Barefoot in the park

The most common question people ask me when I’m running around town (both for exercise and errands) is “how do you like your shoes?”.

My response is always “I LOVE them!”

For the past 5 years I have been wearing Vibram Five fingers, which I’ve heard called everything from “frog feet” to “alien shoes”. While I don’t think these are for everyone, they are literally the only thing I can put on my feet that makes my entire body feel phenomenal (even if they are absolutely hideous).

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Running my first Chevron Houston Marathon in my Vibrams.

I was first introduced to these by the brother of my boyfriend (TOTGA), who wore them when we hiked the Jewel Basin (which nearly killed me because I was such a sloth). Fascinated by the ideas behind this heinous footwear, I returned home and promptly purchased a pair off their website.

A few weeks later was the first time I wore them. I made the mistake of doing the Great Urban Race (which ended up being about 8 miles traversing across the Bayou City) in a new pair of shoes. Rookie move, Burns.

I should have properly worn them walking around and built up to running in them. Instead, I felt like an evil kitten had ripped my calves to shreds and placed sandbags where the muscles had previously resided. For two solid months.

Shortly after that fiasco, I started doing short 1 mile runs in them, completely pain free. I was hooked.

I went from being less active than Jessica Simpson during a pregnancy, to running a marathon in about 7 months. These shoes changed my life.

Fast forward to 2011 and I see a man running along the bayou, completely barefoot. Intrigued, I nearly killed myself chasing him down. When I finally caught him (Andrew Blaquerie was his name, I believe), I inquired about his bare feet.  He happily explained that he transitioned from Vibrams to going completely barefoot in a matter of weeks. Skeptical, I asked to see the bottom of his feet. They were surprisingly normal looking.

When I arrived home, I researched and found a book on barefoot running and not being patient enough to wait for the mailman, went to Whole Earth Provisions, and bought (and read) it that day.

feet, yo.

These are my feet. I hope there is never a day I regret posting this on the internet (I’m looking at you creepy foot fetish people).

A few days later, I got up the nerve to try running in Hermann Park. . .naked.

Foot naked. I said foot naked, right?

The doorman at my building thought I had lost my damn mind when I walked out dressed for a run without shoes on. He warned me of the danger my precious tooties would encounter in the park. He regaled me with tales of glass, sticks and stones. And worst of all, steaming dog dookie. Deep in my heart, I knew he was right, but being stubborn, I needed to learn for myself.

Do you know what happened?

The doorman was wrong.

*side note: every time I write “doorman” I think of this scene from “Knocked Up” and it cracks me up.*

I ran 3 miles around Hermann and LOVED IT. I felt. . .

Joyful.

Childlike.

FREE.

Did my feet feel a little tender and sore? Of course.

Did people look at me like I was a vagrant (in expensive running clothes)? Duh.

Did I do it again? Absolutely.

Since that day, I  have alternated between shoes and no shoes.  I typically like to run on concrete paths barefoot (it’s easier to see potential danger) and when it’s below 95 degrees (above that it burns my foot pads). I’ve also never run more than 8 miles barefoot, although I’d like to one day run a marathon sans shoes.  If it’s a trail run, or somewhere I am not familiar with, I will 100% wear my running shoes. Y’all would never hear the end of it if I got a stick lodged into my one of my giant paws.

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Running on air. Reason 340298433 I love my shoes.

As I’ve said a million times, I’m not a runner, or an expert on feet (is that even a real thing?), but have found these two (somewhat unconventional) things to work for me.

Do any of y’all have shoes (or feet) that you absolutely love?

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