I never thought of running half-marathon barefoot. But, as I crossed the finish line on Vancouver’s beautiful seawall with the sun glistening in my face, I knew I had made the right choice. The decision was less than 24-hours old and I trained 0.0kms barefoot, but completing the race reaffirmed some deep beliefs surrounding the execution of a goal once you commit to it. As I reflect on the experience, it is clear the lessons and impact run deeper – and I am more than happy to share.
Before getting into what I learned from the experience and how it relates to everything about life, I’d like to briefly introduce why I prefer not to wear shoes. The first reason that I don’t wear shoes is because I don’t think we really have to. It isn’t much deeper than that – my choice is rooted in a deep seeded belief that I authentically hold which doesn’t buy into a world where ‘shoes’ are necessary. Secondly, I don’t wear shoes because *most* of the reasons people tell me to wear shoes are rooted in some form of fear. I always hear: ‘you could step on glass’ or ‘what if you step on rocks’ or ‘what if someone tramples your toes’ or ‘what if it hurts’. My response never waivers. I look them in the eyes and say, “It feels right to do it. I watch my every step. And, I’ve been doing this for years and none of the fears you mentioned have ever materialized. If something is going to happen, it will happen and I can deal with it then.”
Ultimately, I find people often project their fears about what could go wrong on to me when I tell them I do most things barefoot. And, it took a bit of time, but I decided that I was going to stop listening to people tell me not to do something because what could go wrong. Is everyone with me? We are talking about our lives here, people! Fear based thinking stymies individualism, creativity and love. Standing up to it, through any exercise meaningful builds a muscle to face fears and not look at things from a worst-case scenario.
All of this being said, here is what I learned from running a half-marathon barefoot and how it connects to our lives as human beings in 2017.
1) Hard things are always easier to do when you are doing it for something bigger than yourself. The night before the race, one of my friends asked me if I was doing this as a ‘gimmick’. I thought about it for a second and then told her I was doing it to show others they can do whatever they want in their lives, however random or difficult or meaningful it might be. Each step I took was for something bigger than me. It was about standing up against fear based thinking. With such lofty ambitions, it was easy to navigate discomfort and pain in the face of the collective good.
Apply this to everything in your business and life and you will succeed. Make everything you do about serving others and you will flourish.
2) If you want to do something, just do it. Often the lead up and anticipation to making a decision is much more difficult than the decision itself. I decided to run barefoot less than a day before the race, so I didn’t really have time to think about what I was doing. I just did it. No stories, no drama. If I went for it and got hurt at the start of the race, all that would have has happened is that I would have stopped. That’s it.
If you have a business idea or life goal or dream trip or a big crush, act on it. When you think about what the worst-case scenario actually is, it is never really that bad. The idea will fail, you won’t achieve the goal, the trip will suck or your crush will not be interested in you. BUT, you’ll have done it. And, once you get in the habit of doing it, you’ll soon see you can do anything.
3) People will unexpectedly support you when you follow your heart. The cool thing about following your heart and authentically pursuing what you feel is right is that complete strangers will come out of the woodwork to support you. But, when you are doing either what people think you should be doing or what everyone else is doing, you may find yourself wondering where the support is. However, when you do you your way, you will attract your tribe.
The best part of the race was having so many people encourage, support and cheer me on for being barefoot. I didn’t ask for this, but was very glad to receive it. I was just living life how it made sense to me and to have others back me on it meant the world. Do this in your life. Live how you feel life should be lived and you’ll see so many others have just been waiting for you to do it.
4) Do something your way you can look back on and be proud of. One of the main thoughts running through my head during the race was ‘do this once, and you’ll always be able to look back upon it proudly’. I ran the half-marathon barefoot as much as for the present-day Cory as I did for the 85 year-old Cory who can look back and think ‘how crazy was I to do things like that’ with a big smile.
Take chances. Try new things and do random stuff which you can look back on your life and be proud of. Laugh at yourself. Have cool stories to share with your children. Do one thing today that you can look back and be proud of.
So, yes! I ran a half-marathon barefoot. I didn’t think I would learn all these lessons or have this perspective until I did. Will I run one again? I have no idea and it isn’t really on my mind. For the moment, I am just enjoying having done something fun and random and am thinking of new ways to try to challenge myself in my life.
I write this in hope that one person will read this and challenge a fear-based thought that holds them back or do something they feel is truly right, despite the opinions of others. Being barefoot is important to me, but it doesn’t have to be to you. Find what you care about it and follow it. Please email me if you need an accountability in challenging the status-quo – I am taking a stand for people to do what they feel is right.
With love and without shoes,