Talkback: Dare to Bare: The Truth about Barefoot Running (Preview)

21 to 26 of 26 messages
10/03/2012 at 16:53
I have been doing about a mile 3-4 times a week in vivo barefoots I find them much comfier that vff's I'm just hoping to strengthen my feet and calfs, normally I run with orthotics but I would love to get strong enough to one day ditch them! I'm in no rush to build my barefoot distance though, slowly does it! I am thinking of getting some smarter vivo barefoots to wear to work too
12/03/2012 at 15:23

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.

13/03/2012 at 10:14

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.  

Edited: 13/03/2012 at 10:15
13/03/2012 at 13:54
Inchers i think thats a pretty standard fear when looking into BFR, but you'd be surprised how clear the pavements are around the uk. Next time your out for a run keep your eyes down and see how much actual glass/syringes/dog mess you encounter, i think you'll be surprised by how little there actually is. Obviously this does depend where your running but from my experience pavements generally aren't as bad as you think and roads are nearly always clear of rubbish. You do tend to watch the ground a bit more though and its not that hard to change your gait to miss anything unpleasant that you come across.

I've also heard that you are worse off running on grass as you don't get the feedback from it and also anything painful can be hidden by the grass.
13/03/2012 at 16:05
Suburban pavements are fine in my neck of the woods. On the rare occasions that I see broken glass ahead I cross the road, I have never seen a syringe and dog mess can be avoided. Winter can be a bit cold and autumn is annoying due to lots of knobbly berries and sharp twigs.

To give myself confidence the first time, I went out wearing my shoes ,checking for nasties and then removed my shoes at the half way point to retrace my steps home.

I can currently do 5k barefoot on rough Tarmac and concrete, but wear minimalist shoes for the majority of my runs.
21/03/2012 at 01:22

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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