Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Tax on Barefoot Running

Don't run barefoot. Seriously, don't do it. Too many bad things can happen and life is already full of enough fear and uncertainty. Don't believe me? Just turn on some cable news.

Take today for instance. I ran barefoot for 4.15 miles in celebration of US tax day (another brilliant 12athon idea!). Everything started so nicely, with sunny weather and happy feet.

I headed out my private local greenway, which is looking quite lovely this Spring.

But within a mile, I had already experienced a smirk-assault by a passing biker. I tend to wave and smile at everyone when I run, mostly because I try to enjoy every moment of my runs, but also because I'm just a friendly Southerner. Well, biker guy thought some barefoot doofus running on his greenway was just out of line. "Nice shoes..." he smirked as we passed. Good one. Haven't heard that one before. You're so clever.

But it takes more than some asshat on a bike to steal my running mojo. Especially my barefoot running mojo. I've been running barefoot miles for a couple of years now, and I think I've heard just about every sort of comment there is. "You forgot your shoes!" "Someone steal your shoes?" "What's wrong with you?!" Sigh. Such abuse.

Struggling to lug along my now bruised ego, I wasn't paying very close attention to the greenway. Barefoot running is dangerous enough without being mindful of your surroundings. I paid the price by nearly losing a toe to a snapping turtle!

None Shall Pass!!!

Sharp pointy rocks scare you? Pfffttt! Try losing a toe to a snapper! Luckily, the turtle wasn't interested in my sausage toes and only wanted to soak up some warm Spring sunshine. I delicately skirted the edge of the trail, and those lethal vise-like jaws, and continued my run.

My fear of smirky turtles slowly receded over the next couple of miles and I melted back into the smooth groove of barefoot running. Floating along, enjoying the soft sounds of my own footsteps, the cool Spring breeze, and the birdsong echoing through the trees, I nearly crushed the tiny baby turtle struggling to cross the greenway.

Of course, I helped it across. Nothing to fear here. Nothing to lose.

And that's when it hit me. Barefoot running is totally worth it! The fears are overblown and mostly unjustified. The reward far outweighs the price of pride, or the painful cost of attacks on barefoot running. You have nothing to lose.