My first barefoot running experience

Its been 10 days of running in my canvas shoes and my plantar pain has not come back.  I’m so happy. But what started as an curious experiment has quickly turned into a strange obsession.

My newest obsession  is barefoot running.  Earlier I was thinking of slowly moving to Vibram Five Fingers and may be then go barefoot. But then I decided… let’s “leapfrog” jump right  intothe real thing.

For the curioss kinds just google Barefoot running and you will know what I’m talking about. Simply.. it is running without wearing any shoes.

For my first barefoot adventure the place was  Jahapahan Forest trail …as always. I particularly wanted to do Jahapanh because I’m familar with the trail and I know for sure that there are not many un- expected junk on the road.

So for the first time since I started running I went to Jahapanah wearing flip flops and not shoes. I was alsocarrying a small  gym bag in which I could carry my Flip Flops when I run barefoot.

I set myself a modest goal. I will run 1 kms barefoot and see what it feels like. If it is too painful or uncomfortable then I will quietly wear my flip flops and walk back home.

I decided to run anti clockwise in Jahapanah because the track is more on a level and relatively an easy run. As I started I was met with a lots of curious eyes…. its amazing how fast people can pick up that something is missing.. All eyes went to my feet. Some  were like ” are you out of your mind”  to that  look on your face when you suddenly encounter dog poo infront of you during your morning walk.

So the first 200 Mts was fun.. seriously . Fun because it was different. After the first 200 mts the track turned a bit rough. And that is when I started feeling burning sensation on my soles which very fast turned into a very stinging pain.  The track was rough for about 400 Mts and then it turned smooth again but by then my feet were feeling a bit bruised and unloved. I completed the first 1 km, took the flip flop out from the bag and wore them. Ahh what a relief..  my feet thanked my flip flops ( and not me)

So, running on Asphalt was tough.. no doubt about it. I was left with severe burning sensation at the end of the first km

But here is a tip. If you read any of the self train barefoot running websites they will tell you that you have to slowly condition your feet to run on any kind of surface. This conditioning takes time and is painful… you might get cuts and bruises  but they will quickly heal and slowly your soles will toughen up and you will be ready to run on any kind of surface.

So I was not willing to give up even though I was in pain . I also wanted to see how it feels like running on a different surface.. for instance mud or gravel track. Now those of you who have been to  Jahapanah Forest will know that it has a few mud trails as well.  And luckily for me one such trails start exactly where my first  Km of barefoot running ended. So that is where I headed….

So again I put my flip flops in the bag and started running and to my surprise it was easy and not the slightest bit un comfortable. To be honest it was much more comfortable than running in  shoes. I did another km easily and then came back on the Asphalt track.

Now I was in 2 minds.. should I walk back in flip flops or  put another km of barefoot runnning under my sole.  It was just too tempting  to run back even though I was aware of the pain that I’m going to put my feet through. In the end that’s what I did. In the first few steps only the burning sensation immediately came back but I didn’t stopped. Worst there were some very fine stones/pebbles that would get stuck in the sole  and would cause one stinging pain when you land next. I had to stop to take these stones off.  Somehow I  did the km and was again left with the stinging sensation all over my sole.

Back in my flip flops I went to this nice grass patch that Jahapanah Forest has and walked barefoot  for a while. It was a welcome relief.I gave a cursory glance to my feet and no doubt they were dirty. I went back home and washedmy feet and guess what … they were as good as new.

So overall a good experience. In total I did 3kms of barefoot running.. 2 kms in Asphalt track and 1 on mud track.  I could have run on grass as well but I guess its not worth it. About 5 hrs after the run I still have some burning sensation on my sole but I guess it is part of the process….

After todays experience I have decided to try Barefoot running seriously. I will be doing atleast 1 day of barefoot running with my regular running schedule.

I have a modest target in mind….. by the end of May 10  try and run the 6.6 Km loop of  Jahapanah barefoot and without pain. I would love to run the next Delhi Half Marathon without shoes… but I know that is a long stretch….


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