Tuesday, June 19, 2012

In The Footsteps Of My Ancestors


So, part of the this lifestyle change that I am effecting (hereafter referred to as the Primal Shift, or perhaps "throwbacking" if I'm feelin' froggy) is transitioning to being barefoot.  I'm sure that some people are probably like "that sounds both painful and icky" or some derivative thereof, but let me splain... no, there is too much.  Let me sum up. (Anyone?  Anyone?)
So, there are oodles and oodles of places you can go to find out the how and why of barefooting (my favorite sources being Mark's Daily Apple and Barefoot Ted.  So I won't bore you with my regurgitating of their work when it's likely I'd get it wrong and frankly, they deserve the attention (they're awesome... go on... you know you wanna look...).  But suffice it to say that it's good for you, and it's natural.  Also, as I may or may not have mentioned before, I'm something of an anachronism and frankly I like the idea of getting back to the tribal-warrior state of being that I feel I missed the bus on.  I mean, sure... air conditioning and refrigerators and such are all awesome, but something feels as though it's lacking... but that's a post for the future.
So as far as this whole transition process goes, the idea is to go barefoot as much as possible, even on long hikes or when running, but much like walking into Mordor, barefooting is not something one simply does.  Of course, if you were, say, just learning how to walk at ALL, then sure, why not... you're a baby and you probably hurt yourself dozens of times a day, but then, you likely can't read this and if so then I have a business proposition for you.
Anyway, I have in the past thought about doing this but I'm a relatively impulsive person, so I just went out and bought some of these and then promptly lost my (then 80$) investment.  This time, I've decided to be a bit more intelligent.  And the whole goal of this process is barefooting.  So I'm going to actually work on being able to walk around barefoot before I start throwing money at things.
Now, I AM going to buy a pair of these relatively soon because I want to get to the point that I can wear them to work (being as close to barefoot as possible) but since I need to wear shoes that look good to work, I probably can't wear any FiveFingers (although I need to check on that... their materials would probably be better for certain things, like in case I spill something on my foot or whatever).
Anyway, I'm walking barefoot as much as I can but I find that A) a lot of places don't let you in if you're actually barefoot, and B) my feet aren't hoss enough yet to be able to handle all the trials and tribulations of Earth's bare face.  So the shoes (which are actually designed for running in) will look good enough that when I begin wearing them to work they'll be aesthetically appropriate, as well as being well-designed for the minimalist lifestyle I'm transitioning too.  They're gonna be my training wheels.
For example, on the hike I went on, I had to switch to my tennis shoes after a while which, while comfy enough, aren't helping me make my transition any.  The RunAmocs will be better for offering my feet some protection while still allowing me to condition my feet more.  I might be able to even handle the heat of that baking rock outcropping.
In addition, I heard somewhere (though not the two previously mentioned websites, I should mention) that walking on gravel is the best way to condition your feet quickly.  Now, any common sense will tell you that that's going to be uncomfortable at best and likely not an enjoyable experience, at least at first.  But I am reminded of my six weeks in basic training back in '02, when I had to transition to marching all day in combat boots.  It sucks, but you get past it.
So, we have a hilly, gravel driveway (approximately 680 barefoot paces from the house, down the gully, and up to the paved road, I've just discovered) and I decided to hoof it today, to start breaking my feet in.
I can't tell you how appropriate that phrase felt.  At first it just was a little uncomfortable, but by the end my poor feet felt as if they owed the mob money and had finally run out of places to run, thereby eliciting a knee-capping, flensing, and burial-at-sea-ing.  It hurt, iswhatimgettinat.
It was SUCH a relief to walk back inside on our bare, polished concrete floors.  I do have to say though that the gravel exhibited in stark relief the different type of walk one uses barefoot.  I was looking carefully where I was going to place my next step; my stride was shorter, and lighter, as I was landing on the midfoot and rolling my weight to the ball of my feet, rather than just clomping my heel down and moving on.  Also, I found Deiche to be a handy crutch on those occasions when my arch discovered where Mount Everest has been hiding.  Gamers, imagine walking the length of a football field, barefoot, and the turf's been covered with D4's.
Anyway, strange as it sounds, my feet actually feel REALLY GOOD right now, about two hours later, and I'm looking forward to doing this again, possibly tomorrow.  According to whatever source I read, my feet would be "conditioned" in a few weeks, and while that may be true to some degree, I've also seen a video where a man said it took him a full year before he could wear his FiveFingers all day without complaint.  I am hoping this will speed up the process, though, and if not... at least you guys will have learned from my mistakes!  I'll keep you updated on how this goes.

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