As asphalt paving contractors in Tennessee, sometimes we think we have seen it all. That is, all the advantages – and sometimes the disadvantages of asphalt as a road surfacing.
But recently, we found out something that we didn’t know about asphalt. And that was that people love to run on it – barefoot!
Barefoot running has quite a history to it.
As you can imagine, once upon a time pretty much all running – and walking – in human history was upon bare feet. At the very least, humans wore what would be referred to as minimal footwear.
These would have been items such as thin-soled moccasins. These are still worn in some parts of the world, notably Africa and South America.
But today, they are also rising in popularity again amongst twenty-first century runners.
It is believed that the athletes in Ancient Greece ran barefoot and this tradition has continued to modern times.
In 1960, Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila ran in the Olympics completely barefoot – although it wasn’t planned! His shoes were too small for him and he decided to give running barefoot a try. He took gold – not bad for a first attempt!
Since then, other runners have competed barefoot, including South African sprinter Zola Budd.
The twenty-first century has seen a surge in people interested in running barefoot.
And what has surprised us the most is how many people are doing it on hard surfaces such as asphalt!
HOW TO RUN ON ASPHALT WITHOUT IT HURTING!
The first thing you will probably want to do is look for a nice and newly laid section of asphalt road. Or, at least, one that looks like it has been maintained properly.
Often barefoot runners say there is nothing they like more than running on a freshly constructed piece of asphalt paving – even better if there is a newly painted white line on it!
Other things to bear in mind when running on asphalt are;
- Don’t strike with your heel when you run. It’s going to hurt!
- Remember to bend your knees properly.
- Land nice and light. In your head, try to think about the moon landings. You need to pull up your feet and bend your knees, before they completely come back down onto the asphalt paving. This will lighten the impact it makes on your feet.
- Try not to hit or strike the asphalt under the foot as you come down. Think about lifting your feet from the paving instead, as it will be lighter.
- Practice running with a low impact. This means the ball of your foot should touch the pavement and not your heel. It should go ball of your foot, toes and then heel. If you really feel more comfortable, then you could land ball, heel and toes, but try and remember not to land on your heel.
- When you do land on your heel, you use your calves to soak up the shock of the landing. It should not contact with the ground for long, nor should it be hard.
A FEW NOTES ON BLISTERS
A lot of people expect it to hurt and that blisters will afflict your feet when you barefoot run. Well, they might. If you’re doing it wrong, that is!
Of course, when you get started you probably won’t get it right straight away – but blisters are a good way of learning what not to do.
What causes blisters to form isn’t running barefoot, but when you put your weight on your foot incorrectly. By spreading your weight evenly and rotating your hips you can help to avoid the worst of it.
Asphalt makes an excellent first surface to run on – and we’re not biased just because we are one of Tennessee’s foremost asphalt paving contractors!