When I started running barefoot I read some books about it and joined a Facebook group and all of that. After all, I was making the change because I heard that it might help the injuries I had and I wanted to be sure I was giving it a fair chance by at least trying to do it right.
All the questions that could be asked and one of the first I asked the Facebook group was um, are my feet going to get all gross and dirty and calloused? I’m not exactly fashion conscious or anything (kind of an area I slack in) but I’ve seen people with skin that looked as if it had been grown with dirt as a natural part of it, and sorry but it’s kind of gross.
Now that I have a whole 9 months experience I can answer my own question, at least for me. I run 3 nights a week and I don’t run further than a 5k ever, and rarely that far. So I don’t know if there is a difference if you run barefoot marathons or ultras (ya, there are some really, really bad-ass people who do that).
The answer is no. My feet didn’t get permanently dirty and they didn’t get calloused. As a matter of fact the skin is softer and smoother now than it used to be. I think it’s for two reasons.
One, I mostly run in the neighborhood and I think the asphalt acts kind of like a pumice stone, smoothing out the skin. I had almost expected my skin to get thinner as a result, but again I was wrong. My skin actually seems to be a little thicker. The bottoms of my feet also seem to have a bit of padding or muscle on them that wasn’t there before. Kind of a plus actually.
I think the other reason is because running on asphalt actually is a bit gross. When I get home my feet are black as tar and I washing them with soap doesn’t do much. I have to actually use a pumice stone after every street run. I don’t scrub them hard or anything, but I do use it. Maybe that’s why the little cracks that I used to have on my heals are gone now.
So question and answer. Won’t running barefoot make your feet gross? Nope, it’ll leave them better than they were before!