It was an historical day last week when Sr. Maximilian and the kids from St. Charles officially started to experiment with barefoot running. Not to worry: they are proceeding slowly and carefully and they won’t ever be seen running through the streets of Rochester without shoes, lest they get cut by broken glass somewhere along their route. Except Sister Maximilian, that is. She might find she likes this barefoot experience so much that she invests in Vibram Fivefingers the way I did. Time will tell. When I return to New Hampshire in a few weeks I fully intend to tantalize her with mine.
Here is how it all got started: Sister has been as intrigued as I am about the barefoot running phenomenon in the running world. Last week, she decided to try an experiment with the kids. Our kids run 50 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week. On this historic day she decided to shorten the run by 5 minutes, and then at the end give the kids an opportunity to run barefoot in the yard. Kids who didn’t want to try barefoot running were welcome to run their final 5 minutes around our driveway: a track we often use in the winter when the sidewalks are not plowed.
No one chose that option, however. Everyone wanted to take their shoes off and run in the grass. The kids absolutely loved it, and Sister Maximilian admitted she enjoyed it too. Our yard is a large rectangle. One circle around the yard is roughly 1 tenth of a mile. We have great turf in that yard because of the irrigation system that keeps it well watered. As an aside, another group of athletes paid to renovate our yard about 10 years ago: a group of students from St. Anselm’s College who walk 100 miles each year in a program called “Road for Hope” to raise money for various charities.
The kids are now running barefoot for 5 minutes twice a week. Sister Maximilian will assess whether and when they are ready to increase the barefoot time. In the meantime, those 10 minutes a week sound like a lot of fun.