Thoughts on health, happiness and sustainability

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Finding my feet again

Over the past year and particularly over the recent winter, I have been working long hours, burning myself out and struggling to find time to exercise enough. Don’t get me wrong I’m still very fit by average standards but far below the level that I would feel is optimal.

The thing that has been bothering me is not so much that I am doing less running, but that I’m feeling bored of running. I struggle to motivate myself to go for a run and then when I do go running it feels like a bit of a chore, despite the beautiful landscape in which I live here in the New Forest.

But last night something changed. I got my mojo back! I went for a run out on the heath and soon after I started I asked myself “why are you wearing shoes?”

“They are not shoes, they’re barefoot sandals” I told myself.

And then it hit me. Minimalist shoes like Luna Sandals and Vivo’s are fantastic, but they are not a substitute for the real thing. It doesn’t matter how minimalist your shoe is, it will always separate you from the ground. After all that’s the point of a shoe! The best shoes in the world are the ones nature gave you – your feet.

My memory flashed back to when I rediscovered running in Australia a few years ago.  I discovered it through the experience of being barefoot, feeling the texture of the ground on my feet, stimulating the nerves in my soles and feeling free.

I loved being barefoot and it led me to enjoy running.  The more I ran barefoot, the more I wanted to run.  But circumstances meant that I couldn’t always run barefoot and had to wear footwear some of the time.  Gradually, the proportion of running that I was doing barefoot reduced and I forgot how important the barefoot element was for me.  I had sub-consciously convinced myself that it was running itself that I loved and that I could get the same benefit in terms of running technique and injury prevention by running with “barefoot” shoes or sandals.  I had forgotten that being truly barefoot was the thing that had given me the joy of running in the first place.

I returned from yesterday’s run have done a modest 4km cross country with bare feet but I was buzzing.  That buzz lasted all evening.  In fact I am still buzzing today and went for a run around St. James’s Park and Green Park in London as shown in the photo near the Queen’s house at the top of this post.

It taught me a valuable lesson not just about running, but about life in general. It is important to take time to stop and look back at why you started doing things you do, why you loved them and why you still do them. It is too easy in life to find yourself just going through the motions and losing the magic along the way.

So check in with yourself once in a while. Become conscious of what you’re doing in your life and why. Rediscover your true passions and embrace them.

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