My Latest Not-Too-Bright Running Idea

I wanted to do a speed workout tonight, and nothing could get in my way. Not the fact that I was exhausted or that it was the middle of the night. Or the fact that it was hot and sticky outside. Or the nontrivial issue that my running shoes were quite literally torn apart after a recent trail running experience (coming soon to the blog).

The first problems were more inconveniences to me than serious obstacles; I could put them aside if I was determined enough. But the problem of my sneakers was a bigger issue, and I gave it some thought. I knew I could still run in them; last night I ran 7 miles (accidentally: I missed the turnoff in the dark that would have made it 5.8 miles instead) at a decent clip in these very shoes. But speedwork is different, and I knew that shoes in such disrepair would only slow me down.

Given the facts, what would you do? Accept a slow speed workout? Not do it at all? Well, bravo, you are a sensible person. I, however, am not.

When faced with this quandary, I saw only one viable solution: Run barefoot.

I’ve considered purchasing the Vibram Five Fingers; I have no abnormal obsession with the conventional running shoe. I’ve been told that barefoot running is good for your form and healthy for your feet. So, I figured, why not give it a try now?

So, with remarkably little preparation, I was ready to go (most time spent preparing for a summer run is on the shoes, after all). And so I went. Out the door and onto shockingly uncomfortable concrete. I headed to the street for a softer surface and rationalized my barefoot running by telling myself it’s beneficial to have a nice slow warm-up. Considering my pace, that must have been one super-beneficial warm-up.

I reached the track and expected to feel relief as my feet land softly onto the lush, wet (did I mention it had just poured?), shock-absorbing—

—disappointingly hard track.

It hurt. But, this was my choice, and I was going to stick to it. Well, the running barefoot on the track lasted only a couple of laps: soon I was only doing the sprinting on the track itself, and everything else on the inner grass.

About halfway through, upon stretching my quads, I looked at my feet. They seemed a little worse for wear. In fact, one of them seemed to have a deep gash with possibly a rock or other sharp object still inside. I didn’t even notice the monster blood-blister that was forming on my big toe.

The truth is not always pretty.

I suffered through the speedwork. My splits, as you may imagine, were not great, but surprisingly not that far off either. But my stupidity tonight taught me a valuable lesson: Don’t run on a wet track at midnight without shoes or socks. Stick to the grass.

If there are any Calvin and Hobbes fans out there, such a lesson may remind you of one of Calvin’s self-taught, ridiculously specific lessons (I believe it concerned deranged mutant snow goons).

As a testament to my stupidity, an open cut on my toe just stuck to the floor and I had to yank my foot up, creating a despicable squelching noise. And on such a lovely note, I leave you.

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