Why do people do what they do? Examining an individual's motivations can be a very revealing exercise into his or her character and, if you are open-minded, often leads to learning something new about his or her practices (however bizarre they might be). Since I have laid out my reasons for recording my barefoot odyssey in this blog, I figured it would be a good idea to explain why I run barefoot. The list of reasons that follows is in no particular order:
1) It allows me to run comfortably without pain. I will go more in-depth on this topic at a later time, but the Cliffs Notes version: I had back problems after my time in the Army. The jarring and pounding of running in padded shoes and striking the ground with my heel every step was unbearable on my lower back, so I gave up. Running barefoot taught me to land softly by absorbing those downward forces with my knees and lower legs instead of the back of my heels. I could run again, which was a good thing because I was putting on weight. This was the primary reason for me in trying barefoot running, but it is not the main reason that I continue to this day.
2) It is healthy. Mounting evidence from numerous legitimate university studies is increasingly showing the benefits of running barefoot. The absorption of impact due to our increased ability to feel the ground and adjust intuitively with the foot and lower leg (referred to as "proprioception" which basically mean's "one's own perception") makes barefoot an excellent option for runners who have frequent issues with injury resulting from the impact of heel striking forces. It has helped my posture, corrected major inefficiencies in my running form, and awoken all the unused muscles and tendons in my previously shod feet. I have better balance and agility. The list goes on...
3) I find it really interesting. Barefoot running has a definite novelty factor that adds a certain intrigue to running for me. In my fitness pursuits, running without shoes was definitely uncharted territory, and the continued mystery of just how far I can take this keeps my attention. If I get bored with something, it usually means I won't keep it up very long. So far, there is always something new to learn and discover about going barefoot on my runs.
4) It is fun! There is no footwear that can replicate the completely free feeling you get from going barefoot. If I didn't enjoy it, I would find another way to stay fit.
In future installments, I will talk about my major running influences and helpful links that keeps me informed about my favorite hobby. Stay tuned!