About a month and a half ago I ran my first fully barefoot run, and it was clear from the comments I received on that post that I had picked a horrible set of conditions in which to do so. It was cold, wet, and dark, and there was pretty much nothing about the experience that I enjoyed other than the fact that I could say that I did it. I pledged that I would give it another try, so tonight I finished off my run with 1.5 miles fully barefoot. This was a mile longer than I ran last time, but aside from my skin not being used to the abrasion, my feet and legs were more than up for the distance (I’ve been running in Vibram Fivefingers regularly since last summer).
My thoughts this time around were much more positive, though I still would say that barefoot running is not for me. Tonight was dry and warm, so that in and of itself was a major improvement. The sensation of running barefoot was for the most part enjoyable this time around, though I still had issues with hitting small pebbles that would send shooting pain through my foot. Also, I discovered that some forms of asphalt have a rougher texture that really chews away at your skin – if I could be guaranteed a nice, pre-swept stretch of smooth asphalt every time I ran barefoot, I might consider doing it more often, but those pesky pebbles are a major deterrent for me. In addition to the asphalt sidewalk, I also ran on grass for a small stretch, and that felt really good – I could easily see myself doing barefoot strides on grass more frequently.
Perhaps my biggest reason for not seeing myself as a barefooter gets back to a point I made in my post following my first barefoot run – I just don’t see the training benefit beyond just running pain-free in my Vibrams. I get the tactile feedback argument, and how it helps with the development of proper form, but when tactile feedback includes shooting pebble pain that can be avoided by wearing Vibrams, that’s where the argument loses its appeal for me. I can totally understand the reasons why people run barefoot regularly, and I’m glad that I gave it another try, but I don’t think it’s going to be a regular part of my running routine. I’m still a committed minimalist runner, and I’ll continue to post about barefoot running, but I’ll likely leave the actual barefooting to those dedicated runners who are willing to put up with a bit of pain while they build thicker skin on the soles of their feet.