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Welcome to Shod Off!

January 17, 2012

Meet my feet
Can I get along in this shod society in my bare feet? I’m going to try. Since yesterday, I have completely shod off!

Two Christmases ago, a friend recommended Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run. At the time I had been nursing an injury that didn’t appear to be getting any better. I was afraid my running days were over and I thought reading about the love of running would only lead me to despair. But I picked up the book anyway and was surprised at how it upturned my ideas about running, exercise, health and my feet.

Prior to reading that book, I was the ultimate shoe-wearer. If I was awake, I had on shoes. I wore old running shoes around the house, new running shoes to the gym, supportive sandals in the summer and comfortable boots in the winter. In fact, nothing was more gratifying to me than a new pair of running shoes—there wasn’t a better way to spend $100.

My Hail Mary
Reading Born to Run gave me hope that maybe my running days weren’t over. At 33, I threw one last Hail Mary and decided to give this barefoot thing a try. I began first by simply taking off my shoes around the house. It doesn’t sound like much, but as a stay-at-home mom, I am “around the house” most of the day. After three days of walking barefoot back and forth between my bedroom, living room, bathroom, laundry room and kitchen, my feet, calves and ankles were so sore that I had to put shoes back on just to function. It was unbelievable to me that a marathon runner, boot camp instructor, certified Spinning instructor and fitness fanatic, could be so sore merely from walking in naked feet around the house.

When walking around the house in my bare feet no longer left me sore, I gradually began running in a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. I was too timid to go completely unshod—the FiveFingers were like foot condoms, protecting me from the unknown consequences of this new risky behavior. After a few months of switching back and forth between my Vibrams and my Nike Frees, my feet felt strong enough to conquer any distance in my Vibrams. Soon after that, I ditched my athletic shoes altogether and only wore my Vibrams for running and then later, all exercise, save cycling. The best part is, my body feels better than ever. The constant achiness and nagging issues I had when I was running with shoes have gone.

Going all the way
Motivated by a Facebook friend and true barefoot runner, I eventually mustered up the courage to take my Vibrams off—and it was incredible. I was a kid again. I didn’t care about how fast or far I was going. It was just pure fun. And the sensation of the ground right under my skin was exhilarating.

Now I don’t ever want to wear shoes again. For anything. So I am going to see if I can get away with it. My plan is to keep a pair of flips flops in my purse at all times in case I have any run-ins. If I am told that I cannot be barefoot in a particular place, well, then I’ll be a good sport and put on the flip flops until I leave. After all, I am not doing this to piss people off. I just don’t want to wear shoes if I don’t have to.

My flip flops in the cart at Kroger, in case I got harassed by an employee trying to enforce their shoes and shirt required policy.

So far, so good.
Two trips to the library, a shopping trip to Kroger, walking my daughter to kindergarten, walking my son into preschool—all done totally barefoot. You know, if you act like you have shoes on, few people will even notice that you don’t. I am hoping this continues to be the case. It is, after all, only my second day.

A quick look at my dirty bare foot while walking through Kroger.

The exceptions
There are a few times where I will have to wear shoes. First of all, my employer requires that I wear shoes when I teach classes. I will continue to wear Vibrams to teach boot camp and my cycling shoes for Spinning classes. Also, I see no advantage to biking barefoot. It’d almost be like roller skating barefoot. How could you even do that?

Lastly, my husband has asked that I don’t embarrass him in front of his coworkers. In other words, he doesn’t want me to go barefoot to his work parties. OK, but if Shailene Woodley,  supporting actor in the movie The Descendants, can pull off Vibrams at the Golden Globes in Hollywood, then surely I can rock a pair of those five-fingered kicks at a VA party in Mississippi.

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10 Comments
  1. Karen Smith permalink

    While I do love being barefoot as much as possible, I don’t think I could ever go barefoot ALL the time. Especially in winter. I love my thick socks in comfy boots/shoes etc. I like to be warm, and my feet are notoriously cold.
    I also don’t think I could go barefoot in most public places because I am creeped out about the dirtiness. I even get grossed out when the bottom of my socks are dirty at home!

  2. TripletDaddy permalink

    Please don’t do this! bad idea! Put your shoes back on and for pete’s sake, wash your feet!!!

  3. Meredith permalink

    This could get tricky if you lived in snow country. But, who knows, maybe you’d find a way through that? 😉

  4. Ashley Chamberlin permalink

    Yay for you! Enjoyed reading this – and kudos for trying to go totally foot-naked. I can’t wait to see how that goes over in MS…

  5. Nikki permalink

    The only problem I see is that in the summer it might be a bit hot on your feet. Pavement can get really hot. Also, be sure you look out for glass and other such things that could cut you up and stuff. And what about public bathrooms???? Ok I am seeing lots of problems here, I think you should limit the no shoe wearing!

  6. Christina permalink

    Great post Marci. You go!

  7. nicole b. permalink

    We need an update since you first posted this. Did you go barefoot in Vegas? Are you still going barefoot in MS? And have you gone in a public restroom barefoot? I’m so curious. xo

  8. TimeTraveler permalink

    My, my. You are only 33, so you may not even be aware what went on in the US during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Young women going barefoot everywhere was in style, and “I hate shoes” was a commonly heard phrase coming out of the mouths of a surprising number of young women. I am curious if you are even aware of just how relatively common this was. They don’t tell you this in history classes…….and they could walk on anything, including the hottest pavement, they were so used to it…..

  9. Good for you. I hope it works out for you. Tough soles are not a problem on hot pavement or broken glass. I started going barefoot at home and around the neighbourhood, and at my desk, a year ago. I wear sandals most of the time and have been able to avoid socks except when it snows. I hope more people learn the benefits and adopt the same sort of lifestyle, and if not, that they refrain judgement on you.

    • Thanks Shawn. My soles are getting tougher and I love it. Fortunately, I live in a pretty temperate climate so I haven’t had to deal with snow… yet.

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