Barefoot Runners


Skin toughness (Read 409 times)

    I'm in the early stages of a transition to running barefoot.  This morning I took off my running shoes a little less than half a mile from home and began my second try at BF running. (I have been taking BF walks every evening as well.)  Although my feet have toughened up some, I still feel every little rock and I have a long ways to go.


    Just a block from home, the sidewalk was suddenly covered with those little acorn tops.  I had to cross the street.  Will ones feet eventually get tough enough for debris like that? 


    I could use some encouragement regarding tough feet.  How tough can feet get and will it take longer than the remainder of the  summer?  If you live where it's cold, do you re-toughen the feet every spring? (Skin, I mean - not muscles. I know about VFFs and other alternatives.)


    Any stories or information on tough feet will be so welcome.  I feel the muscular weakness of my feet as well, but that does not discourage me. I know they'll respond to consistent BF running.

    Professional Noob

      My calluses have changed since I started barefoot running back in April.  The calluses I had on my arch and back of heel are mostly gone now, and the calluses on the ball, outside, and main heel have thickened somewhat.  I've also finally managed to wear off a plantar wart that's been following me for 20 years, lol!  When I pick up little tiny bits of gravel, they stick into my feet and are uncomfortable with every step.  I've learned to scrape the bottom of my feet off on the sidewalk if something sticks for more than two steps.  It happens less than it used to, and I take that to mean that my feet aren't as soft as they used to be.  As far as acorns?  I'm not brave enough to try!  I'd rather run around them, lol!

      Roads were made for journeys...

      Imminent Catastrophe

        Yeah, my usual route transitions from asphalt to a gravel road with egg-sized, sharp, pointy rocks. It will take a long, long time before I could adapt to that. If ever. That's what VFFs and sandals are for.

        "Able to function despite imminent catastrophe"

         "To obtain the air that angels breathe you must come to Tahoe"--Mark Twain

        "The most common question from potential entrants is 'I do not know if I can do this' to which I usually answer, 'that's the whole point'.--Paul Charteris, Tarawera Ultramarathon RD.


        √ Javelina Jundred Jalloween 2015

        Cruel Jewel 50 mile May 2016

        Western States 100 June 2016

          Right. Jagged rocks = bad stuff.  But what about just, say, loose pea-size pebbles, or those diamond cut concrete patches on corner wheelchair ramps?  How tough are your feet and what can they handle? 


          Thanks for the responses! Smile

            Small rocks of all kind hurt for me.  Obviously the rough edged gravel is more painful than the pea gravel.  Usually the pea gravel is not that thick, so there's not much give.



            The only things I'll run barefoot on are: sidewalk, road, packed trails.  I've done some running on wood chips, and it's doable, but not very enjoyable.


            For all else, I'd rather have VFF on.

            Creator of RunForth@robraux |


            Barefoot and happy

              Rough & broken concrete is quite comfortable.  I used to dread patches of it, but now it's actually a nice change from the smoother stuff.  Pea-sized gravel and smaller is easy, especially if it's on top of dirt.  I can hit a good 10k race pace on gravel+dirt trails now.  Bigger stuff, it depends on how sharp.  Crushed stone is bad.  Natural New England stone trails are not so bad.  Scattered gravel on top of pavement is mildly challenging -- it still takes me a conscious effort to stay relaxed and not tense up.  Random tiny stones that you seem to hit every five or ten steps -- I stopped noticing those.

              Tough soles matter, but they're only part of the picture.  Technique matters just as much, if not more.  And that includes being psychologically comfortable/confident enough to stay soft and relaxed.  When you're relaxed, your feet can do their thing and adapt to the terrain. 
              Curious about running barefoot? Visit the new barefoot running group.

              Queen of 3rd Place

                Yesterday I ran in LA along the Santa Monica bike path at the beach. Did several miles and wanted to finish up with a mile or two of barefoot running.


                The bike path is nice, smooth concrete, it looked lovely! Turns out there was just enough sand so that suddenly, just half a mile in, I was in a lot of pain. I hobbled back to the car, by the time I was done I had several blisters, a couple of which had opened up! Owie!


                Ex runner


                  I started VFF running about 4 weeks ago (after almost 30 years of traditional).  Of course I did too much too soon, and seized up by calf muscles for a few days (thought I had shin splints) but kept running, and soon the stiffness went away.  Those pesky random sharp rocks on top of concrete about did me in last week, I took a couple of days off and iced the balls of my feet (which was okay 'cuz I caught my kids' "back to school cold").  I started back in late last week.   The balls of my feet are still a little tender, but I've noticed what at first I took for inflamation, but now I'm wondering if I'm developing some sort of callous deep under the skin, or am I seriously injuring myself.  Anyone have any ideas?