blue transparent title year without shoes with grey rocks in background and two bare foot of a man wearing green shorts

A year without shoes anniversary (not raising money for kids without shoes though).

At the end of July, 2018 I crossed a milestone for my first year without shoes. I’ve been living barefoot the whole time from +40°C to -25°C and back, hence I do have some stuff to say on the subject of being barefoot every second of every day. Although this post was supposed to be a humble commemoration of this anniversary, eventually it turned out into one of the longest and most detailed posts of mine. Oh, well… There you have it. Enjoy!

The dawn of my barefoot life

Once upon a time I forgot my running shoes and ran out barefoot. Few kilometers in I realized, there’s no need for music, audio books or other things to take my thought off the road. Thanks to simple instinct of self protection triggered trough direct contact with the surface, running barefoot forced me to just be in the THAT moment right in THAT place (here are my thoughts on being barefoot after three months).

If it is THAT DIFFERENT to run barefoot, why not try to drop shoes for a day and see what happens – thought I thereafter? The day without footwear extended into a year without shoes. Yet until the end of winter I wasn’t sure if I’ll go trough it barefooted. I was ready to jump back into a pair of sandals if I’ll start feeling like it. Never did though (read more about my experience on being barefoot in winter here).

Circumstances

I already mentioned this in my previous posts: living barefoot probably is easier for me than for majority thinking of doing it, because:

  1. I work mostly from home or from my car.
  2. I don’t have those clown meetings where people try to be and look more important than they really are.
  3. I don’t know people on who’s opinion my life would depend so I couldn’t coexist next to them without shoes.
  4. I usually don’t find myself in places with enhanced probability of feet hazards (a street of hedgehogs, nails, mousetraps and I don’t like walks in rose shrubs).
  5. In Lithuania we don’t have extremely hot or extremely cold weather.
  6. There are no scorpions or other poisonous insects or animals on our grounds (if you won’t search for those on purpose).
  7. I am quite a stubborn person and I like to do stuff the best I can.

I fully understand that a lot of people in this world have different circumstances thus I don’t expect nor I want to make you feel small because you live your life the way you do it with your shoes on. Just telling my story here.

shotgun sennheiser mkh 416 microphone with an iPhone 7 next to and a pop filter in front of them all fastened on special holders inside a car in front of a back seat. a picture for year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

Part of my daily job is voice over recording. I usually do it in my car. Here’s how my setup looks on the back seat.

Fanaticism

While being a stubborn-esque person I might sometimes take things a bit too far, yet I must admit – I do not have any internal problems wearing shoes and again – I by no means judge people who wear them. Being barefoot brings totally different experience and feel of the world underneath and around me and I encourage everyone to try it out at their spare time and walk barefoot as much as possible, but I don’t I seek or dream about the whole world walking without shoes.

Because depending on your state of mind (and many other circumstances) it might be very dangerous. It also highly depends on surfaces you’re forced to walk on. That’s why I always have a pair of V-Run’s (feel free to read my pre-barefoot-era review on Vibram FiveFingers Trek Ascent Insulated and V-Run’s) in my backpack when I go abroad or somewhere where narrow viewed people might be in charge of entrance. But since I discovered that my feet already feel too hot in FiveFingers I’m probably going to exchange my back-up for some emergency rope sandals.

I like to avoid places where I might potentially be not welcome without shoes (like bars, clubs or similar – although I don’t use alcohol and have a gorgeous wife so no loss here), but I put a pair on if I need to and feel no urgency for a confession thereafter.

Times when I needed shoes

In today’s world whilst living in the city or somewhere around it there is no way you can pull off a year without shoes by 100%. You can try, but I doubt the success if you’re a peaceful, decent person, who still does some stuff by yourself and doesn’t hire a person to flush your toilet or mow that lawn of yours.

man's bare foot above grey sand with footprints of hiking shoes pressed in it. some red rocks around

I (and my wife sometimes) go barefoot where others use special equipment.

For example there were four times during my year without shoes when I was forced to wear some foot protection.

  • First person who broke my shoe-less sequence was my neighbor. He needed my help to bring a freakishly heavy stone table into his house. The trail led trough a messy construction site full of all kinds of waste, wild prickly plants and professionally hidden nails and wood screws.
  • Second time was when I attended my son friend’s birthday party in a shopping mall. I didn’t want to cause the parents any inconvenience and add to the stress they were already having, so I put my V-run’s on and they were enlightened when they saw me in shoes. I’m a nice and understanding person. Really.
  • Third time was kind of extreme. I needed to melt the ice in my chimney. So I was forced to climb into 9 meter height using metal latter at -20°C and heavy wind. While the cold and wind itself wasn’t a problem I didn’t really wanted to stick my feet onto the metal frame.
  • Fourth time was few weeks ago when I put my V-run’s on in the airport of Nice at +40°C, because there was simply no room in my backpack left, since my wife wanted to bring home huge amounts of lavender, fig leaves and other herbs she gathered and dried up during our trip to Provence. Healthy herbs and happy wife are much more important than celebrating a year without shoes in the airport of Nice barefoot.

Traveling barefoot

a young redhead woman in hat and deep green dress barefoot standing in a terrace of a medieval catle overlooking mountains in the horizon and blue sky

My wife spent most of our trip to Provence barefoot. Here she’s in a castle located high uphill somewhere in Hautes-Alpes.

Which brings us to traveling without shoes. I’ve had three more or less major trips abroad. One on a ferry to and from Sweden (Stockholm), one to Italy (Rome) and one to France (Nice) both by plane.

To my big surprise no one even mentioned my bare feet in a bad way while going trough customs at the airports. A girl in Nice just asked if I have shoes. I said: “yes, but it’s too hot to wear them” (obviously I took the V-Run’s off after check-in!). But that was probably an instinct of hers which came as a useless question.

Of course people are blown away once they see a person in heavy snow (this happened once we were in Middle Apennines attending a medieval castle on the top of a mountain) walking barefoot, but most of them are polite enough to keep their opinions to themselves at least until I’ll be far enough not to put spell on them or not to hear.

All in all as I already mentioned I still bring a pair of shoes to all of my travels because I don’t want to cause me, my wife nor my colleagues any stress and putting on my shoes for few hours won’t make me go hell or mess up my way of life.

a barefooted man in sweater squating under an arch in remaining wall of a medieval castle ruins which is all covered in snow and located on the top of a mountain. Heavy fog behind the wall on the right. a picture for year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

Although it was already spring down below, by the castle ruin on the top of the mountain there was still very strong wind and heavy snow. Got several crushed looks while passing by some overdressed tourists.

By the way – french couple – owners of a B&B we were staying in, said that I might run into some negative reaction in Nice, but that didn’t happen.

Negative reactions and warnings

Yet negative reactions and judging astonished looks is something I needed to deal with quite a lot during the year without shoes (and still do). Negativity is noticeably more vivid during cold season, ’cause you know, walking with your head nodded down looking at smartphone’s screen and hitting a lighting pole and people is normal, blowing cigarette smoke into ones face is acceptable, but being barefoot in +15°C in the city indicates you’re just mad and a rude person in general. I’m exaggerating a bit, but take 50% of power from my words and you’ll get a ballpark of the real situation.

From all of them there are probably two I remember quite clear…

1. Few days before Christmas in the evening me, my wife and my two year old son visited a church and were looking for a dinner place thereafter. It was heavy sleet in Vilnius with 0°C. After entering a restaurant we liked while visiting another city, we said we’ll be dining and headed right into WC since my son wanted to pee for some time already. Just after he started peeing and I was helping him out, manager of a restaurant with a security worker approached us INSIDE THE RESTROOM, and the manager girl said: “you’re barefoot??? our clients are complaining about your bare feet, put your shoes on or you’ll have to leave”. I was ready to start arguing, but since my wife was talking to them very politely while trying to explain things (and usually she’s who’s fighting for the truth in the world), I backed off.

No need to go into the detail – but basically the security guy just admitted he doesn’t know how to handle the situation, because obviously we’re decent people AND with a child. But since the visitors of the restaurant are complaining, he will need to ask us to leave and will think about how to handle this kind of situations in the future. He couldn’t stop apologizing and we didn’t want to cause HIM any trouble, because obviously that was a baseless caprice of the manager-queen who were standing behind the security guy and speaking to us trough him. So we left.

Then I started imagining THE client of the restaurant seeing a barefoot guy with his family walking by when it is snowing and raining outside, calling the manager and telling her: “I can’t eat, because this guy has no shoes”. Obviously this was an imaginary visitor of the manager girl.

In what case would I be allowed to dine there? Would be having a pair of flip-flops on be enough? Or better shoes without the sole to cover top part of my foot? Anyway…

2. Another adventure without logic and solid ground was in some no-name grocery store somewhere around Rome. I was walking around while my wife was shopping for snacks. Then I approached one store worker and asked where to find something. He lead me to the thing and added (in Italian of course) that I can not be barefoot in the store. After being asked why, he explained that there might be shattered glass on the floor and I might cut myself. Like it’s my problem that they might leave occasional piece of glass… If I didn’t give him a chance to speak, I wouldn’t have known how unsafe their store was, although I was walking around him before the actual chat.

People just feel the need to say that it is not allowed to be barefoot in this or that place just to not allow something, I think. Most of the time I choose not to argue and let them be the winners in the situation. They deserve to win at least somewhere.

Positive reactions

Positive thoughts expressed loudly is evenly rare as the negative ones, yet have more logic and wisdom of life in them.

For example occasionally elder people approach me just to say that they remember how they used to be barefoot in childhood till first snow and how they were never sick, but then they moved to the city and all kinds of diseases came together with footwear.

I remember few elder ladies shouting from other side of the street: “now that is cool!!! Good job!”

Lady at the airport’s boarding gate (to Nice) in Vilnius remembered me traveling to Rome in spring and said that she was worried that I’m going to get cold, but then she thought “well if it’s more comfortable like that, then OK…”

I also was invited to a local family club for a Q&A on barefoot living as well as wrote an article for an online magazine. It’s always nice when people are more positive about and interested in benefits of not using footwear.

Influence, influencers, influencing, influenciness…

When you have a person, who does something you don’t, you (OK – me) start to steal parts of that something from him/her. It is especially noticeable with laughter style.

No surprise that after a year without shoes I start seeing more people trying to spend some time barefoot in their homes, yards, nature, even in the city. E.g. my mom began being without footwear at home, then in the yard after spring kicked in. And although she criticized me that I was walking around the city barefoot (because she was worried people might feel uncomfortable around me), at the end of spring she sincerely admitted she understands why I can’t and don’t want to wear shoes anymore. She felt it right after being barefoot for several days.

A readhead woman in sunglases in pink t-shirt carefully sliding down the hill on a very rocky path covered in red sharp rocks of all sizes. Some green plants are on both sides of the woman. A picture fro year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

For my wife walking barefoot on this sort of scattered rock was a piece of cake and much easier than in sandals she said.

My wife for example spent nearly entire trip to Provence barefooted. She walked on rocks, gravel, spiky forest trails all without shoes like she was doing it for years. Which reminded me that there’s nothing too heroic spending a year without shoes or being barefoot in nature. ’cause nature is fitted to be felt trough bare feet. And if you think it’s not – you’re walking some paths you should not.

Even my three year old son sometimes decides to be without shoes (highly depends on no one knows what…) for a day or so. He also instinctively learned to walk correctly on different surfaces to avoid injuries.

I couldn’t skip my neighbor, whom I see barefoot in his yard all the time as well as on occasional walks with his kids to the railroad. And few days ago his wife sent me several pictures taken in the city where he and their daughters attended a restaurant without footwear! “In case someone will ask if you already have barefoot minions” she said.

a man without footwear in light blue t-shirt squating on a railroad crossing watching out on three children who are all lying on the ground with their ears close to the rails listening for incoming train. Two girls are barefoot. Some green trees in the background all lit by an evening sun. A picture for year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

My neighbor with his daughters and my son listening for an incoming train. Barefoot minions.

Last but not least – I have a friend who tricked me into running longer than 20k distances and who started having occasional walks without shoes and running completely barefoot (earlier than me) as well.

Barefoot running (like running without actual shoes)

Since we’re on the subject… Somewhere around year 2016 I started searching the right footwear to run barefoot style in winter, ’cause I was already bought by minimalist running techniques (my first impressions here). Vibram Trek Ascent’s Insulated were discovered (of course my review of a pair here).

And just a year later I ran my first 21k in winter without shoes. What I remember for sure is that running on snow and ice (at about -3°C) was much easier on my feet than later doing the same distance in warm season and way easier than I expected in general.

a route of 21 kilometers made on googlemaps that looks like a Schauzer dog.

Route of my first 21k I ran on snow and ice this winter. Looks like a small Schnauzer to me.

You know how companies who produce running shoes advertise that in these or those shoes your feet will get lots of ventilation and keep cool. In reality there’s nothing near to cool in any running shoes. Trust me (why would you?). Now if you tried to run barefoot in winter (after the adaptation period of course), you’d understand what it means to have cool and ventilated feet during a run.

Later in spring 2018 I did one more 24k run which felt completely different and this is where I experienced that it is nearly impossible to run on gravel since doing so for prolonged periods may cause massive injuries to ankles, knees, hips as well as pull up some old traumas. Our body naturally tries to protect itself from constant stabbing into the soles by throwing more work onto the joints and muscles so that the foot could have the shortest and softest contact with the hazardous surface possible. I try to avoid running on unpaved roads for longer distances (more than few hundred meters).

man's two bare feet on gravel with some small and large sharp stones.

Gravel roads are probably most dangerous places to run on without shoes. Walking on gravel isn’t marvelous either.

By the way – I did both runs exactly because I have never ran half marathon before. Not even in shoes. But my friend who also started running barefoot (he was my running idol and I was super encouraged when I found out he’s running barefoot too) invited to join him in and official half marathon. Since I didn’t want to be a disappointment and needed to make sure I can handle that distance I tried my first half marathon in winter.

two smiling barefooted men in red t-shirts running on woden bridge on a sunny day with some running people and green trees in background. A picture for year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

Me and my friend crossing a bridge during the half marathon of Trakai.

So my third in total and first official barefooted half marathon was at the end of spring 2018. Since the track was mostly asphalt, I quickly learned two important lessons:

1. Old scorched asphalt eventually starts to “burn” the soles because of small needle-esque stones.

2. After feet start to burn from hazardous surfaces it is NOT recommended to take a fast foot-plunge into a cool water. While it is very nice to cool down the burning soles it is much harder to later fight increased sensitivity induced because of relaxing origin of the cold water bath. Much better idea is to use puddles where the water is warm, mud or just keep burning.

A month after my first official barefoot half marathon a Franciscan monk slash ultra-marathon runner encouraged me to try out 82k trail after we did a light 7k jog up and down, up and down hill and he confirmed that my running technique and posture is splendid and I could really do more than 21k.

I believed him and did my first trail which I decided to end at 53.3k instead of 82k since I got really bored. Also I was running THAT long of a distance for the first time in my life, and because of the unknown I took a bit too slow of a pace and performed a series of other mistakes generally related to being overly careful.

three men in running gear posing on wooden terrace before 82 kilometer ultra trail run. Man on the right in red t-shirt is barefoot. Some people and forest in background

My inspirer monk Evaldas Darulis OFM on the left (in acid green) and me on the right (in red) all ready for the 82k ultra trail of Kernavė.

What I learned after this trail:

  1. Running trails barefoot in forest-ish environments has serious advantages over running in shoes. You can cool you feet down in springs, rivers and lakes and they get dry instantly since our skin is water resistant (at some point – meaning if you don’t keep it in wet socks and shoes). There’s no way to lose nails, or tear of some skin as well. Also shadow helps out your soles the same way it helps your head, which is awesome.
  2. Recovery is VERY important. Unfortunately I learned this one the hard way since three days after the trail I went for a “light” 7k jog and injured either a muscle or tendon near the toes which my other leg tried to compensate for, hence I also ended up with quite strong knee pain in the right leg. That was obviously not enough of a lesson for me so I decided to train some martial arts with my friends where several kicks induced strain in Achilles tendon. I’m still not fully recovered from this one a month later.

And now since I got a free pass into one of the largest running events in Vilnius due to my bare feet, I’ll need to be up and running to celebrate my year without shoes on September 9th. By the way we’ll be running there with my friend wearing t-shirt’s of the first and only farm animal sanctuary in Lithuania and Baltic states called “Trys Paršeliai” (Three Little Pigs) to give the couple doing such an awesome job some exposure! Be sure to check their website here or their page on FB.

a young couple surrounded by farm animals: a cow, two goats and two rams in first baltic farm animal sanctuary in Lithuania called "three little pigs"

Viktorija and Edvardas: owners of first farm animal sanctuary in Baltic states surrounded with their pets saved from slaughtering: little cow, two nosy best buds goats and two shy-ish rams.

Injuries caused by barefoot life

After reading about my running without shoes experience, it might seem that being barefoot is very unsafe. In reality I’m always saying that while being barefoot you must listen to your body a lot. And as you probably noticed this is exactly what I ignored after my last (and first) 42+k trail. What you might also notice is that my injuries are all running related. So this doesn’t actually count as injuries caused because of my bare feet.

Now lets talk living barefoot injuries. Although I always love to stress the phenomenon where somehow universe helps me to avoid unnatural hazards I should admit that I have had several… OK – two accidents where I did hurt my soles.

One time me and my son were having a walk and he suddenly expressed a wish for #2 (which meant I have about 10 seconds or something terrible will happen). There was no time for thinking and I needed to take instant action. So I grabbed him and recklessly rushed trough stubble field so he could have a peaceful #2. Harsh stubble caused a cut in my sole’s arch (which is the weakest spot of the sole even if being barefoot all the time, since this part doesn’t really touch the ground a lot). It took about a month for it to heal completely, which was a bit unusual.

The other time I can think of was in winter, after I was forced to run on a road that was generously sprinkled with road salt. Salt literally ate my skin at the bends of toes and especially damaged this of second toe, which ended up being less cold resistant. Meaning that it always feels as it have got problems with blood flow. Oh well – it would be naive to expect a year without shoes to go just injury free.

Eyes on the road, please!

You know when you’re in slippers and you hit something on the ground hard and thank all saints it wasn’t your toe you hit it with? Guess what – it does not happen if walking or running barefoot. Very strange but it really doesn’t.

But even more mysterious is that the second you stop keeping your eyes on the road (and I’m not talking excessive surveillance – just casual checking where you’re going and not where you put your feet exactly) you instantly toe-kick a rock, a stone, a root or just approach those with too much inertia from above and hurt your sole. Happened to me several times when I was trying to find my location during the Ultra trail and texting to my wife. Happened to my friend, while he was looking at the screen, hurt his heel and couldn’t run for some time. But this works while walking as well. Tested!

As I already said – there’s no need to be extra cautious and scout every inch of the surface you’ll be putting your feet on. Just casual keeping your eyes on the path (or should it be “just casual NOT keeping your eyes on your smartphone’s screen”) usually does the trick.

Sole’s immunity to horrors of the surface

Of course I sometimes need to pull out a needle of a spruce or some other spiky plant, but those do not pierce too deep (meaning there’s no blood), although the sensation isn’t too nice.

Not only me, but also my friend who also started walking barefoot notices something or someone is just protecting our feet if we don’t distract ourselves on unnatural causes like smartphones and similar. This is strange but it is true.

man's two bare feet on sand road covered in stones of all sizes

Even a stone like the one on the top can cause injuries if you’ll be looking into a screen of your smartphone.

I’ve walked in really crappy places and not once have I had glass, nail or something of that kind in my foot. Lots of times I find myself looking at the ground and realizing that I’m standing few centimeters from a dangerous piece of glass… Spooky and mysterious.

Despite all the magic, I can confirm that one thing that really changed trough the year without shoes is sole thickness, and because of that resistance to all kinds of sharp objects. Although gravel of all sorts eventually starts to feel like hell, but there’s significant decrease in pain and discomfort while walking on “unfriendly surfaces” now, compared to just after the winter. I still don’t think it’s possible to run on gravel covered roads for long periods of time, but the resistance builds up for sure.

a barefoot man walking down a path made of small stones with sky, trees, bushes and a city on a coast of a sea in the background

This path made of small rocks made for tourists was one of the hardest walks ever. Probably my soles were still too thin after the winter, but I moved like foot after foot. At a speed of a relaxed hedgehog.

Health

Honestly I can not tell if walking barefoot alone has had significant influence on my health. I can swear I didn’t catch cold for the first time in my life during last cold season. But so did my wife and my son (OK, they got away with light forms of cold). Then again – they walked in shoes and I was barefoot. So fact is – if being without shoes didn’t improve my health, it did not deteriorate it either.

But problem doesn’t walk alone as we say in Lithuania. After I started living barefoot, I also started using only cold (full on blue) water during showers. I also started bathing in icy rivers and lakes in winter with water temperature at about 0°C. I also practiced Wim Hof method all three months of winter. So basically it’s hard to tell what gave my immune system the most strength to not get sick from all those radical activities (or are they?), but I believe it was combination of all.

a man sitting in a river neck deep with snow all around. A picture for year without shoes post on tomasdabas.eu

Taking a usual plunge in ice cold river (water was usually at about +1°C) Vilnia with my son sliding from a hill behind the camera.

According to the earthing book our soles have 1000+ of nerve endings and we keep those blindfolded in socks and shoes all the time, while everyone knows that a massage can improve blood circulation and other things. So I like to believe that having constant and natural feet massage helps me a lot. Not sure how. But according to the laws of logic it should.

The earthing book

As you might already have noticed there’s that thing called “earthing”. And it needs to be addressed as well. Not because I care about it too much, but because a lot of people who have ever heard of it, assume that it is that theory or to be exact the book what flipped my mind, made me go cu-ckoo and drop my shoes off. In reality I found out about the book and the THING somewhere at the midway of my year without shoes.

I believe that there might be something about direct contact with the earth. Yet I can’t say I really feel it. I also can’t say that constantly being in touch with planet Earth helps me for example with faster recovery from injuries. But it’s probably better to believe that it does and that it would take a year to heal my Achilles in shoes.

What I can say for sure – it is very interesting (not like – wow this is the most interesting thing in the world!) and different to feel every change of the surface and know that you’re the only one in maybe 100km radius who actually feels it.

The barefoot running book

I also must address another book called “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall. I believe it was this exact book, that made me think that 21k is something I could manage to pull off after I read it at the end of December. It was a great read and I recommend it to everyone who’s involved in any sort of running even in a slight way. Yeah, even with shoes on!

How I feel in footwear after a year without shoes?

In my earlier posts I wrote about how Vibram FiveFingers (V-Run’s to be exact) have the same feel as running barefoot. After spending a year without shoes walking and running I should correct myself – there is no shoe that will make you feel the same as being barefoot. To make some of you even sadder – even being with shoes with thinnest soles is nowhere close to what it feels like being barefoot. Sorry about that, guys.

This is because the key element of being barefoot is direct contact with the surface which triggers lot’s of unique body mechanisms including self-protection. And self protection is eliminated if there’s something between your foot and the surface. No matter how thin the separator is (I’m not talking socks – but who on earth would walk in just socks?), it will still work as a helmet or a glove for a boxer, meaning that your body will instantly know it can get away with much less care to detail.

Back to V-Run’s. As I mentioned in “traveling” part of the article, few weeks ago I needed to spend some time in my FiveFingers in the airport of Nice in +40°C. And that was awful. Although those shoes perhaps belong to the “breathing” breed, the heat and moisture just built up until my feet felt like boiling. And no “breathing” material will help you out in a situation like this.

Think of it that way – if you’re barefoot and your body temperature is +36.6°C, then everything that’s below that even by one or two degrees will serve as a cooling surface or material. Once you’re in shoes – this is gone.

We Lithuanians also love Polish “Crocks” knock-off’s. Previously I used to wear those in summer. Just for sake of knowledge I tried those a month ago. What I can’t understand how was I able to walk in this piece of rubber bit more than a year ago. They’re very uncomfortable and literally collect moisture and get smelly really fast.

“Internal” hygiene of a barefoot person

On the other hand moisture and foot smell as we know it is non existent if being barefoot all the time. Because of the waterproof origin of human skin, my feet are always dry. If they get wet, they dry out immediately. Since there is no moisture build up, there is no smell. In normal condition my feet have the same smell as your elbows or your chin.

Of course being in the city makes my soles black. So I wash my feet every time I get back home (or somewhere indoors, where people are expected to take their shoes off) and sometimes few times a day – in general probably more times than most of people wash their hands.

close up of two bare feet with soles being black from dirt and arches of the feet clean

Although this picture was taken after a walk on suburban paths, but you can imagine how black feet can get from city streets.

“External” hygiene or walking on piss and spit

That looks hardcore, I know. But it is also part of barefoot life reality. After seeing me without shoes and chatting to me, several people tried ditching footwear for some time, but they were instantly turned off by the factor of hygiene, or feeling of lack of hygiene in the city. I fully understand them and as I already mentioned one of less attractive sides of living a year without shoes is that every time I come back home, my soles are black.

As of myself I don’t really care about all the filth lurking around on the streets, that makes my soles go dark. What bothers me probably the most is public toilets. Majority of times there’s some yoga-esque feet postures involved in order to pee while not actually standing in piss. I started to really appreciate clean toilets and I already mentioned this in some other post, but once again – if people didn’t have shoes, they’d have very clean public toilets and streets probably. Isn’t happening though.

Some friends asked me what if I step into a spit. But to be true I don’t believe I have been there. I’m usually aware of where I put my foot, so spit is no-go most of the time.

And if it does happen sometimes without me even knowing about it, the mouth juice gets easily washed in a puddle, fountain or just scrubbed away because of the friction and all the general lead and dirt covering the streets.

What changed from start to now?

Probably the most noticeable change that happened during the year without shoes is how I feel about other people reactions about me. Yes, I see every stare and hear every abrupt conversation, but that brings me more fun than discomfort. I also remember and overthink that I’m without shoes quite seldom.

Obviously – thickness of my soles increased and resistance to all sorts of surfaces together with it and I already addressed that topic a bit higher.

man's two bare feet on old scorched asphalt with occasional sharp black stones sticking out.

Old scorched asphalt is as much a challenge to walk and run on as gravel. Difference is that those small stones make your feet burn which eventually turns into barely unbearable pain. Yet this surface is much lighter on the joints and muscles. And after a year without shoes I’m able to withstand quite large amounts of it.

Also I sometimes think about the need for shoes in today’s city life (not talking construction workers or similar here). And I start to think those are much less necessary than we’re taught to think.

Mainstream ideas behind “barefootism”

I’m a blogger so obviously I do some SEO work. While researching a fitting title for this post, I bumped into several “year without shoes in order to provide shoes to those who need it” articles. Which made me smile and think how narrow-minded yet we westerners are. Or is it a quality of majority of the Earth’s population?

First – we reached a point where walking without shoes should be perceived nearly like martyrdom. And people making a pledge to spend a day or a year without shoes talk about all those who don’t even have footwear and how they are dedicating their way of a martyr to all of those little and poor (if I understand correctly we’re speaking Africa).

Second – fact is that people don’t need shoes (except maybe for some really hazardous natural and unnatural environments). Especially those who haven’t worn a pair in their life. What they need more is probably education about feet maintenance, hygiene and handling of light injuries (because you know – serious injuries are handled by doctors). And we western martyrs do our “suffering” exactly to “help” those people out to get their feet into a pair.

Third – it is understandable to START going a barefoot way in order to provide someone with a “comfort” of footwear. But if at the end of the year one shouts out “I did it!” and still holds on on the original form of idea of providing world with shoes, then he/she didn’t learn anything or wasn’t really listening to their bodies. Because the only inconvenience of being barefoot in public is public (or it’s ignorance and lack of knowledge).

And it is enough to spend a month or maybe even few weeks without footwear to realize that shoes is a thing most of us don’t need not to speak don’t benefit from wearing it at all.

“But I can’t walk as fast barefooted as I do it in shoes” you say. Let’s think about how much do we benefit from rushing somewhere then. Also what about that hip, knee and back pain that occurs after fast walks?

So maybe this is unnecessary, but I really just wanted to say that all those “martyrs” and their “altruism” is in my opinion something absolutely irrational as well as kind of a paradox from a natural point of view and could be easily compared to a project where someone decided to spend a year in freedom in order to provide all those little poor with jail cells.

Future plans

man's bare feet on ice with a crack in the middle

Not sure if I’m waiting to be able to do this again, but it’s good to know it is possible and not that dangerous (at least to me).

After spending my first year without shoes it doesn’t feel like I’m doing something special anymore. I only be with my feet free. But since people ask me “how long will you pursue this?” I can only answer with a question “for how long are you going to blink with both of your eyes?” What I know for sure is that I’ll be definitely keep extending this year without shoes into probably many more. But who am I to talk about the future? In fact I don’t even know if I’ll make it barefoot trough the upcoming winter.


That’s it for now. Thanks a lot if you read everything, ’cause as I mentioned at the start of this article it is by far the longest post I’ve ever written. Year without shoes – done! Coming up – much more years without shoes. Stay healthy, check out my unique project about acoustics of the sanctuaries of Lithuania (this would mean a lot to me as I’m putting lots of effort into this thing right now) and walk barefoot on your lawn as much as possible (this will mean a lot to you). See you!

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