by KIM HILSENBECK
At 40 years old, Andrew Palmore of Kyle said he is running better now than when he was running track and field in high school.
The difference, he said, is the shoes. Or more accurately, the lack of them.
Palmore said after high school he would run sporadically. But “I wasn’t really into it,” he said.
A few years ago he started running more; he had a part-time job where employees did monthly 5K runs. The leader of that group gave out the book, “Born to Run,” by Christopher McDougall.
“I read it and then I started going the barefoot route,” Palmore said.
He was curious about how it would feel to run with no shoes on, which tends to go against every piece of conventional wisdom and mother’s advice we’ve all been taught – not to mention advertising from major shoe brands like Nike.
But Palmore said that first time running barefoot in his neighborhood was “pretty cool.”
Palmore and his friend David Repp, who met through the Austin Barefoot Runner Meetup group, can be seen running Old Stagecoach Road between Kyle and San Marcos with no shoes on their feet, which not surprisingly are a bit hardened and dirty. But Palmore said it’s the best running he’s ever done.
And it’s not just the absence of shoes; he also changed his running form – landing on the balls of his feet rather than his heel. Palmore says the combination has made all the difference.
“When you can feel the ground, your feet are more sensitive and you’re not going to slam them down as hard. You’re going to kind of know when it’s too much,” he said. “It kind of prevents injury because you don’t overdo it.”
In “Born to Run,” McDougall takes readers to the heart of Mexico where he studied the Tarahumara Indians, arguably the greatest distance runners in the world.
The book inspired Palmore to run for the pure enjoyment of it. It even propelled him to start running more races, including 5- and 10-K runs, then a half marathon. In Austin last month, he ran his first full marathon. Yes, barefoot.
And while his time wasn’t the best, Palmore said he felt good about tackling that goal.
People may look at barefoot runners a little different, but Palmore said during the marathon, he heard voices from the crowd telling him he was the toughest runner out there.
He’s planning more races – many of which he finds out about from the Austin Barefoot Running Club website.
“My next run might be that Austin 10/20 Race in April,” Palmore said. “I race to motivate myself to keep going.”