Another Dangerous Idea

5 April, 2010

The latest Dangerous Idea is barefoot running. This is just what it sounds like: running about without any shoes on.

Advocates of barefoot running say that heel-striking (and the padded shoes that allow us to run that way) is a bad idea and the cause of many running injuries. Detractors say that it’s a dangerous fad likely to cause more injuries than it prevents. Me, I liked going barefoot as a kid, even though I trod on bees now and then, and I decided to give it a go.

My first thought was to try this out on the beach. However, Sandymount Strand is composed mostly of sharp shells and dog poo. A quick thought experiment suggested that this would not be a good place for a tenderfoot to Try New Stuff™.

Instead I opted for the university running track. It’s not only clear of sharp things and icky things, but it’s made of rubbery stuff that feels good to run on. The other people using the track don’t seem perturbed by my unusual behaviour*; you can do a lot of strange things in the name of Sport.

I have been gradually getting my feet and calves used to the idea (in cautious increments of 400m, because otherwise I do not end up in the same place as my shoes :)). It’s interesting that running barefoot, which pretty much forces a forefoot strike, uses a different set of muscles to normal, shod, heel-strike running. I have been rudely reintroduced to my posterior chain, but I think we’re friends now.

I’m not really sure where this one came from. Maybe from the discovery of these footgloves. They are probably the most incredibly ugly shoes I have ever seen, but there is also a certain form-follows-function appeal that six-inch heels utterly lack**. I want some.

Maybe it’s because of the lady in my home village who doesn’t wear shoes. This extraordinary revelation, that you can just decide to not wear shoes, has been sloshing around in my head for a while now***. She is not the only one, either.

Even these short busts of barefoot activity have left me with a heightened awareness of what my feet are doing. An unfortunate side effect is noticing that the rest of the time, the world feels like a moist sock. I find myself wondering what the textures of the floors and paths would be like, and realise that I’m missing out on a whole chunk of experience. A dangerous idea, indeed…

* My plan, if I am challenged about this, depends on who’s asking. If the asker looks like they are on the track to Get In Shape For Summer, I shall fix them with a steely, determined stare and reply ‘Training.’ If, on the other hand, they look like they know what they’re doing, I’ll confess that I’m just having fun 🙂

** Insert Becky Rant #5, “Shoes Are Supposed To Make It Easier To Walk”, here.

*** It is also a revelation that it’s a revelation. What else did I miss?



  1. My dad has recently bought a pair of (unbeleivably expensive) shoes, that claim to be the anti shoe and force your feet to walk in the way they would if barefoot and on sand. Aka au natural like the masai warriors of africa. Personally I think it is a huge fad or at least a way of making money in the name of consumer “science”. Maybe we should all go barefoot instead, in X hundred years maybe we will evolve into hobbits and have wonderfully curly hair and tough soles on our feetsies. http://uk.mbt.com/
    It would look better than these boats of shoes anyway

    • What strange shoes. Like wearing trainers on a seesaw, then? Does he like them?

      • the amount they cost… I think he has too.
        Although he did buy a second pair online direct from china at a cheaper price

  2. http://tinyurl.com/yaoghd6


    • Um. Is that grey thing a display stand, or part of it? 😉

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