Metro Boston Barefoot Runners workshop…works!

About twenty people gathered at the First Congregational Church in Harvard Square on the first day of Spring…and a steller one it was, so ultimately we migrated over to the Cambridge Green.  These workshops are a great start for new runners and the group seems a fun cohort for experienced runners.

I’m not shy about being barefoot and not a church guy, but I have to confess it felt a little funny walking into a church without shoes. That went away quickly as I was greeted by Jim, one of the organizers, into a group of ten others in a large gym-like room. It wasall, mostly middle-aged, white guys when I arrived, but the demographics broadened by the time we started.

We kicked it off when Preston, the main organizer of the MBBR, arrived. We all introduced ourselves to kick things off. Most everyone was from the greater Boston metro area, but shockingly some folks had come from as far as southern NY and northern NH. (More shockingly, Mike from NH turns out to be a guy I know but haven’t seen in a decade.) Evidently there were to have been four college students from Ohio who had to bag at the last minute. Is barefoot running really so sparse? Evidently so. Preston, a disciple of Barefoot Ken Bob’s, has been at this for 13 years believes he’s literally the only barefoot runner in Essex County.

As detailed in my previous blog, we were also join by Dan Lieberman. After some fascinating discussion with him, we engaged in a series of getting-started exercises inside and then continued on the Cambridge Green.  And then of course we did some running.

Frankly, a lot of the discussion and exercises were fairly rudimentary. There wasn’t a lot that you can’t find on the web. At the same time, the ability to interact with cohorts and to get some experienced eyes assessing your stride is very valuable. Barefoot Ken Bob has advised me to make sure I’m bending my knees, but hearing that from Preston (who “studied under” Ken Bob) after watched me take a lap around the Lincoln statue, really made it stick. It’s also really useful to interact with compare notes with others at similar stages in the transition. My Achilles issues aren’t just me.

There was an unanticipated support group aspect to the whole event. I gather many people are reluctant to run shoeless due social stigma, self-consciousness and (what Preston calls) a mind over matter issue. People have a hard time believing that their soles can really handle asphalt over a significant distance. I’m less sensitive (emotionally and on my soles) but Preston addressed it and clearly some folks appreciated.

The MBBR organizers are to be commended to their efforts. For Preston, Jim and Jeff‘s only agenda seems to be helping others learn to and be comfortable with shoeless running. Preston battles in from Gloucester and Jim from Carlisle. They are prepared, earnest and supportive.  It really seems like a labor of love. Thanks, guys.

Explore posts in the same categories: Barefoot Running, Experience, Other Runners

2 Comments on “Metro Boston Barefoot Runners workshop…works!”

  1. Robert William Hadley Says:

    Dear BFT Phil,
    I love your site! I really wish I could have met you last weekend, I am the head of the collegiate crew from Ohio, and the motivation for trying to get them all to go too! I am 20 years old and love to run barefoot, but more important, I love the thrill of self-discovery and over-analyzing which I have found is generally a common trait amongst other bft runners. It is a great community to be a part of! Once I get my license in Architecture I’m going to integrate sweet barefoot environments into my designs! I know that is somewhere down the road for me, maybe after I run with some Kenyans and Aborigines! Are you a member of the Bft Runners Society?

  2. Phil Odence Says:

    Thanks, Robert. I really appreciate the thoughts. Stay tuned and keep commenting.
    I am on the BRS mailing list; I think that makes me a member.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: