Fitness: noun, /ˈfitnəs/:
- the condition of being physically fit and healthy.
- the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task.
- an organism’s ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.
I have many roles and tasks in my life. Husband, father, engineer, athlete, coach. Each of these requires me to show fitness. Fitness is much more than the physical condition of our body: it is the result of our preparation, readiness, and execution. Read the definitions again and go deeper.
Do you see how fitness requires preparation? The words “physically fit” and “heelthy” are used. We can only be these things if we prepare.
Do you see how fitness requires execution? The words suitable and survive are used. We can only be suitable and survive if we make it through.
I took up barefoot running a couple years ago and I learned taking this on is an example of putting yourself in to a state of fitness for barefoot running. I grew up learning to run with the common running technique that has me land on my heel first and the pad second. Barefoot running requires that I land on the pad first, then land the heel second. To start barefoot running, to become fit for barefoot running for any duration, I had to work up it.
How to Get Started
Let me back up for a minute. The first thing I had to do wasn’t to land the pad of my foot first. The very first step was to learn about barefoot running and why people do it. If I had’t learned that other people do it, it never would have crossed my mind. I learned that it is far easier on the joints and tendons and bones and that apparently our feet are well designed to land pad first and poorly designed for heel first.
I learned that tribes in Mexico who have only recently had contact from “civilized” societies, tribes that crush the competition in long distance foot races, use the barefoot technique.
This is what brought me to the idea that I could try barefoot running. This was the preparation that brought me to the state of inspiration.
Barefoot Running Takes Action
I took that moment of inspiration and made it into something. The next time I was running I went 26 steps by landing on the pads of my feet first (I am a fan of the number 25 but it is odd and I’m a biped so I generally go with 26). Each time I found myself running I incorporated some barefoot steps.
After a couple weeks I could feel my calves complaining. After another week or two I noticed, oddly, that I was tying my shoes more loosely, or rather, that I wasn’t pulling as much lace when tying my shoes… my feet were gaining strength and size. After another few weeks I noticed that I could go farther and farther.
Along the way there were plenty of times where it was so much easier to heel run, and I did. I’d be sore and just decide not to barefoot that day. Other times I would be mid-run and give in to the fatigue or pain.
Over about three months I practiced and put myself in to a position to be a barefoot runner. Finally, I went on a 3 mile run committed to taking every step with a pad-landing, and I did.
Since that time barefoot running and I have had some starts and stops because, well, that’s life. What I can see now is that my journey to being a barefoot runner is just like every other journey I’ve put myself on. It’s a journey of fitness. A story about preparation and work before achievement.
Barefoot Running is Life
In the last five years I’ve been blessed to watch my two children learn to walk and run. On that journey I’ve personally seen them fall perhaps a thousand times. It regularly causes me to pause and consider why they work so hard and suffer so darn much to achieve the status of “walking” and “running”. It all comes back to being inspired, to taking action, and to continuing until you’ve achieved fitness as a walker, a running, or a barefoot runner.
Now, come to the edge with me for a minute and look out over the land…
I’m not talking about barefoot running. I’m talking about life. If you look out over the land and see something new or different for yourself. All you have to do become fit for it is to be inspired, to take action, and to do it every single day a little more until you have achieved it.