I got a dirty message on Facebook.

I’ve actually gotten three of them in two days. All from people I don’t know with some sort of foot fetish, going on about how sexy my feet are and what they would like to do to them. I deleted/blocked/reported them of course, as appropriate. But it did get me thinking.

I don’t have a foot obsession, but I do love being barefoot. And I do think there is a sensual aspect to the act of running barefoot. It’s too taboo to write articles about, so we stick to all the practical injury-free arguments. But running barefoot IS sexy. It looks and feels like a stimulation of all the senses.

Besides the fact that the nerve endings on our feet are identical to the ones we find on our genitals, there’s something intrinsically attractive about the human body running in nature. Sensual combinations that are hard to ignore.

Like sensitive toes standing on a bed of dried pine needles. Soft flesh pressed up against the rough bark of an old tree. The contrast of clear olive skin against the bright red of the leaves and rich browns of the dirt. Warm fingers digging into cool, fresh soil. Flushed cheeks from both the crisp cold air and the sweaty exertion of running. Just the right amount of dirty.

Running barefoot can clarify relationships. Teach us the most important qualities in any partner. Not a scholar. Not a millionaire. But someone that can move gracefully and efficiently in their natural state. Someone who can see a destination, know all the routes towards it, and pick the most scenic one. Someone who is not afraid of planting their feet on the ground or taking some pain. Just the right amount of wild.

There is something to be said about barefoot pain in the right amounts. How can we know pleasure without pain? Pain encourages treading softly and stepping gently. Then when you step on a pebble or your calf pulls a little or you feel your hair brushed roughly by a branch as you whiz past, it sort of feels like a rough kiss. An unexpected nibble on your lower lip. A pull followed by a small surge of anger, infusing a mild sense of aggression into each following movement. A perfect blend of pleasure and pain.

Barefoot running gets your blood rushing. I love running out of my house in a t-shirt and no shoes while everyone else is bundled up tightly under mountains of layers and hoods and scarves. I love feeling warm in sub-zero temperatures. Smiling when I realize that my heart can beat that much more efficiently. And that I can love that much harder.