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June 10, 2010

Barefoot babe: Angie Bishop after running 14 miles shoe-free

On our RLAM tour, Dimity and I have fielded many questions about the ever-more-popular practice of running barefoot. As shoe-wearers, we can’t offer any first-hand insight, so we turned to Angie Bishop, 33, a mom of four in Des Moines who shucked her shoes a year ago. She’s been setting personal bests in races ever since.

Started running barefoot: Last year I had horrible shin splints and lower back pain that plagued me daily, and I could not get over 18 miles a week. There was no way I could buy yet another pair of shoes hoping they would be the magic fix to what I later learned was very poor running form. My wonderful husband, who is not a runner, suggested I try running barefoot. I thought he was bat-sh!t crazy and needed to butt out. He then came across the book Born to Run and suggested I read it and then try running barefoot. I learned, once again, I should listen to him and give his ideas a shot without butting heads with him since it has been a year of successful running with PR’s at all distances that I ran shod. I started from scratch at 1/2-mile increments and gradually worked up to the half marathon distance in four months. The farthest I have run barefoot was a 23.25 mile training run a couple of weeks ago. I am planning to run the Des Moines Marathon barefoot in the fall!

I miss running shoes like I miss: having my wisdom teeth taken out!! I don’t think barefoot running will cure all ills, but for me it means I can run again and, so far, as much as I want. I put in the work to learn proper form for my body.

To me, P90X is: a great tool for most people. After doing if for five weeks, I have learned what I am going to take (e.g. Ab Ripper, Chest and Back, Plyometrics, and Yoga) and what I leave behind. I love the structure of the programs since I am horrible at structuring my own time.

I think my feet are quite pretty. As a kid, when I was barefoot, I liked my feet. But after joining the working world and being on those feet for long shifts waiting tables or having them crammed in all kinds of shoe, they became rough and calloused. The difference now is my feet breathe and my toes spread out. When I run, the road acts as a pumice stone, and the soles of my feet are soft and not calloused at all any more. If they are dry, I just put on some virgin coconut oil and spa socks overnight and they are soft again the next morning. I take better care of the appearance now and do my nails more often.

My son with autism: has taught me so much about myself. Autism hit us like a freight train. Jupiter, now 8 years old, was diagnosed with autism at age 3, although he stopped talking and lost all eye contact a little before he turned 2. It has been a long and heart-wrenching journey, which included packing up the three boys while pregnant with my youngest and moving from Kansas to Des Moines, hoping to get better services for him. I have learned from Jupiter to celebrate the little accomplishments and to cherish the things in life that come easy. He is starting a remedial program at a local autism therapy center, which we have been waiting to get into for two years. Jupiter has a busy summer planned with day camp and summer school, so please think happy thoughts for him.

I rocked a faux-hawk because: I was in a rut. I felt old, lonely, and beaten down. I remember the exact moment I decided to do it. I was pulling into my driveway and thought, “I want a mohawk,” and a week later it was purple and gorgeously punk! A few months later, I shaved all my hair off, not once but twice. It was liberating and fun and sometimes I just can’t help myself. I don’t try to do fringe things but it just sort of works out that I am happiest dancing to the beat of my own drum…barefoot, of course!

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Angie and her four "spawn" (her word, not ours!) at the zoo

11 Comments leave one →
  1. June 10, 2010 10:57 am

    Great post! I think every runner NEEDS to read Born to Run. I have not been brave enough to ditch my shoes, but I plan to…eventually…

  2. June 10, 2010 11:22 am

    I love most of all reading about triumphs and Angie, you are totally triumphant! I have two special needs daughters (born profoundly deaf) and I totally get what you mean about the seemingly small accomplishments. They aren’t small at all in my book, most are hard-fought. Running barefoot? Rock ON. I shucked my shoes at the end of a training run about a year ago, but I put them back on “right-quick”!!! Ouch. Anywho, great post…

  3. June 10, 2010 11:26 am

    What an inspirational mom and runner!! Moms with kids with special needs are made extra special.

  4. corrine bell permalink
    June 10, 2010 11:38 am

    I like her wish I was a little more daring like her. Thanks for sharing her with us!

  5. Kelly permalink
    June 10, 2010 12:04 pm

    Just finishng ‘Born to Run’ and I am intrigued by the barefoot running — especially since I have been fighting plantar fascitiis.
    Great story!

  6. June 10, 2010 12:23 pm

    Angie is such a nice person and an inspiring runner and mother! The kids and I all go barefoot after my runs (still not brave enough for distance barefoot). I love the cool down of a mile done sans shoes with my kiddos! All thanks to Angie Bee!

  7. June 10, 2010 12:47 pm

    Go Angie Bee! She is one of the sweetest bloggers out there. So glad to see her here!

  8. June 10, 2010 1:37 pm

    I love Angie. She’s very encouraging. And you should try running barefoot. I have tried it a few times on the treadmill when my feet get really hot. I like it. I probably won’t be running outside like that anytime soon (I’m such a wuss) but it’s a great alternative for me.

  9. June 10, 2010 4:31 pm

    I love Angie B, she makes barefoot running sound very tempting don’t know if I will ever be brave enough to try but if I do it will be because of her amazing blog. 🙂

  10. June 10, 2010 9:33 pm

    Yay! Love her. Glad to see her here. 🙂

  11. Barb permalink
    June 16, 2010 9:23 pm

    Wow… oh, WoW! What an inspiring post! I love that Angie has found what works for her (how brave to try barefoot running!), and I love the bit about celebrating the little accomplishments of her special needs son (I have a son with Asperger Syndrome). I will think very good thoughts for them as Jupiter starts day camp and summer school. 🙂

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