Most of you are not prepared. That is understandable. And then, there is the aspect of “is it polite to talk about?” I mean, do you go by a person that you don’t know who, say, isn’t wearing sunglasses and tell them, “Hey, you forgot your sunglasses!” Not usually. If it is something a little more on the edge culturally, like a tatoo across the forehead, you might just walk a little faster. A few people see bare feet in that light.
There are, however, things you should and shouldn’t say to a barefoot runner. Sure, it depends some on your motives and goals. Do you want to know why they look so happy? Do you want to prove how clever you are? Or, maybe, you just don’t understand or want to be friendly.
I suggest to you, that if you think of something quick and snappy, a barefoot runner has heard it before. That is not always bad. It can be like general conversation while mingling. Everyone goes around asking each other the same questions or commenting on how nice they look. Possible answers will generally be given with a kind smile.
- You forgot your shoes! Possible answer: You mean those torture devices?
- Can’t you afford shoes? Possible answer: Can’t afford knee surgery!
- That’s hard core! Possible answer: No, it’s actually quite a bit nicer than your foot wrapping rituals.
- Watch out for glass! Possible answer: Watch out for rocks! It’s so easy to twist your ankle in those stiff, elevated contraptions!
There are those who are genuinely concerned about a barefoot runner’s well-being. If you are one of those folks, rest assured that we are not performing some penance. Barefoot running is fun.
- Does it hurt? (as you look for the blood) Probable answer: No, I’ve practiced doing it right.
- Don’t you get infections? (looking for signs of disease) Probable answer: No, most of the germs are inside the shoes.
- Aren’t your feet hot/cold? Probable answer: No, my feet love the fresh air!
Some people are determined to be rude and irritated. You are probably not one of them. For some reason, such people see bare feet as a threat to civilized society. If you know any of those people, they are likely mad about many more things than bare feet. Bare feet are just another reason to complain or make rules to force people to act they way they want.
- You’re an idiot! Likely response: (left intentionally blank)
- What are you trying to prove? Likely response: (smile patronizingly, then roll eyes after passing by)
- You are not allowed here. Likely response: (take your business elsewhere or put on some sandals, depending on priorities of the moment)
When someone really is interested in the appeal of going bare footed, it can be hard to give complete answers while running, so please keep that in mind. I have thought about keeping business cards in my hip bag, to pass out as I go by folks. If you want to ask questions, consider running along side for a few moments. Most barefoot runners would love to share the joy of what they are experiencing.
If you come to the conversation ready to question the marketing and fashion trends that have influenced so much about footwear, then you will intuitively figure out a few things. Begin by thinking about how a foot is trying to work and how a shoe keeps it from doing that. Think about how any body part gets weak when in traction. Then, you can just ask the bare footed person about things he or she has learned as they have been adjusting to this obviously healthy lifestyle.
- How long have you been running barefoot? (variable answers)
- What changes have you noticed in your feet along the way? (greater toe spread, feet stronger, greater balance, less affected by extreme temperatures…)
- What do you need to be careful of with bare feet? (pretty much all the normal things; it’s always good to watch where I’m going and not push physical efforts too hard too fast)
- Have you ever been hurt because of being barefoot? (not any more than I hurt myself in general and usually not as badly)
- Are there times when you wear shoes? (when it is required and unavoidable, when it is extremely hot or cold, when I can’t see the ground)
It will take more than 2 minutes to go into details about all the muscles, particular advice about gradually going barefooted more, or how many different activities really can be done with bare feet. It might take, like, 5 minutes. Or as long as you have. There are a lot of myths to put to rest about bare feet. It can be like your mother telling you, “I can’t go around telling you all the things that do or don’t make sense. Use your brain.” But in 2 minutes, a person can find out about the basics.