For a few days now I have been training barefoot every single day. The experience for me has been all about experimentation. Different surfaces. Different conditions. Different times of day. I’ve been on an indoor track, on a treadmill, on grass, on concrete, even on mud (by far the best surface).
This morning I went out while it was still dark and ran through my neighbourhood. I felt cold at first, but I was surprised and how quickly I warmed up. The biggest difference that strikes me about barefoot running is a very strong mental connection to the physical act of running. It grounds you. Forces you to be in the moment. Your mind doesn’t wander and you don’t miss a single thing along the way.
When I run barefoot, it feels like all my instincts are coming alive. Almost as if I suddenly have an extra sense. In an instant I’m sharply aware of every crack in the pavement, every pebble on the ground, every animal that senses me. I know all this before my feet hit those spots, and I’m not even sure I can explain how.
It was still dark when I went out this morning so I felt that my mind was extra sharp. Scanning everything. I noticed things that I had never seen before in my own backyard in broad daylight.
I could almost hear the neural connections in my brain firing off as I ran over different textures and surfaces. Grass. Concrete. Puddles. Leaves. Mud. It was as if my brain were experiencing the world for the first time. Like it were just now learning the difference between road pavement and sidewalk pavement. Understanding cold and hot. Hard and soft. Smooth and rough.
I felt a strange sense of being simultaneous aware of the minute details along the road as well as the big picture all around me. I knew instinctively where the moon was positioned at any given moment, even though I didn’t always see it and I made several turns. That’s not something I’ve ever paid attention to. But today it seemed relevant.
I could hear which trees would rustle which leaves. I would know whether the movements around me were caused by the wind or an animal. When I got home, I looked in the mirror and was immediately taken aback by how sharp and bright and fully dilated my pupils were.
I don’t think there has ever been another run in my life where I have been more mentally present. Nor have I ever felt more like a wild animal.