Despite a heavy travel schedule since my last post, I have managed a whole lot of quality barefoot running and walking.  I have mentioned this before, but my barefoot mecca of choice right now is Centennial Park here in Nashville, Tennessee.  They must use those industrial lawnmowers that SUCK everything right up, because the grass there is almost entirely free of trash—and believe me, Nashvillains aren’t exactly the most progressive sorts of folks.  Not that I’m bashing my adopted home; I just love clean parks and pavement, especially since I stopped wearing running shoes.  My neighborhood’s streets and sidewalks are really clean, and Centennial Park is fantastic.

I’m in the habit of slowly jogging my way North on Natchez Trace, through the Vanderbilt Campus, across West End Ave and voila!  I am in barefoot heaven.  My dog Foley and I can make a big lap around the park’s perimeter and get home with 50-55 minutes of jogging, springing and walking.  On the best, cool days, we make that loop around the park and then do a series of long sprints around the fields in front of the Parthenon (When Tennessee celebrated its centennial, back in 1896, a full scale replica of the Parthenon was built and it still stands) before heading back down Natchez to home.  Those require about 80 or 90 minutes of free time, so they are more rare.

Since we’ve had a few cool mornings, I’ve been getting some good use out of my Soft Star moccasins (www.softstarshoes.com).  It’s as close to barefoot as I’ve found.  Several friends are wearing Vibram Five Fingers, but as those folks weren’t running or even walking barefoot, I don’t have any impressions from them.  The Soft Star mocs are pretty much a nice soft leather sack for your feet, with a lovely sheepskin footbed to keep you warm and provide a little padding.  I think it’s the padding that takes away from the barefoot feel.  But the warmth is nice when it’s cold.

Not that it’s really been cold or anything.  I ran in my mocs down to the park on what was probably the chilliest morning this Fall.  It was in the low 40s.  When we hit the dewy grass, I took off the mocs and did the whole park run barefoot.  It felt great, though my feet did quickly go pretty numb and eventually got a little achy.  But I put my mocs back on and warmed down on the way home.

I know I’m a broken record, but I just have to say once again how GREAT it feels to run and walk barefoot, and how much pleasure it has given me to be able to run at all after all those years of achilles tendon pain and encroaching plantar fascitis.  Being in good shape and relatively lean form at 45 is a real pleasure.  I have 8 and 14 year old kids and I can totally keep up with them.

Have a great one, and if you haven’t at least taken a walk around the block in your bare feet lately, do yourself a favor…

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