Barefoothiking has never caused the kind of controversy and acrimony that barefoot running has. Perhaps it’s because hiking doesn’t come so overloaded with notions about proper form and “performance.” People generally go hiking for recreation and sightseeing — any exercise or positive health effects hikers get are side benefits. Most runners participate in races of some kind, but hiking is less competitive — unless you get two diehard “peak baggers” on the same trail. (Count me out, man, I’d rather stop and smell the flowers.)
So barefoot hiking should be a lot like barefoot trail running — not so much about performance as about the experience. I thought I’d give it a try when my friend Ron Krull invited me to climb Mt. St. Helens late in the summer. The photos are by him unless otherwise noted. And a special note: FWIW here barefoot means actually barefoot. There is nothing wrong with minimal shoes — or any shoes you want — but, dude, it’s not the same thing.
I’ve done Mt. St. Helens before, so I knew what I was getting into. …more
Like I wrote in my last post, my fitness activity this year has mostly been Crossfit. And no question, Crossfit has been doing something. My pants are looser, and I have a much clearer idea of my strength and how to apply it, at least to rudimentary tasks. Recently at a party, I helped the hostess by picking up a nearly full beer keg (about 150 pounds) and moving it where she wanted — with no worries whatsoever that I was going to hurt myself.
[photo by twothirstycats (Flickr, Creative Commons)]
But at the same time I’ve been chucking beer kegs, I’ve been developing a nagging set of doubts about Crossfit, and thinking back wistfully on last year’s fitness quest (running 500 miles and 9 trail races barefoot), the way one might pine after a long-gone girlfriend. I miss that time alone on the trails, sometimes literally in the dark, feeling my way through the trees.
(Special note: when I say barefoot running, I mean actual barefoot running. Running in minimal shoes may be a fine thing, but it is not the same. Just take off your minimal shoes and you’ll see. ;) )
Crossfit criticisms and apologetics
Stay with that beer keg because it will reappear later. But for now know that my mixed feelings didn’t fit neatly into the most common critiques of Crossfit. …more
(Excuse the long intro — those dying for the interview please skip to the bottom of the post!)
I haven’t been doing much running lately, because in January I joined a gym. I thought I’d focus on Jiu-Jitsu, but I’ve ended up going mostly to Crossfit classes.
It’s a big change because Crossfit is so goal-oriented. Little could be less goal-oriented than the barefoot trail running I did last year. While yes, I did have goals for mileage and races completed, performance in minutes/mile was not really part of it. Barefoot running isn’t about acing races, it’s about the experience of running — feeling every grain of earth, hearing every bird, letting your body adapt itself to the environment.
This video captures the spirit of it. (And just in case you were wondering, it’s exactly what I would look like if I lost a few pounds, gained a few inches height, and went in for a full-body waxing. :) )
Meanwhile Crossfit is all about overwhelming numerical barriers. These girls are racing each other to finish this killer workout (check in on the struggles at about 7 minutes in):
There’s no question that the high-intensity workouts in Crossfit have been doing something for me — my pants are looser for sure.
It’s also one of the biggest trends in fitness. …more