Am I being a bit thick? Where are you meant to do it? 3 mile long sandy beaches in the UK are not exactly around every corner and there are not many parks in the average town where you could get more than a two mile loop. Even then, there are surely lots of dangerous things to tread on!
I don't really know too much about the technical side other than what I've read above, but surely unless you like doing lots of laps of the same route for every training run, it must be pretty impractical?
There are quite a few people in my club who have read about the theory and are keen to try it, but I can't think of anywhere in the vicinity to go.
Inchers, before I took the plunge I was in the same position as you and your friends for a while. I've never run on a track and hated the idea of running laps. I've also got that typical morbid fear of stepping on something nasty.
I'm lucky to have a three-quarter mile stretch of sandy beach (and the sand isn't too soft, either) near me, although there are still plenty of pebbles I could break a toe on and obviously it means running the same stretch a number of times.
If you really want to give it a go, it needs to be that kind of thing or running laps of a sports field. Your chances of stepping on something are, in reality, minimal. It helps you keep your head in the correct position, though: upright and scanning the ground 5-10 metres in front of you. Easier to make a start once the days begin getting longer. Once your feet get stronger, that's when the appeal of minimalist shoes comes in: no more boring laps and freedom to go anywhere.
I switched from increasingly more expensive motion control shoes that I've been running in for at least 9 years to pure barefoot last summer. My shin splints that have bothered me for at least 5 of those years...gone. My arch pain...gone. I started from pure scratch, running about 1/4 mile a few times a week barefoot in between my normal shod 7-11 milers. As others have noted, there really isn't much in the street that you would think would be dangerous. If you're worried about stepping on something, it's very simple: look where you are going to put your feet.
Barefoot on a hard surface (concrete) teaches you very quickly how you should be striking, and I began incorporating better technique learned barefoot into my shod runs. Eventually got really sick of trying to run with a midfoot strike in "running" shoes with a thick heel, so I got a pair of FiveFingers; Haven't looked back, my $150 Brooks are now collecting dust in a closet. I ran a half shod two years ago in 1:51. Ran one last year in my Vibrams in 1:45, with half the training and a horrible pre-race day routine (read: imbibing to excess).
For the vocal doubters out there, it's rather simple. You can denounce barefooting all you want, but until you actually try it correctly, please stop, you aren't being taken seriously. It's fun, it's healthy, it will strengthen your muscles (trust me, I had no idea how weak my calves really were) and there is absolutely no reason not to try it; but slowly, patiently, and with a full understanding that you are learning to do something brand new that you likely haven't done since you were a child.
When I run barefoot, I smile a lot. Usually the whole run. Can you say the same?
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