Barefoot with My Shoes On: Nearly Naked

What might be the last post on my series of shoes and transitioning to minimalist running.

They were supposed to be school shoes.

I’d become so accustomed to walking around in Vibrams that I bought a pair for everyday. The black Sprints, I thought, would be lower profile than my pink TrekSports or my multi-colored Komodos. Not only is this true in terms of fashion — they are less noticeable in an outfit — but it’s also true literally. If I’m reading the manufacturer’s page correctly, the Sprints are thinner in both the sole and the footbed. Intellectually, I understood that this would make a difference if I wore them running, but it wasn’t a practical issue when I was wearing them inside my school.

Vibram FiveFinger Sprints in Black

On my feet, they look a little like Mary Janes. With, you know, toes.

Besides, I never meant to wear them running.

The first time.

But my Komodos, they get stinky.

So I wash them in the washing machine. But then they need to air dry.

You can’t expect me to run in wet shoes. I can only imagine the stench that would ensue from sweaty feet running inside humid shoes. And the Treks, they legitimately cause pain when I run. A return of the shin splints would be categorically ungood. I had to admit, the Sprints were the most logical back up choice.

Even though when I purchased them, I never meant to wear them running.

And intellectually, I understood that they’d provide even less cushion than my already un-cushy running standards. Practically, though, I had no freaking clue about what it would mean.

Now I understand why Sh*t Barefoot Runners Say hisses at gravel. Anything but the smallest pebbles is like jagged pointed rocks. Okay, maybe not every single piece. But any pieces of non-tiny gravel that are actually somewhat pointy? Totally jagged rocks lodging into my feet and/or soul. Now I understand that it is possible to blister the calloused sole of one’s foot via forefoot-striking (though that may have been a breaking-in issue) and to bruise one’s feet through shoes (blaming the gravel for that, 100% — fucking rocks).

Sole of Vibram FiveFinger Sprint

To be fair, I feel like that in these shoes less and less. Less every time I get used to a speed or distance. Then, of course, we up one or the other again, and I am temporarily reduced to, “Dear Feet: WHY?” for the last 20% of any new run.


This too shall pass. I think. At least, all evidence indicates thus. The balls of my feet are getting fatter and cushier with each run; I can go longer and longer before feeling it in my feet.

Not to mention, “feeling it in my feet” is a substitute for feeling it in my bones and joints. The rest of my body feels awesome running this way, which does make it worthwhile and enjoyable overall.

Maybe someday it will mean I try actually running barefoot, as I suggested in the comment that started this series. I still retain concerns that some of the streets where I run just aren’t safe for true barefooting; this may merit some further investigation at a future date. For now, though, this is where I’m at, pushing my boundaries some but not so much that my running time turns completely from the rhythmic moving meditation it has become for me.

At least until the next sharp rock.


I'm here. I like stuff. Some other stuff, I like less.

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5 comments on “Barefoot with My Shoes On: Nearly Naked
  1. I used to cringe when I saw people wearing those toe-having shoes…but now I get it!!!
    Run for those of us who can’t….KEEP GOING!!
    The Cockroach

  2. Jessie E. says:

    It is SO COOL to hear about how your body has adapted to this. Bodies are amazing!!

    • Tori says:

      Oh, Loard! Looking up, I don’t think I even got into the MUSCLES in my feet! Because there are now totally visible and tangible muscles in my feet. Like, if I put my fingers on the sole and my thumb on the top of my foot and press, I can feel that there is a lot more active, responsive tissue there between my fingers and the foot bones. Also, I can definitely feel them responding to changes in the ground when I run. Like, on uneven surfaces (hi, gravel!) different muscles in my feet can do different things at the same time. So now, it’s much less a matter of me under- or over-pronating my feet because that’s how my feet/ankles passively roll (no pun intended) and much more my feet actively responding, with actual muscular stretching and contracting, to the ground underneath me.

      Also, I can pick up way more things with my toes now — though I generally do not. ;)

      • Jessie E. says:

        Wow. I love bodily transformation! I didn’t really know that feet could do all of this!!

        • Tori says:

          Me neither. I was reasonably skeptical starting out, and I still have reservations about some claims and about how widely applicable the “barefoot” thing is. (For instance, I’m sure there are a lot of people for whom conventional running shoes are more comfortable as well as people for whom running is going to be displeasurable no matter what.) But at least some of the hype is grounded in anecdotal cool-bodily-happenings.

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