The bare foot is the best running coach money can't buy.

Please visit me at my new site...

This site now has a permanent URL at You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds, or go ahead and click here to go there now.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tough feet need rough surfaces

I'm not a big believer in balance. I'm not against it, I just don't think balance exists in nature as much as we think it does. We're a pattern-seeking animal, after all; it's easy to change our perception of reality to fit our conclusions.

If this were a balanced universe we live in, my feet wouldn't get tough until I mastered barefoot running form. This has not been the case - my soles are very comfortable on abrasive surfaces. This isn't necessarily a good thing. While I can handle distances over mildly technical terrain, I can also cheat my form. I don't pay immediately for slouching my posture or slapping my feet.

In other words, my feet have developed faster than my technique. Not to a degree worthy of concern, but something to pay attention to. After a few months of successful barefooting, you can't assume just because the feet don't hurt you've mastered the technique. If anything, you have to pay even more attention. Much like you have to pay more attention in cold, wet weather when the feet are numb for the first mile or so.

I say this to explain a reaction I had yesterday as I was showing off my hill to a running buddy yesterday. We were driving, and as we made the turn on to Cedar Mountain Rd there was a Road Construction sign. Sure enough, they were repaving a section of "my" road. Nice, smooth, brand new asphalt near the top. I suppose it needs it; the road is old and pitted and very abrasive. Perfect for learning how to run barefoot. A bare foot is not allowed to slip or twist or slap or stomp without pain, regardless of how tough it is. If they repave the whole hill, I'm going to have to rely on mental discipline to avoid blisters and maintain form. Mental discipline is not my strong suit.

So what was my reaction to seeing my hill becoming more comfortable? Dismay. Not because I'm a tough guy, but because I'd rather not rely on my thinking brain for anything. It's let me down too many times.

Oh well. Turn Turn Turn, as the Byrds say.


  1. Maybe it's time to find a new hill? ;)

  2. Josh,

    Great post. Hope you don't mind I copied this to for you:

  3. Thanks Ken Bob!

    Sarah - not a chance. The scenery is beautiful.