Salt, Vinegar, and Feet

Blog entry posted by rb2001, Apr 8, 2016.

Ow, ow, ow. Muther-ow! ow.

All my barefoot runs, which have been only a few, have benfitted from smooth, clean surfaces: the gym till I got booted and the sidewalk on the two warm days in early March. I decided to change that last night.

The mornings are still a bit cold for me to handle the barefoot run. We are barely in the 40F range at 5:30 A.M. when I run. But the daytime felt like true spring. At 5:00 P.M. and 65 degrees, I decided couldn't wait for my mornings to warm up. A short run in my naughty shoes was an emotional must. I covered myself sufficient for public decency laws, but remained a metatarsal exhibitionist, and ran. Only this time I spurned the smooth surfaces.

Around here, winter turns the sides of the roads into medieval torture apparatus. We gravel the roads after the summer cools down but before the fall freezes. This helps manage snow and ice build up on the roads. Cars drive the rock into the tarmac the season but the are are ignored and never smooth. On top of this, the plows scrape the roads free of ice as well as any loose debris and pushes it to the sides of the roads. Snow blowers often add to this.

By the spring thaw, the sides of the roads look a lot like Micky Rourke's face. They are pocked, rough and peppered with pebbles that have yet to be rounded.

I read @Barefoot Ken Bob about running on gravel and this was motivation enough. My feet were tougher, but needed more tuff. I would commit my run to these abrasive edges. The experience was deeply educational.

I noticed how I adjusted my steps when catching a small rock in the crease of the forefoot. I bent at the hips and the knee, but he next step came nonetheless. Often the pebble stayed with me for several steps before I made a swishing motion on the next land to remove it. I would land on my heels after my forefoot strike to ease experience of the rock. I found relief when the rough road remained, but the loose rock subsided. Still, I kept my stride small and my pace slow as I trained my fast twitch muscles to act faster and my speech to swear less.

Two miles into it, my feel felt hot. I wanted to stop and possibly should have, but I kept imagining this bearded guy with an autographed copy of his book next to me laughing and saying "you gotta want it." I did want it. I have been reading and writing about running and BF running for a several months, but for all of it, my feet have been mostly shod. The time to end the hypocrisy had come.

I reached my home three miles in. I turned on the hose faucet. The air may have warmed, but the water still said December. It was heaven. I washed my feet, stretched and sat down to enjoy some Netflix binging.

Thirty minutes later, I had recovered. Whatever pains and changes I felt during the run were not lingering. My feet cooled, but they were not tender. My tired thighs and calves were not strained. My knees felt great. All of these acted like they wanted to surrender during the run, but none were tortured. They weren't saying, "you're killing us." They were saying, "this is new."

I remember my first crack at a salt and vinegar crisp. It felt like an raid on my mouth, but not like a military raid, more like a surprise party raid. It shocked me, but once done, I was ready to begin again. They are the only chip I snack on anymore.

Barefoot running on the rough felt same way. I thought I didn't like it, but within 30 minutes I was ready to go again. I resisted doing so on the explanation that I should avoid Barefoot Running Exuberance Syndrome and that I really like the first season of Flashpoint.

I feel I have crossed a diesel soaked bridge and left a flare behind as I exited.

About the Author

Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by public incredulity.