Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Barefoot Beginnings

I am training to be a barefoot runner. Go on, ask the questions. It's okay, you won't be the first. "You can do that?" "Doesn't it…. hurt?" "You mean, like outside?" "Why?"

The answers so far are… yes!... don't know yet… yes!... let me tell you a story.

I've been running with my dad since I was in middle school. During our runs we would talk about my races and work on solving life's big problems, like friends, school, and the unknown. I ran my first half-marathon alongside my dad and he cheered me on in my first marathon in 2005. I have definitely not always loved running, but I do love running with my dad.

With father's day around the corner, I was brainstorming what to give my dad. I looked into recently released books on running and two caught my eye: Unbroken and Born to Run. Both were fantastic - purchased for father's day - and that's when this crazy venture started.

First of all, as background, I recently took  6 months off of running while living in Africa and have been struggling to get back in the groove. It's hard enough to find the gumption to run outside in Minnesota's cold, never-ending winter let alone with imaginary sandbags weighing you down.

I've also been wearing my current running shoes for almost 2 years and even ran a marathon in them, in 2009. According to many people my shoes have seen their best days, exceeded their 300 mile - 1 year max and need to be replaced. I also have orthotics - that I've worn for over a decade - that saw their better days many years ago and have been screaming for a makeover.

So, I started contemplating what to do for my next pair of shoes. Should I get another pair of Nike Air Structure Triax - the same brand that I've worn for over 10 years? Maybe I don't quite need new shoes because my knees don't hurt too bad yet - the tell-tale sign that I need new shoes stat. Maybe I should try some of those eco-friendly shoes? I have a hard time throwing shoes in the trash, when I know it can take up to 1000 years for a typical running shoe to break down.

After reading Born to Run I found an answer to my shoe dilemma - no new shoes are needed (at least not yet) - and I also found renewed running energy. This blog is about my journey and experiment with barefoot running. Over the past few weeks I have been scouring websites upon websites for information on barefoot running and minimalist running (basically running with a slipper on your foot for protection but with no arch/heel support). I watched videos, read blogs, researched minimalist running shoes, broke the news to my family and began my training. As I could not find many blogs detailing the experiences of barefoot beginners, I hope you find my ramblings and observations useful… whether you decide to take the plunge with me or prefer to read about the so-called crazy things that others are doing.

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