Saturday 17 November 2012

Back to Boots for a day or two

In the past week I have visited a friends farm to help with general farming activities. Not being a fan of welly boots at all due to the painful Achilles heel I get when wearing them, the only other 'suitable' farm footwear was my trusty walking boots. They are a good pair of Meindl leather boots. Pretty expensive when I bought them years ago. Now don't get me wrong, the durability of these boots has been great. I have put them through a whole host of harsh environments in the past, but recently in the past 3 years have sidelined them due to my enthusiasm and dedication to barefoot and bareform movement. But needs-must, and so on they went to tackle the ploughed fields and farm machinery.

Meindl boots
The point I want to make in this short post is about what I experienced when I returned to built-up, stiff-soled and heel-raised footwear. Was it a pleasant experience? Not really. My feet remained dry where minimalist shoes would have most definitely failed. My feet remained warm; not used to this in the current English weather! The problem lay in the way my body responded.

The heel raise caused my old back problem (the reason I tried barefoot movement in the first place) to start to re-surface and my glutes to ache, my toes felt cramped and my achilles tightened. Also, I felt very unstable on the uneven terrain. The sheer weight made me aware a knee problem or lower back pull could be just around the corner. After taking them off at the end of the day my feet ached and my ankles felt weaker. My feet were trying to tell me not to put them back on if I could help it. Free at last from their cramped environment my feet began to relax and stretch out again. On went a pair of VFF Spyridon LS and across the fields I ran to re-discover that liberating and free feeling bareform and barefoot running gives me. With my feet free at last I was again happy to feel the ground beneath me.

This has helped me to realise that although cold and wet feet are not very comfy in freezing UK weather conditions, I still remember why I decided to go 'minimal' with my footwear. No back ache, no knee problems, stable foot positioning and landing even when running across treacherous terrain and a light free feeling instead of heavy footed stomping! I simply love the feeling, and I truly believe it is far better for our whole bodies and even our mind, not just our feet.

Happy running

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