I like to run occasionally, sometimes for exercise and sometimes to get me going in the morning. I’ve done this for a lot of my life and have experienced different seasons of running – some more enjoyable than others. Lately, over the most recent years, running has become more interesting to me than ever before. I would say this has mostly to do with my new love affair with running on my naked feet.
Before I moved to England with my husband five years ago, I would never have guessed that a person wouldn’t go barefoot on a sunny day. Coming from southern California, I guess I might not have realized that some people don’t actually have sunny days. My time in England opened my eyes to hundreds of people who go shod all day – even in their house, rarely freeing their feet except for the occasional swim at the local pool, or perhaps the shower and maybe bedtime. It was then, amidst this contrast to what my life had previously been, that I began to seriously love going barefoot. Whenever I could.
Then in the pursuit of other minimalist living rituals, I discovered the concept of barefoot running. Apparently, I found out, people intentionally forget to put on their shoes before they go out for their run – and were making this a habit. The idea caught my attention and I continued to research what this meant.
Several arguments, combined with my own eventual trial and error, convinced me that barefoot running was indeed the way. And from that point onward, I have found it very difficult to find my shoes.
Reasons to go naked:
1. Ease – I like that I don’t have to put my shoes on. I do make up for this with the work of scanning a few paces ahead for pointy debris, but was doing that already more or less.
2. Cheap – So far I’ve saved money by ditching my shoes and not buying more. I have made my own huaraches, which worked a bit and I continue to look into recyclable ways to go minimally shod in the winter. Overall, I am saving.
3. Green – Less shoe buying means less stuff to throw away.
4. Minimal – I have a passion for clearing out the unnecessary in order to truly appreciate what’s important to me.
5. Healthy – Going barefoot is meant to strengthen foot muscles and help running form. I also find that being connected so closely to the ground has meaning, which makes me happy – another health booster. The niggle in my knee is much better when running without shoes, too.
6. Counter-cultural – Helping others to think about life outside the box is rewarding, even if I am the brunt of criticism, jokes or really funny looks…! I enjoy doing things differently, even if just for a time.
People worry about the cons to running barefoot (cuts, less arch support, etc) but I haven’t found these to be a problem. Granted, I am a pretty careful person and not prone to accident, so perhaps this helps. Most other barefoot runners I’ve listened to say that the cons are far less of an issue than we might make them out to be in our minds.
In short, running on my feet feels extraordinarily natural. And it’s fun, too.