Monday, June 28, 2010

I Did It Again -- I Ran Barefoot

Today was my third time running a mile barefoot.  It was fantastic.

When I started this blog I thought -- and I still think -- that this is either going to be a blog about a woman's gradual metamorphosis into a barefoot runner, or it was going to be a blog with a few posts about someone who gave it a try and fizzled out.  But immediately after each barefoot run I lean more towards the first blog, because I am so amazed at the experience I am having running this way.

Before I head out, as I wrote on another page, I give a little shudder at the thought of running a mile without shoes on.  But it only takes a few steps before everything feels so right in a way that I haven't felt since childhood, and I know that I am headed in the right direction.

I took some videos today of my barefoot run and I'm going to post them in a special place in the web I call "Frescamari's Practice Room."   Frescamari's Practice Room is a posterous blog where I post clips of me practicing singing and kind of journal and note in a sloppy kind of disordered way all about what I'm trying to accomplish when I am practicing.

I'm have posted the videos I took of the little steps out to barefoot run today.  In them will be are some pictures of the surfaces I'm running on and some little commentary about how it feels to walk on the surfaces.  If you are interested, here's a link to click:

Barefoot Running Videos -- Part I
Barefoot Running Videos -- Part II

In a book I'm reading about barefoot running The Barefoot Running Book: A Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Barefoot and Minimalist Shoe Running by Jason Robillard, he writes a section on "comebacks" for comments a barefoot runner might get from onlookers and bystanders.  So far I have received amazingly few looks or comments.  I don't know if that's because I am in an urban area where all kinds of people do all kinds of strange things and people get used to just blankly observing -- "Ho hum -- cars zooming by -- blink -- man with dog -- yawn -- strange guy doing yoga in the park in bikini bathing suit --blink -- lady feeding 25 cats out her front door -- zone -- somebody's mom with dog running barefoot, etc...."

Today, I heard pounding on the ground behind me like a herd of antelopes approaching.  Before I knew it I was in the midst of being passed on the left and on the right by a group of teenage boys out for a run.  I would tend to get nervous when packs of teenage boys approached -- but NOT when they are running.  Because a pack of teenage boys out running are doing something positive and healthful. They are working on goals.  They are organized.  They've learned to give up comfort and burn their youthful boy energy in a focused way.  They are developing self-discipline and stamina.  Coming toward me in a pack like that they emanated a sense of group purpose.  Wow, this is what male energy working together can be like.  It's powerful.  That power of the pack.

This must be the high school cross country team getting together for a run, I thought.

They were young, fast, and strong, and wearing shoes.  They all passed me and left me in the dust.  My footsteps were soft, soundless and catlike compared to their pounding hooves.

I wonder if any of them noticed I was running barefoot, I thought?  Even though they were concentrating on their run, and went by so fast that it seemed like there wasn't time to notice, they must have seen me as they approached.  Even to just make a mental note of the scenery.  They had to see me because they had to move around me.

That's the thing about running, is that while you're out there, little things go by and sometimes the impression of something you saw remains or causes you to reflect.  I just had a feeling that someone in that crowd must have noticed the barefoot.

I was on a cross-country team in high school, and there were little "happenings" that just seemed so insignificant, but which kind of stay with you.  The little "happening" leaves an impression.  Perhaps one of those boys reads about running and is familiar with the barefoot trend.  Perhaps one of them just saw me, thinks it's weird, but doesn't know he is destined to be a barefoot runner someday and will then look back and remember that first glimpse he had of someone doing it in bare feet.  I may be the first person some people see do that.

A little after the pack passed me and left me in the dust the slower runners came along.  Even these slow stragglers on this young team were running faster than I was.

I thought back to my own days running cross country.  A friend of mine had asked if I could join the team because they needed five girls to have a team.  I was very slow.  We practiced with the boys team and I was always way way behind everyone else.  So, these stragglers reminded me of me.  Sometimes it's the stragglers, oddly enough, who later become the "true" runners.

The last member of the team to come along was walking.  It was hard for him.  He was taking a rest.  I think he, even walking, was moving faster than I was.  He walked for half a block but then resumed running.  I wanted to call out to him and tell him he was doing great.  It's okay to stop and walk.  I never knew that when I was  young.  I imagined that he was not enjoying himself.  When you have to stop and walk it's often because you just don't have the will to go on.  At least that's why I would have done it.  But now I know that walking a little can rejuvenate you on a run and make a run fun again because you get a little rest.

Well, that was my barefoot running experience for today.  I went out, ran the same mile as the other times, got passed by a boys cross country team, reflected on a lot of things, and came home feeling amazing.


Anonymous said...

I love this new blog! :-)

Avocational Singer said...

Thanks, Robin. You already know I love your blog The Athletic Performer and that you are a tremendous inspiration to me.