This was my first run barefoot on a tarmac road.
It’s a country lane with quite a smooth surface, although fairly coarse in places — no loose stones or gravel. The run was just short of 2 miles long, out and back. I’d recommend any new barefooters to run out and back so that they are not forced to complete a circuit on sore feet.
This run was flat to start with and then a gently increasing descent, but not very steep, down about 80ft.
Initial feeling was much more comfortable than I was expecting and I didn’t miss the cushioning of running shoes (usually Asics 2100 series). In fact after about half a mile I was thinking that my first barefoot 10k could probably be attempted sooner than I thought, maybe within a month or so. I turned around just short of a mile, after about 7mins 30, and still I was ok. The road was a little bit prickly for a while, but caused no problems.
Soon after then I began to feel that the outside of the ball of both feet (just below the little toe), was beginning to feel a little hot. This deteriorated and by about three quarters distance the feet were feeling quite sore, as if the skin had been rubbed very thin. I stopped to assess the damage, expecting to see redness, but everything looked ok so I continued. By the time I got home my feet were very sore on that outer ball area, and I was convinced they had been rubbed completely raw. But, when I looked, no surface skin damage was evident. After a quick clean up I could see quite large, deep blisters present on both feet on the outside ball and also smaller ones, surprisingly, further back, about halfway from toe to heel; walking in barefoot was now very painful.
What struck me was how quickly my feet had gone from being completely ok to very painful, probably no more that half a mile. I was glad I’d not run around the 5-mile loop I had considered.
Maybe I went just a little too far for my first outing because I was going to have to wait a few days for recovery before venturing out barefoot again.
The other significant fact was that running barefoot had not aggravated my sore heel at all. Indeed, I wasn’t even aware of it whilst running.
This had been a very interesting experiment. I already knew that I landed on the outside edges of my feet because that’s where my shoes wear down. I think this landing position has been adopted by the years of wearing orthotics that are built up on the medial side (as most of them are). I’ve also been wearing anti-pronation shoes for almost as long as I have been running, and my feet have consequently been forced to take weight (and make initial ground contact), on their outside edge.
The revelation has been the confirmation that barefoot running will force a much more efficient gait. If I continue to run barefoot, then my feet are not going to tolerate landing, and especially scuffing, along on the outside of their soles.