Barefoot (Running) In The Park

Have you ever started doing something new and many people around you think it’s a bit on the strange side?

Maybe you’re excited because it feels exhilarating and freeing.

But at the same time you’re embarrassed when others stare or titter knowingly about the odd one out.

The best way I’ve found so far of dealing with this is just to take things one step at a time. Whether it’s changing careers, countries or life styles, some (perhaps a lot of) resistance is to be expected.

But by focusing on just taking baby steps as best you can, the odds of making progress start to improve.

I was reminded of this today when I went into my local park for a run. Haven’t been out for nearly three weeks due to minor injuries and a chest cold.

Plus it was cold and windy (though sunny), so I was feeling a little nervous about the outcome. Truth be told I was also planning to take my first barefoot run of 2010.

A barefooted foreigner in just shorts and tee-shirt (but with gloves and a headband), I must’ve stood out like the proverbial nail asking to be hammered down.

Once I got underway there was the wind and the cold to contend with. I was enjoying the run so much and the strangeness of soles-on-mud that I mostly forgot about what others were doing.

And you know what, they probably felt the same.

Hey, it’s a crazy gaijin running with no shoes on. Whatever.

Life is full of metaphor and meaning when the time is right and the senses attuned.

Today was one of those occasions.

PS Although there’s somewhat of a minor boom, at least via the blogosphere, in the various joys of barefoot running, take care. Fads come and fads go. Whether this is one remains to be seen.

For now, I only run barefoot on softer grass and cover less than 50% of my shoe-shod distance. We’ve also been going barefoot indoors since moving to Japan over fifteen years ago. I believe this is in keeping with the small steps theme of the post. Build up slowly and have fun.