Barefoot runners - why so intolerant?

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10/03/2013 at 14:24

For the third time in the last couple of weeks, I have had a barefoot-convert aggressively tell me that heel-striking is WRONG and that traditional running shoes are 'bad'.

People don't become self-righteously preachy about compression socks or energy bars or interval training, so why about this?  As it happens, I do some barefoot running as well, but it didn't save my life/improve my PB/etc.

Why can't they just get on with it, without telling everyone how great they/barefoot running is?

10/03/2013 at 14:29

Ha, you do realise that this thread will now become a magnet for barefoot runners to come and tell you why you're wrong, don't you? (NB. I'm not one).

10/03/2013 at 15:07

Ha, you are probably right.  I can't be converted to the 'cult of barefoot' as I don't think that forefoot- and heel-striking are mutually exclusive, but I am sure that they will try!

10/03/2013 at 15:17

I understand the theory of 'barefoot' and 'minimalistic'. I have a problem when I read that you should avoid walking about barefoot or wearing flip flops and shoes without heels as it makes you prone to plantar fasciitis i.e. increases your risk.

10/03/2013 at 15:55
I run in minimalistic shoes and find that it works for me, after suffering a few knee injuries. I wouldn't however get all preachy and try and convert people to it.
If your style of running works for you and you are not having any issues then just stick with it.
It does annoy me when people try to say that their way is the only way because it's what they happen to do.
10/03/2013 at 15:59

I'm with you, Millsy - do whatever works.  I mix both - forefoot for faster, shorter runs, heels for  longer plodding.  I often start on fore/mid-foot and move backwards as I get longer into a run.  I just don't understand how some people can say "there's no evidence to support motion control shoes" whilst espousing an alternative which has just as little empirical evidence to support it.  Some guy with a goatee and Vibrams saying it's right doesn't make it so!

10/03/2013 at 16:48

Yes, whatever works.

I routinely run in race shoes but after testing some barefoot running on grass and a treadmill, would find minimalist more than my feet could cope with.

When tired, I fall down on to the flats of my feet which would give my heels a right bashing even if I didn't heel strike.

If I warm up for a race properly and get my calf muscles fully operational I can run the whole way on the forefoot.

 

 

10/03/2013 at 17:39

I don't care either way to be honest do what is the best for you - I run in what ever is cheapest on Amazon/Sports Direct - some suit in a white coat and an interest in horses once told me I pronated - so what I had never had a problem, ran 3,000 miles a year - my favourite running books isn't Born to Run, or Chi Running - but plimsoles on eyeballs out - the Jim Peters biography  - those guys didn't pronate or supinate they just ran and trained hard -and that is what it is all about -

10/03/2013 at 17:58

I'm very comfortable walking around barefoot, I spend most of my time at home that way, and although I run on the forefoot I couldn't run without shoes. I had a persistent calf injury about 18 months back and on Physio's advice, did some barefoot running once a week on the beach but found it hard work and couldn't wait to get back to normal. Have noticed that BF runners can be a little over-enthusiastic about it.  

10/03/2013 at 18:11

I sympathise with the OP's situation, but putting the shoe, or lack of shoe on the other foot, have some sympathy for barefoot zealots who have to week in week out listen to people bleating on about how they've been to a running shop and had a 'gait analysis' and been diagnosed as being an 'overpronator'.  Far too much snake oil and BS on both sides of the fence. Understandable as it's a lot simpler than either side thinking about the issues.

10/03/2013 at 18:46
Running in central London I have NEVER seen anyone barefoot running. If I did I think I would phone 999 and get them sectioned. Even with my trainers on I avoid most of the 'liquid' and 'things' that are on the pavement.......
seren nos    pirate
10/03/2013 at 18:55

but Kafeeg.barefoot runners do not run barefoot...which is what makes me find their over enthusiam quite funny.......

they call it barefoot but they do not actually do that....if you want to go all caveman then go ahead and do it...but they are just paying a fortune to buy into a different corporate machine that gives us the chunkier shoes

10/03/2013 at 18:57
Hang on, barefoot doesn't mean barefoot? No? NO?

I know I'm tipsy, but....
10/03/2013 at 18:58

How many people actually take bare foot running to the extreme of literally no shoes tho?

I saw a chap with no shoes or socks on running round the park once. Looked an absolute nutter.

10/03/2013 at 19:17

Ian M - fair point, but have you ever heard a "shod-runner" (not sure what else to call them?!) tell a barefooter that he's a fool and doomed to injury until he comes to his senses and learns what everyone has known for years now?!  No.  Because they don't feel the need to force their medial-posts and orthotics on others!

And as for barefooters saying that shoe companies have it all wrong - it's the same shoe companies making their minimalist shoes!  If you think that they lied about motion-control and over-pronation, why do you believe them when they say that zero-drop and no support is the solution?

10/03/2013 at 19:21

i've ran 100% barefoot before, but only on grass, or at the local athletics track, the only road running i've done like that was on holiday where the pavements were nice tiles and very little debrit, 

10/03/2013 at 21:16

I certainly wouldn't run actually bare-footed, even on grass or the beach.  Who knows what you might land very hard on?

I'm not interested enough to shell out a load of dosh on minimalist shoes just to see what it's like, either.

I wouldn't try to tell a barefoot runner that they shouldn't do it, though!

10/03/2013 at 21:46

I know a few runners who say that cushioning in shoes is unnecessary, stops the feet doing their natural job, and is a construct from the shoe companies to make you replace your shoes every 500miles thus paying loads more out.

They'd say you can do 1000s of miles in a pair, and they never get injuries at all.

Seems a good argument, but personally isn't something I'd want to try, as I tend to tick over nicely doing it the traditional cushioning and 500-550 swap over manner.

I also know runners who never take a day off running either, so some love to go against the grain!

11/03/2013 at 09:58

I run in minimalist shoes (merrell trail glove) and love them. Whilst i'm happy to give my 'twopennorth' to someone that asked, I wouldnt try to convert someone that was happy running in normal running shoes. what works for one doesnt necessarily work for all.

11/03/2013 at 11:01

+1 with the "what works for one doesnt necessarily work for all" comment

neither barefoot/midfoot/heelstrike is right or wrong - we are all different - and my view is "if it ain't broke why try to fix it".

I would love to see some opinions from the barefoot zealiots about the shoes I run in - Hoka One Ones - which have the deepest cushioning out there!  however they have a small heel to to drop (4-6mm) and a rocker motion to promote a midfoot strike.  they were originally designed with lots of cushioning to help with off-road ultras where you can be running over all sorts of things likes rocks and the cushioning helps protect the feet.

I adopted them when I had plantar fasciitis last year as I'd read loads of reports of how people with PF did much better with Hokas and I agree - they haven't cured it by any means but have made it more manageable due to the cushioning.  the midfoot strike also helps keep the weight of the heel a bit and as a previously natural heelstriker, it's taken a little while to adapt.  but I'm up to 3hr+ runs now with minimal after effects

I also tried the barefoot approach as a cure to the PF - sod that, it hurt my calves too much!

 

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