Sunday, June 2, 2013

Does Running Barefoot?

1. Q. Doesn't that hurt?
A. No, if it did I won't be doing it.

2. Q. What about rocks?
A. What about them?
Q. Doesn't it hurt if you step on them?
A. Of course it does, that's why I don't step on them.

3. Q. What about glass?
A. There's really not a lot of glass on the road, and if I see it, I avoid it.

4. Q. Why do you run barefoot?
A. That's a little more difficult to explain. Once you start doing it it just feels right. I do wear minimalist shoes during the winter and when transitioning back to barefoot running, or when I'm just putting a lot of milage on my soles, but it's a downer.

5. Q. So there are times that you won't run barefoot?
A. Yes, there are times I feel it's a good idea to put on some protection. It maybe for long distances when I've been putting a lot of miles in - you should be smart about it.

6. Q. So barefoot running is only OK for short distances?
A. No, that's wrong, I've run a marathon barefoot, but during the 3+ months training for a marathon you can run 30 to 50 miles a week, which, if you've not conditioned your feet to run that volume, can start to take it's toll. However, your feet adapt amazingly well, so given time, your feet will adjust to those regular distances as well.

7. Q. You must have really tough feet, right?
A. Actually no. Most people expect barefoot running gives you hard calloused feet, but that's just not the case. Again, your feet adapt by building up the pads of your feet, but your soles remain supple, not hard. You were out the old dead skin, which is constantly being renewed. The more barefoot running you do the better your body gets at doing this.

8. Q. I read and hear a lot from other runners, runner magazines, and online sources that running barefoot is just a fad and that there's not data that says running barefoot results in less injuries than running with shoes.
A. That's true, but there are also not studies that say running with shoes causes less injuries than running barefoot. Something you should consider is that real barefoot runners, those that have been doing it for a few years and swear by it, is that most barefoot runners have years of experience running in traditional shoes. I'm not aware of anyone that runs in traditional shoes given barefoot running a real chance, I'm talking about running barefoot for a year or more, then transitioning back to traditional running shoes. One other thing to keep in mind, running shoe companies don't make any money off you if you run barefoot - follow the money.

9. Q. So you're telling me it takes years to be able to run barefoot? Why would I want to spend the time doing that when I could just put on a pair of shoes and go run.
A. No, it does not take years to learn how to run barefoot. It really comes down to the individual, but my experience has been that it takes years to run barefoot well. But I believe that the same holds true for running in general, you can strap on a pair of shoes, but you won't be a good running until you've done it for awhile.

10. Q. I don't know, it sounds crazy.
A. I believe it only sounds crazy because we're practically born with shoes on our feet, it's engrained within us to have shoes on. There's a stigma when it comes to bare feet, which, if you think about it, is really more of a strange point of view. There's a ton of myths about being barefoot too, but most, if not all are wrong. I'd suggest to anyone who's actually interested, question the things you think you know about being barefoot and attempt to change your mind about it. Since I started both minimalist running and barefoot running, my feet have become stronger, healthier, more adaptive, stable, etc. How well would your hands work if you wore mittens for your whole life?

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