Buy your running shoes. Start running. Read about barefoot running. Buy barefoot running shoes. Run there. You get hurt. You stop. Recovery. You start running again. It doesn’t hurt you anymore. And here you make yet another mistake: you get to the extreme consequence. The extreme consequence is the end of the progression: running shoes -> minimal shoes -> barefoot running shoes -> no more shoes.
Today I ran barefoot. Today I got hurt again.
It’s an evil different from the previous ones: it has nothing to do with joints, muscles, tendons.
I ran 5 kilometers. I had been preparing myself mentally for months. I ran with 3 millimeters of sole under my feet, but I had already mentally eliminated them. “What difference will there be?”. I’m ready. Tomorrow I will do it. I felt a teenage excitement on me, as if the computer I had longed for had to come in, or the last album of the World’s Coolest Band had to come out. Tomorrow morning, tomorrow is the big day.
Obviously I was prepared for every eventuality, less for the really insidious one: not the stones or the accidental obstacles (I had carefully chosen a road that I knew would be well cleaned). The enemy was the abrasion of the sole of the foot on the asphalt. Asphalt. The skin of the foot. The skin. Harder and thicker than any other square inch of skin on my body, but not enough.
That’s what those few millimeters of sole were for. You can avoid cushioning. The hexagonal mesh or the support or any chemical devilry that works elastically by compression can be avoided. But you can’t do much against abrasion: either you have thick skin like an elephant’s skin, or you’re prepared to develop the fastest blisters you’ve ever seen. I run and feel some pain on time. I don’t really care. It will be some pebbles that don’t slip away. I stop and brush the sole of my foot with the palm of my hand: nothing. I start running again. I quickly become an expert in the granulometry of the aggregates used for the asphalt: on sight and with 20-30 meters in advance I understand if I will suffer or not. And how much I will suffer. If the asphalt is shiny and reflective smile: fine grain size, a slight caress. If it is opaque prepare to hear *every* single inert.
But I’m grinding kilometers in the meantime. In short: hundreds of meters, let’s say.
I had gone boldly, confiding that the goal was the 5k, but if there were 3-4 high, why not? On the 3rd I think that there can be 2 more over 5. On the 4th I say to myself that I make another one and then I say goodbye.
I feel more and more precise and circumscribed pains in different points. I stop, I look, but you can’t see anything: it’s all black with dust and dirt. Very primitive, very crude. Much contact with nature and everything you want. But in short.
I start to think that my plans to run barefoot throughout the summer are rapidly shrinking: I run barefoot today. Why do I do it all summer?
I wanted to try. There you go. 5 km. I’m doing another 300 meters for pride, but yes, come on!
I stop. I look at the sole of my foot: dark, black, nothing.
I’m taking a shower. I clean well: blisters appear under my big toe. Even an abrasion on my heel, a heel that “should never” have touched the ground. I’m not explaining it to myself, but it burns, as if I’d put out cigarettes on it.
I walk like an old man and get dressed. I think. I did it for RunLovers. To try. To challenge myself. The challenge succeeded: I did it. I don’t think I’ll do it again: barefoot shoes – especially Vibram FiveFingers – are now so sophisticated that they ensure an “almost barefoot” experience: you have the same feeling, without abrasion.
I just don’t see and understand the sense of running barefoot.
From the biomechanical point of view, it doesn’t change much: those who already run with tip or middle foot can do so immediately.
From other points of view, it changes.