Barefoot running (nothing to do with pearls).
Posted: Jul 14 2011
Photo: Jasmine HUMBERT
When we moved to America from Tahiti last summer we packed up our house, put most of it in a container then flew off with just a few bags. The most amazing part of the experience was living the three months with only a few items of clothing and some random things that didn't make it into the packing boxes. When the container finally showed up, I half wanted to make a big bonfire and start this new adventure in our lives with less STUFF. I've always prided myself on living outside of the habits of modern consumer society but here was a mountain of things that we didn't need. An undeniable litmus strip of truth in the form of 57 boxes.
Back up three months from then and we had freshly arrived. The departure from Tahiti had been a nightmare for me for many different reasons then just days before leaving, a dear friend who had been one of the pillars of the pearl farm in it's early years, passed away in the prime of his life.
At an hour and half's distance from the ocean, I knew that my outlet and source of comfort that I had relied on for the last couple of decades was out of reach. Sure I'd be able to get away to the coast every now and then but my daily fix would have to be closer. In high school I was crazy into running cross-country so the choice was obvious that I would rekindle a love for running that had been sleeping for many years.
My running shoes however were boxed up in a container, cooking on a dock somewhere in the tropics. Of course I couldn't go out and buy new ones so I just went to the trails anyway and discovered the magic of running without shoes on. I had run without shoes a few times back in high school but more as a lark than anything else. The Nike waffle tread was all the rage and our cross-country team even built a ten foot long shoe every year affectionately named The Great Nike that (legend had it) would alight on the roof of the school gym the Friday before Halloween.
To my surprise running didn't make my body sore any more the way I remembered it. Not long after starting I Googled barefoot running and my jaw dropped on seeing that there were weirdos all over the world (but mostly in America) that were running un-shod and loving it like I was.
A Youtube frenzy followed and I learned how researchers have shown through treadmill impact tests that running with padding on your feet makes you come down dramatically harder on them than having no shoes at all. Other videos showed slow motion images of how the arch of the foot is SUPPOSED to collapse with every foot strike. In the running culture I used to be a part of in the late 80's this stuff would have gotten you hanged by your shoe laces. The more I learned about how good it was to run without shoes the more it excited me.
How many other things do we take for granted as necessary that we could live very well without?