Top 10 Things in 10 Years of Barefoot Running
I have been running barefoot all my life at one time or the other. Like many of us as children, I enjoyed running barefoot on new mown grass or up and down the gravel alley behind our house. However, it was 10 years ago today, October 21 2003 that I went for my first premeditated barefoot “training” run. I heard about a guy in SOCAL who was successfully running barefoot marathons. This intrigued me as my running form was a bit to be desired. Through the internet, I met Ken Saxton who mentored me in my early days of running barefoot. We met each other for the first time at the Boston Marathon in 2004. The rest is history as we ran several marathons together while I learned all I could from this pioneer of modern barefoot running .
During the last 10 years I have ran thousands of barefoot miles including many barefoot marathons and ultra marathons. Saturday October 19 I ran my 75th marathon and my 57th consecutive barefoot marathon. Through the years, I have learned how my body can run in heat, snow, ice, and just about any type of surface I chose to run.
I am grateful for all I have learned regarding barefoot running. I don’t run fast at 57 years old, but I am still having fun running barefoot. With that said, I have a few thoughts to share regarding some things I have learned along the way. This is my top ten list so take it for what it’s worth:
10. Relax, Relax, Relax – Part of Ken’s mantra that I take to heart whenever I run.
9. Don’t take myself too seriously – When it comes down to it, no one really cares that I run barefoot as much as I do. And, most really don’t care except me. So, with that said, it is really just about having fun.
8. Avoid NSAIDs! – While pain relievers, in my opinion, are okay after a run, I have learned not to take them BEFORE or DURING running. I used to load up on Ibuprofen before and during marathons and long runs. No more. They do exactly what they are supposed to—diminish pain. However, pain is there for a reason and that is to instruct us about our limitations. (My latest marathon this past Saturday on October 19 was much slower than many past marathons because I was NSAID free. However, I also did not injure myself needlessly, either.)
7. Know my limitations! – My racing days appear to be over at 57 years old which is fine with me. It is more about the barefoot journey now. With that said, keeping up with others is not my priority any longer. My objective is just to run the way I believe I was created to run.
6. Give back when I can – Much has been given to me by others like Ken, Ted, Jon, Todd, and others regarding barefoot running. I try to offer my advice when asked and to stay quiet until then. Folks generally aren’t receptive unless they ask the questions.
5. Helping others through notoriety – I have been privileged to appear in the press during the past 10 years and many different venues. I am humbled by this fact and believe I have a responsibility to turn the attention back to my faith and to helping others through various charities.
4. Thankfulness for my continued health - While I have had my share of injuries, none was more debilitating than thinking I was going to have to give up running 10 years ago. I have still had injuries in the past 10 years, but I am still running. Not sure if I could say that if I was still running “goofy” in shoes.
3. Camaraderie of other barefoot runners – There are so many barefoot runners I would have never met without our common passion. The list would be too long to mention here. I am grateful for you all.
2. Proper food and hydration – While this is good for any runner, I have found that diet simply helps me to sustain my passion for barefoot running. I am grateful for tips I have received along the way … especially “hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.” This helps not only our soles, but our body, soul, and spirit to stay healthy.
1. Have faith, have faith, have faith! – This is simply my greatest thing I have learned from barefoot running. I will always know that “inch by inch, it’s a cinch” and if we believe we can do something, we are bound to complete it if we just keep pressing in. Whether w rely on faith in God or believing in ourselves, the former is something I apply to all areas of my life through my barefoot running experiences.
After nearly 22,000 barefoot running miles, dozens of barefoot marathons, a handful of ultra-marathons and numerous other races, I am grateful to God and to others for helping me accomplish these achievements. With God and your help, I hope to run free and barefoot another 10 years and as long as I partake of mortal flesh. However, a day is coming when we will trade mortality for immortality and run tirelessly and barefoot for God and His pleasure. We will be perfected in child-like faith, in full abandoned joy!
Your Barefoot Servant,
Barefoot Rick's Barefootrunner.org