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Mount Timpanogos in VFF KSOs October 11, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Hiking, Life, Running, Shoes , 1 comment so far

Photo by Eric Ward of Provo, UT.

I live in the shadow of a very majestic mountain.  It’s called Mount Timpanogos.  It sits at the Western edge of the Rocky Mountains in the Wasatch Range.  At 11,749 feet above sea level, it is both imposing and beautiful.  The elevation of the valley to the West, Utah Valley, comes in around 4,500 feet above sea level.  7,000+ feet above your head is something to behold.  I climbed to the summit once before as a boy scout.  My troop hiked part of the way up the mountain, camped and summited the next day.  It was, as I recall, a very beautiful view.  That was over 20 years ago.

Recently, I’ve been feeling the urge to try out my new feet on something different than my usual run.  As I’ve been barefoot running for the past several months, my feet and legs have become quite different than they once were.  As I’ve described to several people when talking about barefoot running, I feel like a kid again.  As I run barefoot, the fun and enjoyment have returned.  The next time you observe kids running barefoot, take note of how they move and how much fun they seem to be having.  Then, if you have the opportunity to contrast them with an adult running in the same area, notice how much less fluid the adult typically seems when running.  This difference comes from the “spring” that kids and adults running barefoot utilize consisting of the arch, achilles, calf, quads, and glutes.  I wasn’t quite ready to attempt the hike barefoot so I wore my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs).  My brother-in-law said I was brave for doing so, although I imagine he thinks I was a bit nuts and just being nice.

Last Monday I met up with a classmate of mine from high school to hike Mount Timpanogos.  We started our hike at the Timpooneke trail head in American Fork canyon which is at 7,370 feet above sea level.  The hike was fun and a great workout.  The leaves had passed their fall peak, but there was still plenty of color to appreciate.  The weather for the week preceding our hike was nothing less than perfect.  The day of the hike . . . not so much.  Partly cloudy skies with a forecast of scattered or isolated storms.  We got a bit wet on the way up, but for the most part the hike was dry.

Timpanogos Basin

For me, the most memorable sections of the ascent were coming into Timpanogos basin which is a large plateau at a little over 10,000 feet above sea level, and arriving at the saddle.  The saddle stands at 11,288 feet above sea level.  The view, of course, was fantastic as you can see into Utah Valley as well a great distance in all directions.  When we arrived we debated on continuing to the summit.  There was a large storm coming across Utah lake that would make our time at the summit very miserable and possibly dangerous.  We began to expeditiously trek to the summit when we noticed the speed at which the storm was progressing in our direction.  We turned around and headed down the mountain.

The Storm

This brings me to the highlight of the adventure.  We literally ran down a good portion of the trail.  This was very technical and an exercise in agility as the trail traverses several talus piles.  However, as we continued down the mountain, I noticed how smooth my feet were carrying me.  It was an absolute blast!  It required acute concentration, but it was an extremely satisfying descent.

In the end, I’m glad I went.  I’m glad I wore my KSOs, and I’m glad I have been running barefoot.  I can’t imagine it would have been as enjoyable to wear my KSOs had I not been running barefoot and strengthening my feet and legs over the past several months.

Do You Like Running In Those? October 4, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Life, Running, Shoes , add a comment

When people see me wearing my Vibram Five Fingers (VFFs) I invariably get the question, “Do you like running in those shoes?”

The answer to that question is complicated, and since I’ve developed such a passion of barefoot/minimalist running I risk the very real possibility of letting my mouth run like a river.  I’ve caught myself on more than one occasion dominating the conversation when the subject of running emerges.  I could talk about running barefoot most of the evening . . . and I often do.  The short answer to the above question is, no.  I don’t like running in VFFs . . . I prefer barefoot.  I then get an inquisitive/confused look from the questioner.

Questioner:  “Where do you run?”

Me:  “Pretty much anywhere.  Mainly I run on the sidewalk and asphalt.”

Questioner:  “Doesn’t that hurt?”

Me:  “Funny you should ask . . .”

After giving as brief explaination about the benefits of barefoot running and my personal reasons for which I started, I tell them that if I can’t be barefoot I throw on the VFFs.  If I can’t be as casual as VFFs require, I throw on my Sanuks.

So, in short, no I don’t like running in VFFs if I can avoid it, (mind you I haven’t been through a winter running in this manner) and yes, I love my VFFs for when I can’t be barefoot.

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part V August 30, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Advantages of Barefoot Running , add a comment

Advantage #5

For the most part, the more you use your barefoot shoes, the stronger they get.

With shoes purchased in a store, the soles, uppers, cushion all wear out with time and use.

What a great deal your feet truly are . . .

My Feet Have Changed August 23, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running, Shoes, Thoughts , 1 comment so far

True to my desire to give barefooting a good try, I have only had three different situations surrounding my feet.  If I’m in a somewhat dressy situation, such as church, I wear my Sanuk Boardrooms.  If I have to enter a public building where shoes are required, but it’s not a dressy situation, my footwear of choice is my Vibram Five Fingers.  Every other situation I go sans shoes or any other type of foot covering.  So, being summer and all, I’ve been shoe-less quite often.

Of course, I’m still running barefoot.  Just this past Wednesday, I ran/walked (mostly ran) 4.5 miles.  This was quite a unique run.  Not only was I barefoot, but it was also dusk when I started.  It’s amazing how the senses in your feet really compensate for diminishing amount of eyesight you have at night.  I hit a few pebbles on the trail, but my body did exactly what it was meant to do.  My body’s reflex made me do a double-step.  The pebbles were no more than split-second annoyances.

As I’ve continued running barefoot and utilizing the muscles and structure of my feet the way they were designed, I noticed something that I had read was going to happen.  My feet have gotten bigger.  I used to have the most narrow feet.  Now . . . They’re beefy.  They’ve really bulked up in the mid/forefoot.  What really made me notice the change was about a week ago I was sitting in church in my Sanuk Boardrooms.  My feet were feeling kind of claustrophobic so I kicked them off.  It was like taking a breath after being underwater for several minutes.  It felt good.  It was that moment I connected: my my shoes didn’t used to fit like that.  It’s been a very gradual thing, but as I’ve read from several sources . . . my feet got bigger.  I haven’t measured my height to see if I’ve gotten taller, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I grow a centimeter or so.  🙂

Here’s to the amazing ability of our bodies to adapt to nearly any situation in which we put them.

Keeping Track July 19, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Gadgets, Health, Running , add a comment

A little while ago, I met someone that was really into cycling.  When I say he was really into cycling . . . it’s an understatement.  This guy admitted to me that he had spent close to $20,000 in one year on bikes and cycling equipment.  WOW!  Was I ever glad the tool of my exercise/hobby came with me out of the womb.  However, he did show me one thing that really piqued my interest . . . because I’m a total gadget guy.  He has a Garmin GPS sport watch that has a heart rate monitor, plots your course and uploads it to the internet, shows you your pace, calories burned, climb . . . I think it even does your taxes for you.  I started thinking of how I could justify the $200 price tag.  No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t figure out how to justify it on my in-between-med-school-and-residency income . . . which is, in round numbers, zero.  Then it hit me!  There’s gotta be an app for that!

Sure enough, here it is: Runmeter

Obviously it has a prerequisite . . . the iPhone, but who wouldn’t love to justify that into their hands?  As I’m learning from this incredible app, it’s super smart and does a ton of things while you’re not even thinking about it.  One of my favorite features, that I haven’t experienced yet, is that it will post your run to Facebook and when people comment on it . . . Runmeter will read their comment to you!  I guess that could either be good or bad . . . depending on your friends. 🙂  The only feature it doesn’t seem to have is the wireless heart rate monitor.  This app is definately worth the $4.99 on iTunes.

Barefoot Concert July 5, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Family, Thoughts , add a comment

Every Monday night, there are free concerts in the American Fork Amphitheater.

Naturally, David and Hannah went barefoot.

What says “summer concert” like going barefoot and feeling the warm stone beneath your feet?

Enjoy the warmth on your feet while you can!  The ground is going to be cold before I want it too and I will be wishing away the months until it’s summer again!

“Can’t You Get Parasites by Going Barefoot?” June 29, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , add a comment

Chances are, if you’ve told anyone about your desire to try running barefoot you’ve heard that question.  So, can you get infected by a parasite by running or walking around barefooted?  I hate to say, but the answer is . . . yes.  The parasite you’re at risk for acquiring when going around barefoot is hookworm.  Pretty gross, huh?  Don’t let this stop you from kicking off your shoes.  Even with this bad news, I’ve got some good news to share.  Although going barefoot is a risk factor for a hookworm infection, it’s not the only risk factor.  Nor is it the most important risk factor.  It is, however, probably the most easily changeable risk factor in hookworm infections.  Hookworm infection is acquired through skin exposure to larvae in soil contaminated with human feces.  Honestly, how many of you can say that this applies to you?  Hookworm infection in the United States is rare and only really played a role in the impoverished South until the 1930’s.

So, can you get infected?  Yes.  Is it likely? Not really.

Running Barefoot in the Rain June 28, 2010

Posted by Emily in : Running, Thoughts , 1 comment so far

A few days ago, as I was walking out of Walmart (which must be my favorite store since it is the store I shop at the most) it had started to pour rain.  I was wearing some flat sandals (totally barefoot approved) but they had no traction on the bottom of them.  I found myself hydroplaning on the small layer of water that coated the entire distance from me to my car.  Afraid of falling on my butt, (which almost happened several times) I took off my shoes and ran barefoot to my car.  I remembered David telling me how our feet get more grip when they are wet (sweaty or whatever) and our shoes get slippery when they were wet.

WOW.  He wasn’t kidding!

I ran confidently to my car, barefoot, in the pouring rain.  Not only did it remind me of being a kid, but it made me long for warm Texas rain storms.  There’s nothing quite like puddle jumping in warm puddles, with warm rain coating your face.

This barefoot thing really brings out the kid in you.

Advantages of Barefoot Running, Part IV June 11, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Advantages of Barefoot Running , add a comment

Advantage #4

It’s easy to pack for a trip.

Barefoot shoes (a.k.a. your feet) don’t take up any room in your luggage.

Barefoot Walk June 10, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Life, Thoughts , add a comment

It was about 5:30 pm and the wind was blowing.  We just put our son down for the night.  I asked, “Do you guys want to go for a barefoot walk?”  Surprisingly, Emily (the supposed other contributor to this blog) said, “Yes.”  We all grabbed a jacket to shield us from the whipping winds and set off on our little walk.

It’s good to have everything you need to walk, run, play, whatever your pleasure.  Your feet are an amazing part of your body.  I felt a bit like a kid tonight . . . traipsing down the sidewalk with nothing on my feet but the dust I picked up along the way.

Hannah, one of our barefooters-in-training, insisted she hold the dog’s leash.  She ended up jogging most of the way.  It was interesting to watch her perfect barefoot running form . . . self taught.  Kids are pros at listening to their bodies.  What kid do you know that pushes through the pain?  I guess getting back into the barefoot experience of life helps us learn to be like kids again.

Enjoy the summer barefoot!