Enduring Answers To Rhetorical Questions - You Should NOT Be Running Barefoot!



Question: Should I be running barefoot?
Answer: If you have to ask, probably not.

Reminds me of when a kid is told by his or her mother to eat all of their vegetables. "Do I have to?" can be a common reply. A mother's response would be something like "They are good for you!"

Same with barefoot running.

Some runners might think they are going to "miss" something if they don't try barefoot running. After all, don't some experts say you will strengthen bones and muscles that wouldn't be strengthened by wearing shoes? This will make you a better shod runner, right? Runners who have to ask whether barefoot running is good for them are like when kids are told to eat spinach when they detested it. If you ate it, you did it because you were told it was good for you. Unfortunately, however, your heart might not have been in to it. You had made a mental decision, from the perceptions of others, that it would "do you good".

For me, there was no deliberation whether it was good for me or not after my first few barefoot runs. I was hooked! This was the missing link I had been searching for in my running. I threw myself into it with all the gusto that I could. Take it easy? Are you kidding? I was out trying to run as many miles as I could, getting blisters and cuts and severe stone bruises. I didn't care. I loved what I was doing and it was worth it.

I once did an interview with a local TV station. The news anchor commented to the sportscaster after the segment that it must have been an ordeal to get to the place of being able to run 50 miles a week barefoot and complete several barefoot marathons a year. That was a very honest outsider's appraisal of what I went through. It was an ordeal, and not one I would recommend to most.

Ever hear of the Law of Diminishing Returns? If you haven't heard of it by that name, you have known it in illustration. When you throw a rock in a pool of water, the ripples and waves are most robust closest to the point of impact. As the ripples widen from the impact, they grow smaller and fainter. This is a great illustration of someone who does not thoroughly throw themselves into barefoot running (and believe me, I know, most can't or won't). The affects of barefoot running will only be most gratifying to those who are totally immersed in it. Those on the periphery will only experience minimal gratification and stimulation because they have not given themselves totally to the day to day experience.

Since October '03, I have logged over 4000 barefoot running miles. As of this writing, over 2000 of those miles are in the first nine months of '05. I have not missed a day of barefoot running since the middle of June this year. I say all this to validate my passion for barefoot running. No one can make themselves do what I have done without such passion. I don't believe a person can merely tell themselves that it is "good for themselves" to run barefoot day after day unless they REALLY believe it. Otherwise, running barefoot would go the way of anything else in our lives that does not have the basis of conviction.

I believe there are a few of us (many of the "few" are those who have continued reading) that have this type of conviction and belief in barefoot running. In my humble opinion, I think we will always be a very small minority of the running community, which suits me just fine. I don't believe most normal runners have the "guts" to log hundreds or thousands of miles a year barefoot. By "guts", I mean heart -- a mixture of mind, emotion, and will that makes a sound decision regarding the benefits of barefoot running along with the emotional and spiritual release it brings. I experienced a shadow of this feeling shod -- as a barefoot runner I experience the embodiment of it daily with each run. That is the reason I try, with all my might, to run everyday. I don't want to miss even a day of this incredible gift that's been given to me.

I wrote to you a few weeks ago about "Fake It Til You Make It". This is true, only if you see the goal! If the goal is not in sight ... if you can't imagine yourself as a barefoot runner 5, 10, 15 years down the road, then it probably won't work no matter how long you fake it. I can't even imagine myself as a shod runner any longer. The thought seems foreign -- like that was another person in another lifetime. No, I can't imagine myself as a "backsliding shodder". I would feel like an infidel, a blasphemer, one who had slid back into the perdition of the shod! Makes me shudder just thinking about it!

Am I a fanatic barefootrunner? Am I a zealot for the Zen I receive from barefoot running? Yep! These are more rhetorical questions with obvious answers because it is notable in my behavior. People, such as myself, who were ravenous for the radical idea of barefoot running when it was introduced will not need to be coaxed and prodded. They will show up at our doorsteps and require very little motivation. All they really need from us is the permission to try it! The "permission slip" is not a list of "10 Reasons Why You Should Be A Barefoot Runner", or a carefully laid out disertation on barefoot running benefits. It is a specific desire that meets a particular need in a specific person. Once this person fulfills this desire with the found need (barefoot running) the question will truly be rhetorical, "Should I be running barefoot?" The answer will be all so obvious.

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