I’ve been running barefoot or with Vibram Five Fingers for going on three years. About three weeks ago I started running with my son in a BOB baby jogger. When I’ve got my Hobbit feet on the rubber soles lessen the impact of rocks, glass, sticks, and other debris that I step on. When I don’t, I can literally feel every single bump in the road. And, when I run with a stroller in front of me, my gait can sometimes be a little off.
Both shoe-free running and running with my son have been quite enjoyable. And both would play a part in the outcome of my latest run.
As the story goes, I went on a run with my son around 630PM which is a little later than usual. Normally I’d run at 530PM, and the little fella would sleep the entire run. On this day my son was wide awake and a little anxious. Well, we hit the trail and the first four and a half miles went by like they normally do. El bebe stared at the trees and grass and animals, and I chugged along around 8:50 pace.
Around the 4.5 mile mark my son let out a blood curdling scream. ZOMG? I whipped around to the front of the BOB and checked him out. No blood. No poop. No pee. A minute went by and he stopped screaming. Phew, all clear. Not but 10 steps down the trail he starts up again. I stop. Take him out of the BOB and walk around. He smiles. I get him to laugh. But he started up again. Frak! Well, at this point I had two options: 1) walk with him crying in my arms or 2) sprint back to the car and get him home. I chose the latter.
Knowing that I’ve got an unhappy baby and a good 2 miles to get back to the car I decide to up my pace. 8:50…8:30…8:00…7:30…7:15…7:00. By the time I leveled off I was running almost 2 min per mile faster than I normally would. On top of that my kid is crying, and I’m doing what I can to breathe and sing and shush him to consolation. My methods worked for a bit (I’m guessing so he could catch his breath) but they were only effective for a short time. I stopped a couple times, picked him up, but he continued to cry. That’s when things got worse.
With 1.5 miles to go, and no longer paying attention to the trail, my heel connected with a huge rock. A quick aside, when running barefoot there is nothing more painful then stepping on a rock with your heel. Nothing. Seriously. I’m 190. When my feet hit the ground they do so at three times my body weight. That’s 570 pounds of force coming down a rock. And every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Pain shot through my foot and up my leg. Sweet mother of pearl!
To compensate for my bruised heel I started running solely on my toes (no heel strike at all). The increased speed combined with running solely on my toes put a great deal of stress on my calf. When I finally made it back to the car my feet were shredded (and stained by fallen wild berries), and my calf was pretty well strained. As for my son, he slammed down seven ounces of formula and resumed crying for the duration of the 10-minute car ride home. Awesome sauce.
So what did my feet look like afterwards? See for yourself.
Make no mistake, running barefoot is awesome. On occasion the above happens (especially when I take too much time off between runs then try to run too fast on a path littered with berries while pushing a baby jogger without keeping an eye out for debris). Will it deter me from continuing to pursue a shoe-less running style? Negative.
Normally my feet are just dirty after I run. Heck, I’ve run 15 miles without so much as a scratch on the bottom of my feet. Should my one bad experience deter you? Heck no. Just know that barefoot running can, on occasion, cause your feet to look like mine did. For now, I’m taking a couple days off then I’m back on the trail with my son.
BTW, if you’d like to see how my barefoot running looks outside of this incident check out my Barefoot Chronicles.
Do you run barefoot and have a story to tell? Are you thinking of trying out barefoot running? Do you think my feet are more repugnant than a smoker’s lungs? Chime in below or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.