Sole Running Tales from the Trails: A Personal Perspective

A Barefoot Runner’s Story: Part One

First of all, let me thank everybody for giving me the opportunity to share a little bit of myself with you, this group has found a special place in my heart and for that I am truly grateful. Everybody has a story to tell and I am sure mine is similar to some of yours, everybody has to start somewhere and I was no different. Some of you may know a bit of my story but hopefully this will give you a little bit more of an insight into how I turned into the runner that I am today.

Let the story begin……….

Running BarefootA couple of years ago, if somebody would have told me I was going to be an avid runner, let alone a barefoot runner who runs ultra-marathons, I would have laughed uncontrollably. I was a 37 year old father of two, who was content to sit on the couch, watch TV and my life pass right on by. I had a fairly stressful job that I really did not like, chronic knee problems (including 6 procedures and one yet to be performed) which prevented me from taking part in the majority of high impact sports which at the time I included running to be part of.

At the same time my wife Nicole, was getting more and more into running, she had just finished a couple of half marathons and was going out and finding different running groups to try. I could not figure out what was the fascination with running, why would anyone want to go out and pound the pavement for enjoyment? To me it just didn’t look like fun, I just didn’t understand it. Then I had my very first Eureka moment, Nicole found this group of runners that she figured would interest me. They were the local chapter of the Hash House Harriers or the WH3 for short. A group of runners out for fun, and best of all, everything revolves around beer (one of my favorite pastimes). This of course, peeked my interest and after a whole lot of encouraging I went out to one of the runs which also was to celebrate a very close friend’s birthday. Wearing a 12 year old pair of traditional running shoes that looked like they had been through a war or two I ran. My first run, which was more of a stumbling’ bumbling, whining and cursing fest with a whole lot of walking, I did manage to complete the almost 5 km but it took me over an hour to finish it. Needless to say other than the serious pain in my knees, I enjoyed the experience; they had me hook, line and sinker. I could not run far and walking would be my main mode of travel for weeks but that was soon to change in a much unexpected way.

My wife and her running partner picked up this little book called ‘Born to Run’ and like many others it inspired them to start looking at minimalistic and barefoot running a little more closely. They started researching and experimenting with various minimal types of footwear, and started a blog called the Winnipeg Barefoot Runners to document their transition. At this time, I was really starting to enjoy this running thing but going anymore than a mile would put me into some serious pain; the saving grace was the beer at the end. Sick of my grumbling, my wife went out and bought me a pair of $10 water shoes and threw ‘THE BOOK’ at me and told me to read it. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I put the shoes on and went out for a short run (let me add this was at ten o’clock at night because I did not want to be seen), determined to prove my wife was off her rocker. After travelling my usually painful mile and realized my knees didn’t hurt, I was confused. It just didn’t make sense, less cushioning in the shoe meant less pain? The logical part of my brain could not compute this but my fun-loving side just started thinking of the possibilities, could this be for real or just an anomaly. I ran 3 miles that night, pain-free.
With this I started researching; I hit the internet and started reading about others that had travelled this path before me. I found a website called The Barefoot Runners Society (BRS) which was a gathering place forum for barefoot and minimalistic runners to share and discuss their experiences. I could not believe the amount of people that were having the same types of experiences that I was. This was the perfect medium for me to learn from the experiences of others, share, discuss and help solve issues and concerns that I was having. Being from Winnipeg, Canada it was not like I could go up to just any runner and get the help and support I needed, everybody just thought I was crazy. Yes, Crazy Like A Fox.

As I researched further, the concept of barefoot running intrigued me more and more. Everybody I talked to on the BRS expressed the enjoyment and the sense of freedom of baring your soles to the ground. I struggled with the thought of removing the shoes, I did not want people to judge, laugh or start to call me the crazy guy with no shoes. I was the guy that did not want to cause waves, I would sit in the corner and not talk to people, just observe. In person, I never talked to people I did not know and those that I did know would have to drag things out of me, I was the classic introvert (I know what you are thinking, how could that be?). Well, it was true and yes that will change in a big way too.

To Be Continued………………………………..

Barefoot Bob
Bob is a barefoot runner from Canada who has been lucky enough to discover the passion of running. From running 5 km around his neighborhood with his faithful husky Hazel to running 100 mile Ultra-marathons over nasty terrain, Bob runs with a smile and an encouraging spirit. You can also follow his ramblings at Canadian Running Magazine Online (http://runningmagazine.ca/blogs/bare-my-soles/ ) and his personal blog, http://winnipegbarefootrunners.blogspot.ca/.
Run Strong, Run Hard, Run Happy and Run Free……………….

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