Yesterday was Barefoot Ricks first barefoot running clinic here in Kansas City. I was so excited when I heard he was doing this. I mean what perfect timing for me since I have just taken the leap to barefootedness.
I arrived at the park where the clinic was taking place and as I drove around I started to look around at all the people and check out their feet. I would pass by groups of people and think; no they have shoes not where I want to be. Then I spotted a few people with sandals and VFF’s and I knew this was the group so I parked and got out of the car. Rick had not arrived yet and more people kept showing up (I guess they all knew us from our now bare feet). We all started to chat and discuss barefoot running. There were a couple of people there that have been barefoot runners for some time now and so us newbie’s started to bombard them with all our questions.
When Rick arrived we moved to a sheltered picnic area to try and stay a little dry. Rick first had us go around and introduce ourselves and give a little running background. In this group there were runners who have been running there entire lives and then runners who have been running for only about a year. Running is the kind of sport where no matter how long you have been doing it; you are part of the running family as soon as you start. As we were talking and telling our stories more people were still showing up. One of the people that showed up was Barefoot Josh. Josh is not only a barefoot runner but a tail nerd also (this is the local trail running group I am always popping in on for their beginner runs and then totally get left in the dust, hey I am slow and even slower on the trails). Josh has been running barefoot on the trails, something I thought was not possible. Josh said he was planning on run two trail races this year barefoot but that he was not going to race them. Trying to race on the trails barefoot would surly leave you with a broken toe or worse. This is why they need a barefoot running division in races now.
After all the introductions Rick and a couple more experienced barefoot runners and they showed us proper form during a short run. I will attempt to describe the proper form here for you. Start by standing with your feet flat on the group underneath your body, and then bend your knees slightly. Now slowly let your body fall forward while moving your feet forward. You want to push your legs using your buttocks. When landing on your feet you want to have a center foot strike. (I thought it should be a ball strike but I was wrong). This helps to absorb the impact when your foot hits the ground.
Now if you are doing it correctly there are a few things that should happen. First you will notice that you are not bouncing up and down like you do when running in shoes. You will also notice that you really feel it in your calves. And you should notice that you are not making much noise.
Once we all learned proper form we had more questions then we went on a group barefoot run. We stared with a half mile loop then we went off into the woods on a muddy trail. I have to say that running in the mud was my favorite. It was so cool to feel it squish in between my toes. Also since I am still new to this my feet start to hurt after a while running and the mud soothed them and made them feel fresh, until I got back on the pavement that is. I ended up running about 2.5 miles before I had to stop. My feet are just not ready for a longer distance yet. I had such a great time and met some awesome people I truly cannot wait to do this again. Rick said that he was going to try and do this once a month till the bad winter weather arrives and I can’t wait till the next one.
Note: All the pictures above were taken by Barefoot Rick, I forgot my camera so I hope it was okay to use these.