Barefoot in the Dark

By Iffley Road. Posted: January 10, 2014

by Duncan Wilkinson

It’s a weird feeling running barefoot in the dark. I’ve just started running barefoot. Not actually, really barefoot anymore as I still don’t trust the pavements. My local paper tells me the pavements are strewn with broken glass, discarded needles and potholes so deep the echo bounces back with an Australian accent.

In the lighter evenings someone, every once in a while would ask, as I glided past, ‘Did you know you’ve not got any shoes on?’

It’s not like forgetting to put your tie on. Or putting on my new compression underwear and only realising afterwards that I’m not wearing any shorts. Don’t ask.

But mostly I don’t actually run barefoot.

I bought a pair of barefoot trainers. That was an interesting Google search. I plumped for the ones with the individual toes. In for a penny as they say or rather £49.99. Very reasonable for running shoes I thought. Just a thin smear of rubber on the sole, zero cushioning.

I fought my anxiety that I’d cripple my knees well before several hypodermics would be hanging off my ankles and set off.

The ground is now a kind of runners Braille. With the exception of the flattest pavement, and in today’s austerity what pavement isn’t a patchwork of cracked slabs and lumpy tarmac, every step is a discovery.

It’s a weird feeling running barefoot in the dark. It still feels like I’m doing something illicit, like walking around without my trousers on. Not that I’d know. But it’s dark so no-one knows my dirty secret. Although when I buy my next pair I may go for the luminous yellow pair. Barefoot trainers that is, not trousers. Although…. no, bad idea. I’m looking for different places to run. Different ground to experience. I don’t care about pace or distance, yet I’m running further and faster. I’ve given up running to music, previously the only way I could keep my pace.

My head torch provides a pool of silver light in front of me but it’s still a delight to discover the feel of the ground with each step and push forward for the next.

My feet have become my focus. Not in some strange way although my Google searches did take a few unexpected turns until I refined my search for barefoot attire.

I’m now transfixed by the feel of every surface I can walk or run on. I want to run every day.

I now hate wearing socks. I probably suffer from podiatry claustrophobia. I wonder whether I should Google that. Probably not.

But I already know the cure. A long run in the darkness.

I want the winter to last forever. I wonder what it feels like to run in the snow?

I’m still learning to run barefoot. It focuses my mind. I’m simply running. I’m fascinated by every step.

I’ve found out I love my bare feet in the dark, but please believe me, not a weird way.

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