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Alien toes and barefoot running

Posted by Elizabeth Comeau  January 13, 2014 07:22 PM

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"You're not a real runner if you wear those things," the guy running down the hill on my early morning training run a day ago said to me.

I just smiled, waved and said "watch the ice patch at the bottom."

I blame my mother.

I inherited my mother's feet -- small, wide, and prone to bone spurs sticking out at the base of my big toes as if they were a small country trying to claim freedom from the rest of my foot.

These giant bulbs of bone on the sides of my feet have always given me trouble: I can't shop for cute shoes without wanting to cry, and in my figure skating days I'd wear a thin spot in the place in my boot those spurs rubbed against.

Because of this, finding a pair of running shoes that don't give me problems was a huge chore when I first started out.

I tried every shoe under the sun: Ones for runners with wide feet with a lot of cushion, ones with less cushion but a wider toe box... you name it, I tired it.

Ultimately, I landed on Vibrams -- you know those Five Finger toe shoes people either love or hate or love to hate.

I get plenty of funny looks while running. I get asked questions about them all the time. And that nasty comment I mentioned above is not the only nasty comment I've gotten about my choice in footwear.

My shoes are a hot button topic.

So let me go on the record right now and say this: There are those who firmly believe in barefoot running, and those who firmly believe that barefoot running is a terrible idea.

I am one of those people who, instead of arguing one way or the other lives by the motto: If the shoe fits.

My shoes keep my feet happy, therefore, they make me happy.

I don't care if you run barefoot, or in the newest latest greatest gel-soled sneaker on the planet. I don't care if you run in a pink tutu and bow tie or in a singlet and shorts: Just do what makes you happy and keeps you active.

You're totally allowed to tease me about my choice of shoes and attire, just know that I will get to where I am going not because of my shoes or my feet.

My iron will is stronger than my bone spurs.

Staying fit is an important part of staying healthy. This blog will offer exercise tips from experts as well as share the personal journeys of Globe staff members committed to fitness. No matter your age or energy level, we invite you to join in and share your own story. How do you find time to work out? What are your daily challenges? Let us know and read along -- and together, we can all get moving.


Elizabeth Comeau is a social media marketing manager at She will be blogging about her personal fitness journey and using a device called a FitBit to track her weekly goals and progress (see below). Follow her journey and share your own. Read more about Elizabeth and this blog.

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