Bare feet in Hong Kong

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I grew up in the country, on the outskirts of a small town in Queensland Australia. It's only natural that I grew up running around the farm and countryside without shoes.

Skip forward 30 years and here I am in Hong Kong, still living in a 'country' area and still preferring to not wear shoes when possible; and getting lots of strange looks and questions when people notice. City people simply don't understand, and they usually have misconceptions about barefoot walking and running.

I've been taking my dogs for walks without wearing shoes for the last 4 years. Now that I think of it, my barefoot walking/running didn't really begin until my wife and I moved to this area of Hong Kong and began raising dogs 4 years ago. Rain or shine, I would always walk my dogs without wearing shoes, even at night while walking a track through a small bush area on the edge of our village. So you could say that I've been conditioning my feet for the last 4 years.

A couple of weeks ago, I went for my first run. I haven't run for several years so I'm basically beginning again from scratch. I chose a road near home which slopes down to a recreation area next to the ocean. I ran down and back again, taking it easy with the clear understanding that my feet weren't ready for a full-on run.

That night, I had four blisters on one foot and three on the other. Rather than puncture them, I let them be hoping that they'd go away on their own. Unfortunately, one of the blisters was just behind the first and second toes and it was irritated every time I wore my Birkenstock sandals (incredible shoes to wear, even for a barefooter). In the end, I had to puncture it with a needle and release as much fluid as possible.

A week later with the blisters still present but drier, I went for another run, this time a little shorter than the first run. Since most of the blisters were on my toes, I focussed on trying to keep my toes off the road while running. It seemed to work because at the end of the run, my feet were ok with very little damage. In fact, I suspect that the skin of the drying blisters helped to protect my feet. It's also one of the reasons that I decided to run before the blisters had completely healed. That night, I did have to release fluid from a couple of the blisters.

For the last three days, I've run every day. Running a short steady 20 minute run was a good decision. It's long enough to help condition my muscles, joints and feet but short enough to not cause damage or discourage me from running again. For years, I ran too hard and I always dreaded the next run a little because I knew it was going to be hard. Hopefully, that won't happen this time.

I plan to run this short run for the next three weeks and then extend it a little. With some persistence and patience, I'll be able to run longer distances comfortably and enjoyably before year end.

Today, the weather turned wet and cold again with a constant drizzle. The first few minutes of my run were very chilling but I warmed up and was fine for the rest of the run. My most recent runs have been very reminiscent of my life and runs in Katoomba, Blue Mountains (if that link doesn't work; Katoomba City Council). It's been fun.

I'm cynical by nature and one of the establishments I distrust are the sport shoe manufacturers. They've been selling us bad advice and shoes for a long time. Barefoot running is so much safer and better than running with shoes. Unfortunately, people without a barefoot childhood will find it extremely difficult to adjust to barefoot walking and running.

If you're interested in learning more about barefoot running, one of my favourite sites on the subject is Running Barefoot. From personal experience, I can testify that most if not all of the information about barefoot running on the site is true.

More next time including the advantages of walking and running barefoot.


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5 Responses to “Bare feet in Hong Kong”
  1. yinyin says:

    I just reading this article which I found very interesting. Like I grow up in guanzhou and I immigrated to Australia when I was ten. Bare foot walking or running it is quite impossible for me. Firstly, my mother is quite traditional women and she thinks that smell feet for girls is bigger. Luckily that bonding foot practice of banded otherwise I would be the first victim. And secondly, how could you walk or run barefoot in a city that is flooded with rubbish these may including nails, needles? However, when I came to Sydney, the lifestyle changed. Like I goes to a quite big school and there were two fields of grass land and every time during lunch time, my friends and I will always play around like crazy monkey (that is what my computing teacher describe) of course bare footed because my friends and I have to wear these black leather close shoes with school, for protective reasons.
    But after a while I found, that bare foot walking or running is very interesting and fun, But you don’t have limits on you. You feel the ground, the heat of the ground after the showering of the sun, the morning dews on the grass. It is a very good experience! Even though I still have to wear shoes in family meetings like bbq at the Homebush Park. But any way, enough my muttering…. Sorry for flooding your blog…..^_^
    Hey this post was written in march, so did u keep up your 20minutes exercise daily? This take lots of patience and persistence. When I in junior years at high school, I always ride my bike for half hours a day and now I gave up due to lazyness which I think is the human’s natural behavior
    Any way cya….
    Got to vanish to do my hw… (T.T)
    Cya Regards Yin ^_^>.

  2. yinyin says:

    sorry few typo. that bigger suppose to be better.
    That but suppose to be because in line 10....
    So sorry for not checking my comments for typos......
    I will do that from now on... Sorry

  3. ml. says:

    hey, thanks for the telling us about the benefits of of running barefoot. :)

    your blog entries are very interesting. i really admire you for living your life just the way you wnat and not care about how others might think of you. and i can tell from your blog that you're a geniunely nice and happy person that's quite content with life. i have a lot to learn from you! i'm an average honger who's obsessed with building a good career, and whines and complains all the time.

    keep us posted with your latest project!

  4. unci says:

    Thank you, Gregory! You're inspiring me to try going barefoot in Hongkong myself.

  5. F Wong says:

    I am a barefoot runner in Hong Kong, I can do 8 km at most in one go. Nice to meet you and maybe we can try barefoot running sometime!