This past week, I decided to run up to the top and back down one of the ski hills at Blue Mountain resort in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada – barefoot, of course!! Virtually all of you would ask “why in God’s name would ANYONE do THAT??” To which I would reply “why not??”.
Truthfully, it doesn’t make much sense but, then again, not much I do in the realm of barefoot running makes sense to the majority of people. In my scrambled mind, running up and down hills/mountains barefoot is a physical, mental and emotional challenge that defies most other physical pursuits. Thus, when in Collingwood on business, I got up early one morning and ran out to the base of one of the ski hills. My goals were to run to the very top (I quickly realized that the hill I chose had 5 levels of grade to it)and immediately descend to the bottom…hopefully making it in one piece!Doing the whole run barefoot only added to the challenge. I had already done my Health Bridges and Functional Chain Trainer unlocking drills – thus, I was well prepared to attack Blue Mountain.Upon starting the climb, I quickly realized that the grass is NEVER cut on the side of a mountain…NO KIDDING!! Also, I forgot how many wild thorns grow on a mountain. It had been a few years since my last ski hill running excursion. About 5 minutes into this, I realized why it had been a few years between attempts. My heart and lung systems were working overtime and my whole extensor chain of muscles was screaming for mercy! I did not DARE look up – knowing that the sight of yet another level of climbing would crush my spirit. Thus, I soldiered on – keeping my barefeet under my hips and my upper body leaning up the hill from the hips. Oh, did I mention that it had been raining in Collingwood for the past 4 days – leaving the mountain a rather muddy, slippery mess. After 17 minutes, I crested the top of the mountain and paused briefly to enjoy the spectacular vista. Then, I started the run down…again, I had forgotten how difficult it is to run straight down the side of a mountain. The ultra long grass grabbed my feet, ankles and lower legs – making a simple downward running action virtually impossible. I had to pull up powerfully from the hips with each stride just to avoid plunging head-over-heels down the mountainside. Compound that with the mud ponds, thistle weeds and rocks, running straight downhill was out of the question. Oh, did I mention that I was barefoot??
Of course, as I made it to the third section of the downhill, I simply HAD to attempt going straight down. About 50 metres into this, the grass grabbed my feet and threw me face-first into the mountain. My neck and back snapped back, my left shoulder got ripped back, my elbow, shins and hands were bleeding slightly BUT I bounded back up to my feet and continued on. Maybe it was the shock or maybe it was the relief of knowing I could move all of my limbs BUT on I went to the bottom (with 2 or 3 other minor full body slides!) in a total of 3 minutes!The exhilarating feeling afterwards is hard to describe. You won’t understand UNLESS you have done this. Beyond the physical pain in virtually all parts of my body, I was able to move under control for the rest of the day…AND run 9 kilometres barefoot at home the next morning! It proved to me that at age 63, it IS possible to do what seems impossible to many my age and younger. It also proves that if you condition your body to be fully activated, balanced, unlocked and braced against gravity, you can accomplish virtually anything you set your mind to. Indeed, I had accomplished BOTH of my goals laid out above.
I am NOT saying “go out there and through yourself up and down mountainsides – barefoot”. I AM saying BELIEVE you CAN do what seems impossible…and go out to ACHIEVE it – BAREFOOT, of course!