There are as many reasons for running as there are days in the year, years in my life. But mostly I run because I am an animal and a child, an artist and a saint. So, too, are you. Find your own play, your own self-renewing compulsion, and you will become the person you are meant to be.
- George Sheehan

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Disbelievers

It's always amusing and frustrating to speak with shod runners who know nothing about barefoot running.  Some of you guys and girls are genuinely interested, while others are perfectly incapable of hiding your disgust.

Work on that, seriously.  It's obnoxious.

I was having dinner with some other folks awhile ago, and we got on the topic of how I got into barefoot running (we're all runners to some extent).  I went through my story, and everyone seemed to be listening.  But even then, I could tell that there is an inherent disgust for what I do.  And it kills a little part of me.  How do I know?  Because barefoot running used to disgust me too.  People just cannot hide their feelings for the idea of running around with no shoes.  It's a look of disgust, disbelief, and maybe even a little bit of "Ok, you're nuts, I'm not going to listen to you anymore."

It's disappointing.  It's fine if you don't like barefoot running, but honestly, don't knock it until you've tried it.  I'm glad I did, because it changed my running career.  I just don't understand why people feel the need to be so judgmental about what we do and do not wear on our feet.  I was guilty of this, but I changed my tune after I stepped out and had the guts to give it a shot.

The typical questions came up too, such as the old "What about stepping on glass!?"  ...What about glass?  Seriously!  Shod runners:  do you want to know the true secret about running barefoot and avoiding the danger of glass?  It's wisdom painstakingly passed on from barefoot runner to barefoot runner, and is reserved for only those who prove themselves truly worthy of this knowledge.  Here we go:

JUST DON'T STEP ON CRAP YOU DON'T WANT TO STEP ON.  Period.  This is not difficult.  Amazing, I know.

Nevermind the fact that I've seen glass only THREE times now in my year of barefoot running.  Three.  Does that sound like the imminent danger that every single shod runner seems so deathly concerned about?  No.  And even then, you use the highly engineered visual acquisition and guidance system you were born with (your eyes) to see it and step around it.  Glass is the first thing non-barefoot runners always bring up, and it's such a non-issue that I have to outright laugh at them sometimes.

It really seems that some shod runners must be totally out of touch with their surroundings when they run.  Is that the case?  Do you guys totally tune out when you go out for a jog?  Because it's seriously like magic for me to mention to some people that you can simply step around an object.  That you don't have to run through something uncomfortable like pebbles, glass, etc.  Wow.  It's amazing to me how out of touch some people seem.  They must get out there and roll through whatever with the nearly inch of rubber/foam/gel between their feet and the ground.  That's cool.  Enjoy your run.

Then there was the mention of stepping on hypodermic needles.  It's always been a joke for barefoot runners to mention, but someone actually seriously asked me about stepping on needles....all I have to ask is: WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE RUNNING!?  No, I don't make a habit of running in the slums, though apparently some runners do.

What else...I guess that's it.  I had a nice morning run along the beach.  The concrete sidewalk was perfect, and the scenery was new and interesting.  The sand's sort of a jerk when there's a lot of it to run through on the sidewalk, but for the most part the run was great.  The only issue was trying to breathe and relax in high humidity.  YUCK.  Guess I'll get used to it.

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