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Running Barefoot

June 25, 2009

barefoot1I am no exercise kinesiologist or personal trainer. But I am an experienced athlete, and a diligent researcher when it comes to what equipment is the most ergonomic for my body. Hop over to my tech corner and you’ll see all kinds of stuff related to better cycling ergonomics. Large sweep handlebars, cleat shims for your shoes, narrow q-factor cranks. And a bunch of stuff I have yet to add. Today’s focus is actually not cycling or nutrition related, as most of my entries tend to be. It’s about running. Healthier, more effecient running. The beauty of running is that it requires no equipment, other than maybe a pair of shorts and a sports bra if you are female. Shoes you ask? You don’t need them. Much like you have been conditioned your entire life to believe you need a lot of carbohydrates to function properly, society and shoes companies have brainwashed you into thinking you need shoes to run better and more injury free. Shoe companies come out with new “technology” and gadgets every year to try and stay ahead of the competition. Stores that sell running shoes would have you believe that you can hop on a treadmill in their store while they analyze your gait and determine that you are an overpronator and have an extremely high arch. They then proceed to sell you a shoe that is supposed to correct these “problems.” Both shoe companies and retailers only have one thing on their minds: your money. A few months ago, having developed a lot of interest in barefoot running and minimal shoes ( see this blog entry ), I decided to buy some Mizuno Wave Universe II shoes. I wasn’t quite ready to go completely barefoot for my races, especially Xterras with rough trail runs, but I was ready to try out the most minimal shoe I could find. This one certainly fit the bill. It is unbelievably light and has hardly any cushion at all in the forefoot area. After several training miles and three 10k trail run races, I’m here to say that I will never buy any shoe with more cushion than this one. If anything, I’ll find some with LESS cushioning, such as the Vibram Five Fingers, or go completely barefoot (my ultimate goal). The only thing I have to fear, is fear itself. Fear indeed is what drives us to make a lot of the poor decisions that we already make on a day to day basis. Get fear out of your system and have the courage to try new things. I can promise you, once you get used to running in next to nothing or nothing, you will not go back. We were Born To Run, not born to need shoes to run. To really drive the point home, I’m referencing several great articles and resources regarding this subject. In the end the decision is yours, but I think you will find the evidence overwhelmingly in support of “less is more.” Happy reading, and good luck in your new running endeavours.

The Definite Resource for barefoot running

The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?

Popular Mechanics Article

Barefoot Rick ( made headlines for running the Boston Marathon barefoot )

Sports Science article

Even Wiki talks about it

Conditioning Research Blog-Lots of other Caveman approved stuff here too, check it out!

If you absolutely cannot give up shoes (even I have yet to do so for hardcore trail running), there are options out there that mimic barefoot running like my Mizuno’s and the Vibram Five Fingers. I will save this post for another day.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 8, 2010 2:01 pm

    I usually run barefoot at a local baseball field with thick bermuda grass and love the feeling of actually feeling the ground. When the weather gets cooler I run in a pair of walmart water shoes about $8. I love them. Great work on your site.

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