Hello from NC: Question

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by James Auman, Jun 15, 2019.

  1. James Auman

    James Auman
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    New member here in North Carolina. First question: where in Raleigh, NC can i find places safe for barefoot running newbies like myself, and are commonly used for barefoot running. Or can you describe the types of trails i should be looking for? roads? sidewalks? natural surfaces?

    Second, i've been going barefoot walking after my runs (with shoes). it feels so good to get those sweaty heavy shoes and socks off. It's so relaxing to my feet/body for some reason. Almost like a natural high. Other experience that?

    I also enjoy running shirtless and with lightweight shorts. The sun feels so good on my skin even though i'm freckled and have to be careful. I want to get to the point where i am only wearing a lightweight pair of shorts and nothing else. Is that common for barefoot runners to also want to run with the lightest and fewest clothes possible? on that note, i'm trying to find a super-short and lightweight pair of running shorts. Just enough to not get me a ticket, but no more. Any recommendations?
     
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  2. XoseM

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    1. welcome o/ Clean, smooth and HARD surface usually are better for the first runs.
    2. yesssss

    3. ...
     
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  3. Barefoot TJ

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    Welcome! Be sure to join the NC Chapter and ask them for the best places to run in your area. :barefoot:

    I found running light always made me feel free.
     
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  4. Jon from PDX

    Jon from PDX
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    Welcome!

    The concrete used for most sidewalks these days is perfect for barefoot running. This is especially true for beginners because it is uniform and visible: you can easily see where your feet will land, allowing you to think more about how you're moving than about avoiding painful things. But it is also true for more experienced runners: concrete feels cool, smooth, and soft.

    I also like well-worn trails where the dirt is rather well compacted. These trails feel about as nice as concrete, plus you're out of the hustle and bustle of built-up areas. They have lots of variation, which is delightful (and preferable to boring concrete) over long distances, but does require paying attention to every step. These trails also usually have patches of gravel, though, which can range from pleasant (as with a thin layer of pea-sized, somewhat rounded rocks) to dangerous (fist-sized crushed rock with unworn, sharp edges).

    Roads paved with asphalt are fine, but can be hot. Not only is it black and thermally hot but it doesn't breathe moisture like concrete does and sometimes tar can stick. Pedestrian trails paved with asphalt can be much worse than roads, though; the cheaper pavement material called "chip and seal" can really wear away at my skin. Still, while I avoid miles and miles of the stuff, a few hundred feet now presents no problem.

    With all surfaces, just listen to your feet. I mostly dislike chip-and-seal because on my first encounter with it I decided to push through the discomfort, which was a really bad idea. I knew within two steps that this was a material my feet didn't enjoy, and I should have listened to that. The easiest way to find out whether a surface is nice to run on in bare feet is to do just that: take off your shoes and see what happens.

    Yup, barefoot high is a thing. The opposite is also true: shodfoot dysphoria is also a thing, even if I'm just making up those words.

    I don't know about minimalist attire, but I can see the appeal. I've seen a few barefoot runners in loincloths (in photos), which you could tailor to NC laws. Lots of runners seem to like the very light, short, but slightly loose shorts that maximize ventilation. Another option might be to go with budgie smugglers, but I'd suspect that they could chafe and they might not breathe as well as a running short, but they would expose more skin. I'd probably just search for photos of runners, see what looks most comfortable, then go to a specialty store and see what they feel like in person before buying.

    Also: I recommend checking UV levels beforehand. You probably do this already, but I didn't and was surprised at how UV levels do not always correspond with brightness and hotness. Even if just to protect the tops of your feet which aren't used to be exposed to direct sun -- yup, another lesson I learned the hard way. :)
     
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  5. James Auman

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    thx. I tried some brand new sidewalk outside my office space. It felt very good walking but was uncomfortable running. My heel strike is the issue. Hits so hard. Made me switch to the upper foot only which isn't good form i guess. Ideas and advice?
     
  6. James Auman

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    Thank you. Is there a link to the NC chapter on this site. I may have missed it on my fist look around.

    Anyone know of a group that also champions light running attire (but not necessarily inappropriate ). I'm not ready for a loin cloth just yet.
     
  7. James Auman

    James Auman
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  8. James Auman

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    Thanks for all the great tips and advice. I have many more questions. Should i just keep this thread going or post the questions as new posts? What works best?
     
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  9. trevize1138

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    Welcome!

    Careful to put all the blame on the "heel strike." That's nothing more than a potential symptom of the root issue that's most likely over-striding where you're reaching your feet too far out in front of you. I go into more detail about that here:

    https://www.thebarefootrunners.org/entries/stop-worrying-about-the-heel-strike.1273/

    What I've come to discover after several years of unshod experience is surface hardness and impact are of minor concern to me. In fact, the harder the surface the better. I now find soft surfaces a real slog as all my energy and effort is just sucked away with every step.

    Instead, I've become a lot more wary of the dangers of horizontal braking forces:

    https://www.theglobeandmail.com/lif...ticle-how-running-gait-increases-injury-risk/

    That is specifically why unshod is safer than even the thinnest, most flexible minimalist shoes. A shoe with a snug fit and loads of artificial traction blinds you to all that friction going on between your feet and the ground. Do that unshod and your feet start to get tender pretty quick as you're just scuffing that skin on the ground. So, you're encouraged to step with minimal ground friction. That's not just easier on your skin it leads to significantly more efficient movement. I didn't truly learn how to run marathon+ distances until I figured out how to run long unshod miles on concrete without scuffing up my feet.
     
  10. Jon from PDX

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    The short answer for heel pain: shorter, faster strides.

    My longer answer: running is too complex for any problem to have a simple mechanical solution. If you focus on any aspect of your gait, your body will fixate on that one particular movement, achieve what you want, but throw out lots of good stuff along the way. For example, people can quickly avoid heel-striking, but in doing so they place way more strain than is efficient, if not safe, on the calf. But there is a simple solution, just in the psychological realm rather than the mechanical. I pay attention to what feels good and what feels bad, but I mostly let my body figure out how to maximize the good and minimize the bad. Thinking of cues like “easy, light, and fun” work surprisingly well, along with being patient with myself as I re-learn how to do these basic movements. If your gait doesn’t feel right, walk a few steps, shake your limbs loose — this seems to help clear away the unwanted motor memory — and try again.

    I find the minor 100-Up exercise quite useful. It is just high-knee walking in place, lifting one knee and then the other up to hip level. When doing that 100 times in a row is comfortable, do it at a faster pace. Eventually, you’ll be going fast enough to transition to the “major” variation, which is high-knee running in place. This has a lot of benefits. The relevant one here is that it trains you on the various sensations of how you land, absorb impact, and push off. It taught me what a good foot-strike feels like, and that it isn’t just where on your feet you land but where under your weight you land.

    The key realization for me was that barefoot running and shod running are two different activities. They’re related, sure, but coming to barefoot running as an adult is a lot like learning a second language as an adult. Practice, patience, and persistence will pay off.
     
  11. Jon from PDX

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    I’d say to keep this thread going for as long as it is useful, but if any particular topics of interest seem to get lost you could start a new post on that specific issue. Whatever makes sense to you. Someone will point you in another direction if that seems like it might be more productive, but I don’t think anyone will be troubled if you ask the “wrong” question in the “wrong” place. Questions are good. Learning is good. Even just posting about your ongoing experience is helpful, as we all learn from each other and the more we talk about this stuff the more likely we are to attract and help other folks out there.
     
  12. Barefoot TJ

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    You can find the North Carolina Chapter link under the Chapters link above.
     
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  13. trevize1138

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    Ooh ... love that! Great analogy.
     

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