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August 15, 2009

Kenpo X 005

Kempo X Workout barefoot of course

It has been way too long since my last post. I have many excuses as to why I took my leave of absence, but, the truth is I find it difficult to stay focused. I enjoy the newness of challenges and projects and when the fun starts to fade I tend to move on. Lots of things have changed and I will attempt to catch up with this post and keep the updates coming.

With all the changes I still am barefoot almost 98% of time. I have had some struggles with sticking to the barefoot way of life at times and I attribute that to the long learning curve. I have had moments when I have thought about going back to shoes and from time to time I will run in my minimal shoes and I find it to be nice. Running barefoot in the Seattle area can be a challenge. There is no shortage of sharp debris on the ground and there are times I get fed up with stepping on stuff. When I started this journey I thought I would just step on all of this stuff and over time become immune to some of the harsh sensations. I have come a long, long way from my blistering start eight months ago and I am continually amazed of the benefits being barefoot. I do wonder if I will ever get used to the sharp single rocks that patiently await my foot arrival. This is the one area of bare footing that I do grow tired of. There are days when I just want to run and not feel all of the sharps. I can avoid them for the most part by running in certain locations and that defeats my long term goal of running anywhere barefoot. I am realizing the achievement of that goal and I believe I can handle any surface that comes my way. It may not be pretty, pain free, or fast but I can get from point to point if needed. I have been running less lately and walking long distances. When I started I could not go three miles walking barefoot and today I could walk into double digits with no problem. The progress is there and quite remarkable if I take the time to realize it. I am not a big fan of being patient with progress. It fails to enter my mind that I have been in shoes for over 40 years. I thought this would happen quickly like a month or two. It takes some time to reverse all of the negative impacts that shoes have on our bodies and I would say after 40 years of shoes my progress is good.

My feet have changed without me knowing it. The first notable difference is the size of my feet. I knew that my feet would spread out a bit but I had no idea how much until Patti and I were preparing for a rock climbing trip into Oregon. I have about 5 pairs of rock climbing shoes for different conditions. When I was putting together our gear I thought I had better try them on to see how they felt. All of my rock shoes used to fit perfectly except one pair that was always too big which I used with thick socks for winter rock climbing. You guessed it; I now only have one pair of rock shoes and four pair that are so tight I could not climb with them. This is just a small example as all of my footwear seems to be uncomfortable. When I do wear footwear my feet are not at home and they beg to be released from their confinement. Once you get used to walking around as you should structured footwear does not feel right and my knees feel like they are suffering from misalignment. The only footwear that does not affect me is my very minimal running flats.

All of my P90X workouts are barefoot. At first it was a little tough and my weak ankle nagged me with some of the high impact exercise. Being barefoot has had a very positive impact or should I say less impact. What I mean is P90X has Plyometrics (jump training), Kenpo X (martial arts kick boxing), Yoga X, as well as, high intensity weight training that is a six day a week training schedule for 90 days. High impact exercise has the ability to injure easily and that is why low impact exercise became so popular. High impact develops explosive strength and I believe it is very important to any person or athlete. The catch is the impact can be damaging or hard on joints, ligaments, and tendons. This is where barefoot has provided so many benefits for me. When I wore footwear to cushion my landings I experienced more impact translated as joint pain. Since training barefoot I have increased ankle strength and lowered my impact during high impact training. My feet tell me how to land softly and my progress is measurable with the absence of joint pain. Another notable benefit is my balance as evidenced in my yoga practice. I have noticed a huge improvement in all of my balance poses and my strength has increased as well.

Being barefoot is the best way to go for all human beings without question. I believe there are times when footwear is in order and I don’t shy away from protecting my feet when I am doing something extreme that will cause me injury. I find it to be fun most of the time and when I don’t I have to remember the benefits far outweigh the minor inconveniences that I experience. Over the next couple of weeks I will attempt to update this blog with some of the wild experiences this summer and there has been many. Check back soon, Jay.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. George permalink
    August 21, 2009 2:46 pm

    Hey, Jay! I’ve enjoyed reading your articles on your barefoot workouts. I run about 25 miles a week. I do wear running shoes because, as you mentioned, the stones and things you can step on. However, I do a lot of walking barefoot and also do most of my errends here in Seattle barefoot, weather-permitting, of course. It really does make your feet feel really good. At least when walking, it’s much easier to avoid stones and sharp objects that hurt your feet. When going faster as in running, it’s much harder to avoid these things.

    Anyway, Jay, take care, and keep up the barefooting.


  2. September 1, 2009 11:59 am

    Hi Jay,
    I’m just a hack weekend barefoot runner, but I’ve been doing it for a few years & you’re right, some parts of Seattle are tough. I used to live on Queen Anne Hill, & the roads were smooth & relatively debris-free. Capitol Hill has been a different story. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve broken skin while running, & the most recent time was 2 weeks ago on Cap Hill… Not a big break, & surprisingly it was a large-ish wood splinter, not glass. But it was uncomfortable for a number of days, & I haven’t been running since (though I have been walking). Foot’s better now (splinter’s still there) so I MAY go running tomorrow… we’ll see. I’m still not comfortable going barefoot into the grocery store (which I have attempted) or into a museum, & I haven’t attempted restaurants at all… those are the current hurdles for me. The positive sensations of barefooting far outweigh the negative.

    • barefootjay permalink*
      September 1, 2009 9:01 pm

      Thanks for posting JC. I have been going into all public places barefoot and have been met with resistance at times. I have some cards I printed up explaining my spiritual barefoot way of life and they go over well. After the stores I frequent have gotten to know me I have no problem. I happened to be in a pair of shoes in Trader Joes today and the cashier said “I thought I would never see the day when you had shoes on.” He gave me a hard time for wearing shoes go figure! I love being barefoot and it is worth the growing pains for sure. J

  3. December 15, 2009 2:56 pm

    Jay –

    We’re doing a story on barefoot running and I wanted to reach out to you. Please email me at your earliest convenience. Thanks.

    BG, editor, RCNW Magazine

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