

When I heard a car drive beside me, I edged over to opposite side of the road to let the vehicle pass. The driver slowed his rig, unrolled his window and shouted, “You alright!?”

I said, “Yeah, I’m great!”

He said, “Because you’re running barefoot in the middle of the street.”

“I know,” I said, “it feels fantastic.”

He said, “I mean you’re running barefoot in the middle of the road!”

I said, “I know. You said that. I’m not blocking your way. Drive on!”

He pulled over into a driveway a few houses ahead of me. He got out of his car and stood by the door, waiting for me to pass. When I was half way down the block, I heard him shout, “Yeah, you better keep running barefooter!”

I freaking lost it, my adrenaline was already pumping from pounding the icy concrete and my endorphin level was cranked up because it was the last leg of my run. I sprinted over to his car, shoved him, and said “What the Fuck! Keep running!? I run where the Fuck I want! How the Fuck I want! And when the Fuck I want! I wasn’t blocking your Fucken way. And if I was, you can drive the Fuck around!”

That scared the shit out of him. His tone changed.

“I was just concerned,” he said, “It’s cold and you’re running barefoot in the middle of the road. I just wanted to make sure you were alright.”

Then, even though I didn’t need to, I decided to state the obvious: the road is warmer in the middle of the street, there are fewer shards of glass, nails, metal scraps, pebbles, etc. in the middle of the street, and the pavement is generally smoother in the middle of the street. That dose of sensible logic relaxed him a bit. It’s NOT freaking rocket science, anyone with a brain bigger than a walnut could have figured it out.

Then I offered my hand in friendship, which, to his credit, he shook. He apologized for yelling at me. I decided to stop saying Fuck and be nice for a change; so I said, “It’s fine. We’re men. Sometimes shouting at each other is how we talk.”

I completely understand his point of view; he sees some guy running barefoot in the middle of street New Years morning. Maybe he thought I was high or something. That’s really stupid conclusion because I don’t know of any drug that would cause a person to suit up in running attire to go for a barefoot run at eight in the morning. I mean a barefoot running pill would kick the asses of other pharmaceuticals.

Jump from Sandy, OR to San Jose, California.  When I ran barefoot in Willow Glen, I did get a few quizzical stares, but no one said anything negative. The expressions conveyed puzzlement rather than objection. It wasn’t as if my being barefoot was like spitting chewed up walnuts in their faces. The few Californians who did speak to me while I ran barefoot said things like, “Right on Brother!” or “You’re hardcore!” or “That’s cool!”

This verbal fight wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with idiots saying stupid shit in Sandy.

In fact, I wasn’t going to post this because most of my neighbors are cool–they affectionately call me “the barefoot guy”.

Dear MINORITY of Dumb Fuck Hicks who live in Sandy,

When you see me running without shoes, grow a brain, pretend you’re from California, and just say, “Right on Brother!” or keep your Fucking mouth shut!

Barefoot at the Airport

English: Concourse D at Portland International...
Image via Wikipedia

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

The sunset silhouettes a FedEx plane and the B...
Image via Wikipedia

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.

Fly safe, fly bare.

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Covert Hippie Praises Sandals

Hirschvogel Sandals
Image via Wikipedia

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.

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