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Running Without Shoes: If the Shoe Fits, Take It Off for a Change!

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It was a dark and not-so-stormy night. In fact, it was down-right pleasant. The sun had just rested its weary head beneath the horizon, and the stillness of the early night air blanketed the neighborhood as I walked the half mile from our home up to the middle school to pick up my son who was at an all-school party.

On the way home, I kicked off my shoes and my son asked me, “What are you doing?” When I told him I was going to experience what it was like to run barefooted, he looked at me as if I had lost my mind. “But you wince at everything when you walk around with no shoes on!” he reminded me.

Nevertheless, I forged ahead. I admit, I did this at night so no one would see me. I guess I was a bit embarrassed to be running without shoes on. I mean, in my neighborhood, that might suggest you are running from someone or something. It would probably make some folks shudder if they saw you without proper foot attire! The only time people go without shoes in my area is when they are up at the pool. Sure, I have seen the occasional runner out and about the metro area running barefooted, and in local races, but it truly is not the norm in my general area.

So, about 50 paces into my run, I had muttered the word “ouch” roughly 20 times. I never knew there were so many little pebbles and specks of dirt on the ground! Yes, I am the consummate tenderfoot! My son kept the pace with me, still thinking I was nuts. “It feels like we are doing something wrong,” he said.

I continued to run. For the next several paces, it was smooth sailing, until I took a sharp left onto another sidewalk and immediately stepped on a large boulder. Okay, it was a small pebble, but it felt like a boulder! “Ouch!” I yelped. “How do people do this barefoot running thing?”

It did feel like a new-found freedom, running without shoes. I felt like a child on a warm summer’s day, running wild and with utter abandon. I could see where this would be fun. It felt bold. It felt daring. It felt…CRAP! What was that? A small stick and a dead worm.

Once the sidewalk ended, I was forced to get onto the street.

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