Thursday, March 18, 2010

(Almost) Barefoot

I'm one of those people who can't stand to wear shoes when I absolutely don't have to--they just make me claustrophobic. For instance, I feel really uncomfortable and uptight if I have to wear shoes while I paint. I don't know why, I've just always been this way. So when I heard about the "barefoot running movement", I was naturally intrigued. The word in running magazines, etc. is that barefoot running will help you avoid foot, knee, and back problems because your feet, sensing the ground, will send signals to your body to cushion the shock of running by working your joints in a more useful way to protect you. Apparently, wearing heavily padded running shoes causes us to slam into the ground with too much force and not the best form (often heel first, which is bad).

Boris made me promise that I wouldn't just go out and run barefoot in the street (might get some glass, etc.), so I've been investigating "barefoot" running shoes. I just bought a pair made by Terra Plana (called Evo) that I LOVE. They're not the five-finger ones that you may have seen that separate your toes (that really doesn't appeal to me at all), they're just like a combination ballet slipper and running sneaker. They have laces and are totally flexible, but the sole is just thick enough to protect your feet from getting cut by rocks, glass, etc. that might be on the street you're running on. The makers of the shoe tell you to start slowly and gradually work up to your normal running times. So the first day I just ran around the block and it felt great. Being who I am, I decided that now it was okay to just do what I normally do, so I did and I ran my usual 3.5 mile run. Well, it was fantastic. After the first couple of minutes, my feet actually just naturally took themselves into a whole different way of running and it was much more graceful and "floaty" than the usual. The muscles in my feet and lower legs are a little sore, but nothing outrageous. I'm guessing that I spend so much time barefoot that I didn't need as much of an adjustment period as most people might. So you can count me in as a new advocate for barefoot running!