Two weeks ago I began running barefoot.
After my first run my feet got tender to the point that I had to hobble home, seeking solace in any soft patches of grass I could find. (My dignity prevented me from army crawling home.). At times I would begin to push through the pain and jog, as it would get me home faster than walking, even though my body was screaming to take it easy to prevent exacerbating possible injuries. I’m stubborn though, so you can guess how this turned out.
I spoke with a friend who has been running barefoot for quite some time now, to the point that he’s able to run double-digit miles and, most recently, on harder terrain like gravel. His advice was to take my Vibrams along, so that once my feet became tender I could put them on to alleviate the pain.
The funny thing about running barefoot is that once you feel the pain, you’ve already done a lot of damage. It hurts less to run than it does to walk, because if you’re running correctly, there is less pressure on your feet. When you walk you feel the pressure on your feet as you push off the ground for each step, however when you’re running you rely more on your leg muscles to get your feet off the ground. (Picture your knees//thighs lifting, rather than your feet pushing.) As such, by the time your feet are telling you to slow down it’s too late and you realize that slowing down is a really painful process– a process that requires a lot of patience and perseverance.
Still, regardless of all of the pain and patience, its extremely empowering and meditative; it’s strangely soothing.
Life is a lot like running– pain demands to be felt; going slowly hurts, but going quickly can hurt more in the long run; sometimes you just need a soft patch of grass, while other times you need to sit and allow the strange looks and silent judgement of passerbys; failure is inevitable, but when you’re miles away from home the only choice is to keep going.
“You’re gonna be okay. Life is just like this. It’s just running. Every step you take there’s something telling you it hurts, telling you to stop, to give up. If you listen to it, think about it, it makes an argument. You can see where it’s coming from, feel some sort of truth in it. […] The Truth is, all you have to do is take that next step. You don’t even have to do anything. Momentum is already taking you there. So rather, you just surrender and let that next step happen. Again, and again, and again, until those steps become a beat, going back and forth, back and forth…” -Wisdom from a friend