Naked Foot 5k!

I love this picture--see the difference between mid foot and heel striking?

The fun race tee

Ever since concentrating on changing my form, one of my bucket list items has been to run a 5k in bare feet. So when I won an entry to the DC version of the Naked Foot 5k a couple of weeks ago, how could I not go?

Let’s be clear–my goal was to run a bare foot 5k, not race one. I haven’t done enough miles completely bare foot to make racing a 5k reality, but I knew I could run it. I drove down to the race location in Meadowbrook Park in Bethesda. A beautiful park, btw. I met up with a couple of friends from home and we decided to warm up on the course. I did this in shoes and as we headed into the wooded section of the course, I kind of second guessed whether or not I should attempt this. There was a nice stretch of gravel, for starters, which is NOT friendly to bare feet. Then there was the single track in the woods. While it was a nice hard-packed dirt trail, there were still plenty of sticks and stones that worried me.ย After the wooded section, the course went back to pavement, where I figured I’d be most at ease.

With Katherine and my friend Hazel pre-race

We finished the warm up and then I located Katherine of Neon Blonde Runner, who also won an entry to the race. Katherine is a sweetheart and so easy to chat with.She’s also got a lot of running talent and is just getting started–she hasn’t even scratched the surface with where she is going. It was great to connect with her.

Soon we lined up, me in my bare feet, and we were off. The grassy section we started on was great, as was the first section of pavement. Then we hit the gravel and woods. I had to drastically slow down to make it across this section, but then once I got into the woods, I felt comfortable again. In fact, I caught myself smiling a big smile back there–I love trail running. Then it was back onto the pavement again.

This is where the bottoms of my feet started to scream at me, which surprised me. I thought the woods and grass would be my biggest challenge, but no, it was the very porous black top and concrete. By the final section back in, I was jonesing for some grass–I could feel blood blisters on my toes and soles of my feet. Finally the sweet relief of the grass was in sight and I finished off the race. A slow time, but that was my plan anyhow. The success was in running a 5k in my bare feet.

I had a blast at this event–it was low key, full of other bare footers, minimalist runners and a smattering of traditionally shod runners. Everyone was out there to

have a good time and explore the world of natural running. Katherine tore up the course, finishing in third place overall!

Not so pretty feet post race

When I finished, my first goal was to get to the car, clean up my feet, and get some shoes on. After returning home, I did a more thorough job of cleaning up the sore spots, applied some Aquaphor and bandaids, and spent the remainder of the day walking gingerly. Yes, I paid a price for this one, but it was worth it. Goal accomplished. I smiled all day thinking about it.

Would you/have you ever considered running a race in bare feet? Why/why not?ย 


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  1. says

    I loved the idea of this when I first saw you mention it on your blog a few weeks ago. I would love to do a race barefoot but would need to spend a lot of time and mileage beforehand in more minimalist shoes / barefoot before I made that jump. I give you so much credit for doing it =)
    Michele @ nycrunningmama recently posted..Best. Decision. Ever.My Profile

  2. says

    Wow, neat! Good for you, taking on a challenge like that (and props for focusing only on that rather than your race time. focus is what makes goals happen!). I’ve never run barefoot, but I imagine the pavement being very painful. Grass would def be my preference. Congrats on accomplishing your goal. Hope your feet feel better!
    Meredith @ DareYouTo recently posted..Tangy TunaMy Profile

  3. says

    I haven’t run a race barefoot. Maybe if I took your approach of not racing, but just running it – smart approach! The most I do barefoot is run around our yard with my daughter and some strides along the football field with drills. Great to hear how it went for you!
    Jen B. recently posted..Airport 5k 2012 โ€“ Race RecapMy Profile

  4. says

    Like you, I’d run one, not race one. I have certainly experienced the pain from running barefoot on asphalt. When I blithely tried over 3 miles barefoot one day (first time ever running barefoot), I have deep, deep blisters that took months to even surface, and plenty of worn skin, too! In the future I would stick to grass or dirt. The funny thing is, I spent my childhood barefoot and my feet are pretty darn tough. I thought they could easily with stand the stress, but no!
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..Decisions, decisions.My Profile

  5. says

    I think if it were a really grassy/dirt course I may consider it but I don’t run barefoot very much so I don’t think it would be smart. I used to live barefoot in the summers as a kid and remember having very tough feet. Great job on your barfoot 5k!
    Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem recently posted..NOT NOW!My Profile

  6. ~K~ says

    I would not want to run in bare feet because it sounds so painful! I know people swear it’s great and helps you have better form, but, nope, not for me. LOVE the race tshirt though! Bet you’ll get some looks when you wear it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. says

    I’ve worked out 100% barefoot (in my home) for over two years now. I won’t rule out naked running. Being barefoot is so natural to me. I had to turn to barefoot workouts in the first place because exercising with sneakers on the carpet actually hurt my feet.

    How do you master the mid-foot? My running kid is a heel striker and he’s been trying to hard to break the habit.
    Yum Yucky recently posted..Video: Why Half-Naked Yoga Is Good For YouMy Profile

  8. says

    Wow, what a cool race. I think I would like to try doing a really short barefoot race sometime. I have done a very little bit of barefoot running after a few runs, just to work on form and I believe it really does help.
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Weekend of funMy Profile

  9. says

    I would never (hate that word) run a barefoot race as I dispise being barefoot outside and sometimes in my own filthy house. Ewe, yuck! But serious props to you! Cute shirt always a bonus.
    Fueled by Spite recently posted..Next raceMy Profile

  10. says

    Way to go! I don’t know that I will ever go barefoot for a race, but I do use minimalist shoes and aim for a more natural running style. I have a Luna Sandals kit to put my own together and may give those a try. It takes a long time to make the transition to truly minimalist/barefoot running, though!
    Denise S. recently posted..Expo fun โ€“ continued!My Profile

  11. says

    I think it’s awesome that you ran a 5k barefoot.

    I just was more excited that you ran at Meadowbrook! I started all my marathon training runs from that pavilion and when I used to coach XC for BCC we used to meet there in the summer. Good memories. Thanks!
    Heather Winkler recently posted..50 shades…My Profile