Another month goes by in a flash and it is with deep regret and a fair dose of shame that I admit that I have not run every day this month. I missed my run a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday after a great day out with my family. I’m embarrassed and will tender my resignation to the Facebook group “a barefoot mile a day”.
Apart from this one disgraceful transgression, or omission, I have managed to get out every day. How absurd. I genuinely cannot remember ever running for all but one day out of two months. I can remember sitting on a sofa playing PlayStation with that kind of dedication but not running.
At this point I am tempted to launch into the standard dialogue for us formerly injured shod runners who have found salvation in a less footwear-lead life, but I will resist the temptation. I shall resist the urge to point out that I could never have managed this before I started barefooting. Then, of course, running “a barefoot mile a day” would definitely have been impossible in the days before I ran barefoot.
My favourite barefoot run this month was dancing along the cliffs of Whitsand Bay in Cornwall, for a rapid mile after a bit of kayaking in the surf. The kayaking having been ended prematurely by an RNLI boat with two very polite men in it asking me to leave the military exclusion zone as there was a live firing exercise about to start. That was a real shame as the waves were much better there, but probably not worth risking getting arrested or shot. Close, but not quite worth it. So I returned to my car and packed up, before seeing the little coast path sign and feeling obliged to hit the trail barefoot. What a great way to spend a morning.
Other barefoot travels this month have led me to consider the North South divide in a barefoot context.
Now before I start on such a divisive subject, let me set out my credentials for commenting on it. I’m from the South West, which, although not explicitly stated in the official documentation on the NS divide, is clearly not included. Anything west of Bristol is in a different divide, whereby we just think anyone on the other side is either northern, Scottish or cockney. Similarly, both northerners and southerners seek to think that the South West is just full of farmers and people who make cream teas (not far from the truth, if you exclude all of the people who’ve relocated for a “change of pace”).
In addition to being from an excluded territory, I have lived for a reasonable period in the South East and in the North West, with a few years in between living in the Caribbean as a palate cleanser.
Anyway, what struck me this weekend as I ran around in Greater London, barefoot and soaking up the sun, was the lack of comments. I ran past so many people, unsurprisingly given what a glorious day it was, and only one person made a comment. They said something along the lines of “you’re brave”. Which made it quite clear that they had no idea how I feel in the night when I hear a strange noise. On a sunny day in Greater Manchester, I am confident I would have attracted more comments from strangers.
So are they less willing to comment about the strange bloke with no shoes, sunburnt forearms and a tattoo because they’re scared? Or less friendly? Or are they more used to seeing progress in the world around them and therefore less inclined to exclaim at the sight of a barefoot runner as they’ve seen it all before?