This month, our featured runner is 52 year old Anny Harris from Michigan.
Anny has worked as a mental health nurse and volunteered for various running charities over the years.
In 2012 she made the decision to run barefoot for charity.
Her first event was not an unambitious one – she ran over 200 kms across the state, raising money for charity.
Although she later described the decision to leap in at the deep end and cover so many kilometres as a first time barefoot runner, as “pure madness”, she never regretted it.
With her first event, Anny raised over $5000 dollars for charity (a homeless mental health charity, in her native Michigan).
Since then, she has gone to take part in over twenty five organised events and run in no less than fourteen separate charity events.
She has raised more than $100,000 for various charities, either on her own or as part of her local barefoot running group.
She describes barefoot running as “like an addiction”.
After participating in this year’s International Barefoot Running Day of 2018, she is planning her next event; a solo marathon across the centre of Spain.
The trek will commence in the north coast of the country, travel through the middle of the country and end in the southern tip of Spain.
She estimates the trek will take around two months to complete and will be raising money for various charities – one homeless charity based in her home town and also a local Spanish mental health organisation.
Follow her journey on her blog and donate via her Just Giving page!
Here, she answers our editor’s questions;
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO RUN BAREFOOT?
It was a quite personal decision, taken at a time in my life where I was at a crossroads, quite literally.
I had been made redundant from my job and just finalised my divorce.
We had sold the apartment and everything seemed to have reached a natural full stop.
It was like there was something calling me, to try something new.
I had always been interested in fitness and running. It was always something that I had done to relax and sort of reset my mind.
Then I heard about barefoot running and the connect with nature.
I decided to try it for myself and it was completely liberating.
WHAT WAS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BAREFOOT RUNNING?
The hardest thing was actually having the confidence to do it at all!
I thought that people would be staring at me all the time. Or that they would point and whisper.
In actual fact, this doesn’t happen very much at all. And when people do point or look, I just give them a wave back!
HAVE YOU A PREFERRED RUNNING SURFACE?
No! I actually don’t.
When I began I thought, like so many, that asphalt would be difficult.
In actual fact, it isn’t. At least, it isn’t any more difficult than any other surface, when you get used to it and take care about how you run.
In fact, asphalt or a harder surface is a good place for a beginner.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ANY ONE STARTING TO BAREFOOT RUN?
Yes. Don’t expect to run the same distance barefoot as you did with shoes on. Completely start from scratch and re build your tolerance.
You can’t expect to run miles and miles when you aren’t used to it and it will hurt!