The Perils of Barefoot Naked Running

The more I run naked the more information I collect. The more I observe. The more I’m mindful of. While the ecstasy underlying the feeling of running naked is still present, it shares space with other sensations. With more experience under my non-existent belt I start to observe what else is going on. Here are some of those observations.

Blisters
Barefoot running on sand is delicious. Each time I set off on warm damp sand I burst into laughter from the pleasure. However, I have learned that all sand was not created equal! Some sand is soft and supple; some sand is packed hard like concrete; some sand is as sharp as glass.
Generally my feet cope well with one 5k barefoot run on sand per day. Exceed that threshold and blisters begin to appear. In the most unlikely of locations, for example: the centre of the big toe. This spot must be key to some aspect of balance or directional control and, therefore experiences added pressure.

Twisted Knee/Ankle
No beach is perfectly flat. There is always some amount of slope, whether it is apparent to the eye or not. Some beaches are steeply inclined. In either case, extreme or subtle, the legs are never hitting the ground at the same distance from the hip: One leg is always uphill from the other. This puts much more pressure of impact and articulation on the uphill leg, resulting in twisting of the knee.
On 90% of beaches this is noticeable but has no lasting impact. On very steeply inclined beaches, it can cause knee soreness lasting a few days. The key is to run equal distances in both directions so both knees act as the uphill knee for an equal duration.
Beach sloping is visible in most of my naked running videos.

Scrotum Chaffing
The most surprising and painful of all of the ailments, however, was really debilitating. This is the only one I’ll avoid at all costs.
Running naked is not painful. But once I ran for about 4k and then went for a swim in the sea. No problem. Lovely.
Then I decided to keep running. What happened next can only be described as someone scraping my ball sack with coarse sandpaper. This had never happened before!
What I quickly realised is that the very salty water of the Atlantic Ocean (with, very likely, quite a bit of sand) was being rubbed into my scrotum by my thighs. Sweat never caused this problem… Salty, sandy sea water did. Never ever swim in the sea before running naked. Never. Only swim when you are certain that you have finished running!

Sunscreen Allergy or Sunburn
I’ve known for years that I have a mild allergy to sunscreen lotion when it gets in my eyes. Having adjusted accordingly, I didn’t anticipate the sweat induced by running diluting the lotion on my forehead and having it seep into my eyes. Ouch. Will I finally have to adopt a hat? I hate hats.

… and some unexpected benefits:

1. Serious extraordinary exfoliation of the feet
2. Improved running technique on the balls of my feet with strengthened calf and – especially – shin muscles.
3. Lower expenditure on running gear!
4. A new respect for the complexity of the bones and muscles of the foot.

Each of these benefits will be the subject of future posts.

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