I have a love/hate relationship with sidewalks.

The Love
Most concrete sidewalks are as smooth as a baby’s bottom when compared to aged asphalt. A starting barefooter or transitioning minimalist can run 2 to 3 times further on a sidewalk than they can on the asphalt. A stretch of concrete sidewalk next to brambly asphalt can be like rubbing velvet across your skin after wearing a 100% wool sweater all day with nothing underneath. Yes, it’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

As a straight up runner, shoes or not, I like using sidewalks. I used to run on the road along the river but I constantly worried about the half awake drivers cruising by. Sometimes, a good musical beat pushes me through a long run. On sidewalks, I can turn up that volume as much as my old ears can handle. The volume is needed to drown out the mental walls being built in my head. On the road, I keep that volume low enough to hear my own footsteps. I feel less vulnerable on a sidewalk.

The Hate
After such glowing praise for sidewalks, how could I have any hate? Well, it appears that 9 out of 10 people in my town don’t sweep or blow their sidewalks, ever. Most debris on the sidewalks are whirlybirds or sticks. Those aren’t much of an issue but, the stones are plenty enough of an issue. I’m fairly certain cars push stones and rocks off the road because it’s pretty rare that I encounter one. Washouts from dirt or stone driveways are even worse, creating an entire section that makes rough asphalt look like satin. I am regularly tempted to carry a whisk broom with me to clean the sidewalks at least until the next rainfall.

What’s worse that decaying asphalt? A decaying sidewalk, that’s what. I’m not sure if it’s because of the stones that seem to emerge from decaying sidewalks or the stark contrast in the coarseness within one tiny square of concrete. It’s as though my feet don’t which terms to use in the feedback to my brain.
“it’s smooth..oiw except that 1 inch circle that was bumpy, choppy and jagged” “Oiw, same thing on the other side, plus an escaping stone!”

Thus, my brain is unable to resolve how to step onto decaying sidewalk. This is particularly hard to accept as my eyes see the decaying sidewalk approaching, yet, the brain doesn’t seem to develop a decent strategy in time.

You know what else? 100% of the broken glass I’ve encountered was on a sidewalk not a road. This is minor as I’ve never been cut, that I know of, but sidewalks are always where I find it.

That was a drawn out way of saying I had a great barefooted 3+ miles run on a mixture of roads and sidewalks this morning. 100% bare today! I only stepped on one stone the whole time. Time flew by and I hit my turn around point before I was ready. This summer is looking Smiley!


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Filed under Barefoot, running

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