Friday, August 7, 2009

Barefoot Running Update

I'm still running barefoot, but I can only comfortably manage two runs a week without shoes: one 2.5 and one 5k. My callouses are thick but they don't seem to be getting any thicker. It's like I wear them down as fast as they grow which does seem to make sense given the rough asphalt on the Centennial Trail from Riverfront Park to Mission Park.

However, I have a theory. I think that since I wear shoes during the day--you know, one of those silly work requirements--the heat and moisture trapped there keeps the callouses soft so that when I run at lunchtime the softer tissue wears away faster than normal.

Yep, I thunk that up all my myself. That's genius with a hard "g".

So I'm putting my theory to the test. Come Monday I am gone for three weeks. I have a conference in Arizona next week, a conference in Washington, D.C., the next, and then a backpacking trip the third week. For the next two weeks I can get away with wearing sandals. That will allow me to keep my soles drier and presumably tougher. I'll let you know how that works for me. During the backpacking trip the terrain will determine whether I'm barefoot, wearing sandals or wearing boots. I'll play that by ear. My brother, John, already told me that he's not carrying my sorry ass if I hurt myself by doing something stupid like walking barefoot in the mountains. Brotherly love in response to brotherly insanity.

See that dark line on my right big toe? That's a splinter from one of the wooden bridges in Riverfront Park. I also had one in the ball of my foot but it finally worked its way out. I was going to dig them out but stopped. They didn't hurt and digging into the thick skin would just expose tender skin. So I left them to come out on their own with time. It's been an interesting summer.


Shan said...

I agree with your theory based on the fact that we don't wear shoes at home. We did when we rented an apartment with early 80's dark brown shag carpet (who knows what lurked in that stuff!). In March we bought a house with light beige carpeting and shoes became verboten. Add to that I'm off much of the summer, and therefore frequently barefooted. I find the soles of my feet are similar in toughness to my childhood years. Now, if only that field we adored weren't covered over with an apartment building...

Pat S said...

I have a feeling you're going to do something dumb on your backpacking trip. I hope I'm wrong. Please, for your own sake. It's okay to be normal.

Hank Greer said...

Thank you, Shan. I knew I was on to something.

Pat, I may be crazy, but I'm not stupid. Okay, maybe stabbing myself with a box cutter was stupid, but I'm not going to doing anything really stupid. At least not on purpose. :-)

Besides, normal is so boring. I want to stand out and be different. I want to be unique--just like everybody else.

Wait, did I say that right?

Lucas said...

I have an old guitar player tip for you on callouses: a little witch hazel will toughen them up. At the beginning of a tour Eric Clapton soaks his fingertips in witch hazel a few minutes each night until they get sufficiently tough enough. True story.

Spokane Al said...

I raced the CDA Scenic Challenge Triathlon this morning and passed one of your barefoot brothers on the run.

As I passed I asked him if he was born to run, but got no response.

He did seem to be moving along pretty rapidly.

Thinnmann said...

I disagree. It probably isn't the work shoes causing the lack of callus issue. I suggest you closely check your running form. You should not be pushing off hard or twisting. Make sure you are lifting your feet. Maybe slow down a little and go farther in each workout. Maybe find some grass and add a third run per week on the grass. Remember, there should not be friction at the bottom of your feet.

Hank Greer said...

Good point, Thinnmann. Thank you.