Have you heard of the barefoot running craze? Did you know that the Stanford track team practices barefoot and only puts on their Nike shoes for competitions? Barefoot running sounds hard on the feet… could it actually be good for your health and training?
When I heard that the book Born to Run was based on an ancient tribe in Mexico and their ultra-running culture, I was immediately turned off. It just sounded a little too far-fetched for me. But it was recommended by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing and a voice I highly respect. It took me a couple months to get into the book; Katie and her dad beat me to it. They said it’s a must-read. So read I did. And it’s changed everything.
The idea of the book is this: our feet were made to run, and all of the “protection” of high-end running shoes inhibit their ability to get stronger. Essentially the cushion prevents our feet from being stressed and this eventually weakens the feet, leading to injury. In another post, I’ll do a book review of Born to Run. Today, I’d like to tell you about my experience with barefoot running.
My running career consists of two half marathons and three full marathons. I have an educational background in biomechanics and exercise physiology. Born to Run drew on these collective experiences and knowledge and convinced me to at least try to train part-time barefoot running.
I bought my Vibram Five Fingers three weeks ago partially on a birthday gift from my brother-in-law, Peter. It is very important to know that you don’t just jump into training barefoot. So I’ve progressed from quarter-mile runs to about three miles yesterday. This has taken place over the last three weeks. Currently I’m on vacation in Sanibel Island, Florida and I just completed a 38-minute run in my Vibrams.
Many people ask, “How does it feel?” Friends on Facebook are asking, “How do your ankles and calves respond?” My answer aligns perfectly with one of my principles of training: progression is essential.
My feet hurt pretty bad after my first couple weeks of running in the Vibrams. But I could literally feel my feet getting stronger. I know the biomechanics of my feet and their high arches. I know I’ve done a bunch of sprinting on the balls of my feet and barefoot running on grass and sand. So I know the science says they’ll get stronger. But as with any form of training, there’s a breakdown phase before there’s a strengthening phase. I’m starting to get stronger.
In Summary: Born to Run convinced me to explore the barefoot running method. I bought Vibram Five-Fingers and have been progressively training longer distances in them. I have a long way to go to change my running form. But as an athlete and a trainer, I’ve dedicated my life to helping people understand health and fitness. This is just one other component to training of which I’m seeking to become an expert.
Any questions? Find me on Facebook or ask in the Comments section. In my next post, I’ll talk about my first water-shed running moment – my first mile run in the Vibrams followed by four miles in my running shoes.