by unshodashish on November 13, 2012

I get lots of questions about stepping on splinters. That’s no surprise.

In a given day, most shoe wearers don’t step on a splinter, so “not stepping on a splinter” is the expected condition, and any deviation seems significant, noteworthy, scary. (And, truth be told, I do get a splinter in my foot, probably two or three times a year. I can’t remember the last time it happened … which probably means I’m due. I’ve been picking up a lot of trash lately – the kids and rummies are out in force.)

What I don’t get, that most shod runners do “expect,” is any of: smelly feet, banged-up toenails, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and IT Band Syndrome. I also expect to keep running until the day I keel over. I do not expect to ever be “too old to run.” If you’ve read Born to Run, you know that we have evolved to run after our food – to stop running is to die.

And yet, this idea of being “too old to run” has entrenched itself in our modern collective consciousness. So when shod runners suffer shin splints, back pain, or ITBS (as I did), rather than look for a remedy, they believe that their time has come- because that’s what they expected. The promise of injury-free barefoot running might sound nice, and a few of the truly motivated might give it a try, but for most … being permanently injured matches their prior expectation, so they feel fine about abandoning their true love and moving on to biking, swimming, or outright couch-potatohood.

How sad to be limited from achieving our potential, not from any physical constraint, but from false expectations.

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