Rate: Barefoot Running

I'm pretty skeptical of this fad. I had no intentions of trying it. But then, something happened.

One of my good friends decided the best way to spend her 40th birthday is to fly to France for two weeks, alone, for an introspective and wild adventure. I am so jealous... however I've still got a ways until 40 :) This friend and I have spent many an afternoon walking our two pups through the moderately charming streets of Tempe. Her dog is a rescue, used to be a wild pack dog, and therefore is extremely skittish. However, I've known the dog for a while and she likes me and my pup. It was only natural then, when my friend politely asked if I would watch her dog, Sarah, while she is away, that I agreed. It also didn't hurt that she offered me $20 a day, and money is something I desperately need. So all is well, right?

Wrong. The dog has been terrified and shaking from the second she was dropped off. She won't sit down and continues to pace my house for hours at a time. I tried treats, walks, pets-- everything. But she wouldn't even let me near her. And then something terrifying happened: I opened my front door slightly to get something out of my car, and Sarah pushed the door wide open with her nose, and bolted-- at a full sprint. I grabbed a leash and immediately sprinted after her. There was no time to put on shoes. 

Well to sum it up quickly, although there were a few breaks when Sarah slowed down to consider the treats I was waving at her, I ended up sprinting through my neighborhood sidewalks, barefoot, in my jeans, screaming for all the neighbors to see all while dodging piles of glass. Sarah, luckily, just ran home. I finally caught her as she was waiting at her owner's backyard fence, about a mile from my home. Brilliant. Once I had her captive I started bawling. Why? because I was stressed, exhausted, feeling emotional and so completely relieved that I didn't lose my friend's dog.
The point of all this, is that I did barefoot sprints... even though I wasn't intending too. 

When I woke up the next day, I was in an incredibly sore state. I could barely walk. My ankles-- ankles of all things!-- were throbbing. My calves were so excruciatingly tight. And now I get it. Minimalism running builds muscle. It builds muscles that I do not usually use when I am wearing shoes. And apparently, those muscles are going to take forever to loosen up again.
Even with that said, I don't intend on incorporating barefoot running into my training any time soon. If for no other reason, because it may give me horrifying flashbacks.


  1. This is a fabulous anecdote and very well written. Visualizing you dodging glass and neighbors staring made me smile. Does the dog trust you yet? And what breed is it?

  2. I've been getting more and more intrigued with barefoot running with every article and video I see about it. If I do give it a shot, hopefully it will be in a non-crisis situation. Glad to hear your dog recovery turned out well.

  3. You are 100% correct, it build muscle. I've been doing no more than 3-5 miles a week in Vibram 5 Fingers. The soles of my feet hurt like crazy the next day but I my ankles and calves are really starting to enjoy it.

  4. Oh damn. I am said "40 year old in France". Sorry man! By now you hopefully have gotten emails with the pet sitters name & number and will soon be rid of the escape artist. However, that being said, as a fellow runner I think this is terrific information on barefoot running. Despite the inherent drawbacks think of the concentration; as you detour the glass and other road hazzards! You might forget the searing pain were it not for the AZ heat however. At least Sara got you to try something new! Funny yet? Perhaps too soon. sorry...

  5. Same thing happened to Cameron and I. Cam was the runner, I was the driver, and instead of bare feet, we had pouring down rain. That made for quite the interesting night...

    ...Thank goodness someone brought the dog to the police station and gave him to our friend (the police officer) who was helping us look for this dog!

    I'm sorry you had to go through this!

  6. Running barefoot beats the crap out my calves. I do enjoy the weird stares though...haha. One thing I think you should consider is that running barefoot will show you how to run with better form. You don't have to run barefoot to run correctly, but running barefoot will force to you to run will a gait that is less prone to injury. Or so they say...

  7. ha ha adventures in dog-sitting! at least you got in a little sprint workout!

  8. Thanks for the tips on barefoot running. I'm really contemplating trying it out as part of my training. But do you wear those weird toe shoes? Where is it safe to run barefoot? It seems kind of dangerous! If I'm going to try this out for real, I definitely need to do more research and get some advice!

    Amy- I'm sorry about your dog! She's all better now staying at a nice, cozy Doggie hotel :)


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