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Barefoot running for six years: feeling grateful!

January 25, 2016

It’s been six years since my 50-year-old self began the barefoot hiking and trail running journey. (Here’s a blog post celebrating the one-year anniversary milestone.)

From chronically (and I mean my ENTIRE life, from my first after-school track season in fifth grade, through adulthood) injured runner to feeling-better-all-the-time movement proponent . . . it’s been a rocky (pun intended) journey full of ups and downs (enough puns already).

But . . . here I am at 56 able to run farther, with more enjoyment, than ever before.

No, I’m not completely pain-free and unrestricted in my trotting along the trails; my right hip and lower back still are stiffer and sore-er (is that a word?) than I’d like. But . . . I’ve been out on some steep trails for 2-3 hours several times in the last month, feeling my arms and legs and spine and shoulders and elbows and ears and toes all flowing along in a most delightful fashion.

And I’ve signed up for what will be (Lord willing and the creek don’t rise) my first ultra . . . a 50k race through Monument Valley in a couple of months. (In the past, signing up for a “big” race has been my downfall as I overtrain and become injured in my Type A attempt to thoroughly prepare. This time I’m going to err on the side of “undertraining,” knowing I can walk a lot and still, maybe, make the 11 hour cutoff time. And if I don’t? That’s OK too . . . I’ll be wandering through Monument Valley, a culturally significant place I’ve always wanted to visit.)

Here’s a few photos from my longest run so far, just under three hours, earlier this month on the lovely undulating ridgeline trails of Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.



Old Saddleback keeps watch over Orange County .



Nature’s almost-infinity pool? (A puddle with a view of the shining Pacific Ocean.) 


One of my favorite chaparral birds: the always-ready-with-a-song California thrasher in its favorite perch, a laurel sumac.


Why don’t I run these trails more? Only 30 minutes from my inland home (during low traffic hours) are these long views of Laguna Beach and the Dana Point Headlands.


The sandstone hills erode into trails that are practically rock-less: a barefooter’s paradise!


Yes, there were many lovely rain-remnants to gallop through; here I am re-enacting for the camera another “pride goeth before the fall” moment when I thought I’d show off my awesome puddle-running skills and ended up slipping and falling on my bum. The puzzled onlooker’s comment when I asked him to take my photo? “There’s nothing like blackmailing yourself, I guess.”

Here’s hoping and praying for (at least) six more years of barefoot trail fun!




9 Comments leave one →
  1. Caveman Hiking permalink
    July 4, 2017 7:42 am

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog, so I’m very late to the party, but I feel we’re kindred spirits. I started barefoot running about the time you did… 2011… Were we both inspired by Born to Run?

    My motivation was a long battle with shin splints that evaporated after a friend suggested barefoot running (or more accurately minimalist running). I did some true barefoot running, but mostly it was Vibram 5 fingers. Over time I discovered Luna sandals which have been my go-to for years now for running, hiking and backpacking.

    This year I decided to do an experiment… I’m calling it an “Experience Project”… to hike barefoot for 6 months. I figure humans have walked this planet barefoot for 100K+ years, so I wanted to see how I would adapt.

    So far it has been glorious. My feet have toughened up, and the feeling of all the textures makes me feel sorry for everyone wearing shoes / boots. Did I mention mud? My inner child goes nuts when there’s mud. From reading your blog I know you understand about mud.

    I love your writing and your story. I can relate to every episode. See you down the (hopefully muddy) trail!

    • July 4, 2017 2:37 pm

      Thanks for the feedback! It’s not a party until people show up, so you’re not late 🙂

      I’m glad you’re enjoying barefooting; I actually didn’t read Born to Run until about a year in, but I did begin my barefoot journey for a similar reason: a long-term injury (knee for me).

      That’s a great word to describe going shoeless outside: glorious! And mud! Yep 🙂

      I’ve made a couple of fun videos to document how much I LIKE MUD (that’s the title; there’s part one AND a sequel):

      Thanks again for your shared enthusiasm for mud, barefooting, and letting that inner child out to play 🙂

      • Caveman Hiking permalink
        July 4, 2017 3:27 pm

        Love the mud videos… Thanks for pointing me to them!

      • July 6, 2017 1:10 pm

        You’re welcome! Glad you liked them . . . not everyone appreciates this sort of stuff. (And then there’s the slightly odd folks who seem to appreciate it too much 🙂 )

      • Caveman Hiking permalink
        July 9, 2017 8:51 am

        I guess I fall in the slightly odd category 🙂

  2. Gina permalink
    January 26, 2016 10:01 am

    Woot! Congrats!

  3. January 26, 2016 7:30 am

    Be safe on that ultra!

    • January 26, 2016 9:18 am

      Thanks, Terry. Are you buried in snow in DC? I’ve seen some awesome photos! You stay safe too 🙂

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