Barefoot Running: Foot Fetish or Foot in Mouth?

National Running Day - High Five!

It’s National Running Day! This is the second annual National Running Day if your counting, and if you’re wondering, wth it is:
National Running Day is a national initiative of the major organizations within the running industry to join forces in an unprecedented unified effort to nationally promote running as a healthy, easy, and accessible form of exercise.

Take 5 or 50 minutes, but go for a run and participate. Come on, everyone else is doing it. I partook in a run this AM followed by some cycling. I have a fabulous biking story to share, stay tuned. And more beautimous pictures from Boulder, CO are forthcoming.

Getting back to bizniss, have y’all heard about the latest running crazies craze?

Barefoot and pregnant is a term we use in the south, but as of late I hear more and more (sometimes at nauseum) about “barefoot” running.

I grabbed Fitness magazine at the airport and there was a barefoot running snippet flat in front of me. My MI bestie eerily and randomly sent me a link to a barefoot running HBO Sports show just yesterday. From the desk of Nic B, “Saw this in HBO Sports show last night and thought I’d mention it to you Barefoot Runner. Basically, this guy Christopher McDougall argues that running shoes are the reason for running injuries and he’s a huge proponent of this barefoot running movement. His book, Born to Run, has been recommended to me by several members of my family who know I’m just starting to build my interest in running. So I bought it on Amazon this morning.”


Isn’t Born to Run Springsteen’s TM? Sigh, I am forced to ponder this foot fetish. OK you want the unfiltered, uneducated opinion, below are my terms to Barefoot Running.

Conditions to being barefoot y’all:
– grass with no dog poo
– roads with no sharp objects or massive potholes
– sandy beaches without sharp shells
– someone to manicure whatever I’m running on and someone to pedicure what I’m running on – my feets!

We’ve seen the webbed “five fingered” shoes and heard about the benefits, including reducing the force of impact on your body and burning more calories because you engage more muscles to stabilize your feet, but where on God’s green earth (literally) can I attempt this for more than a few minutes. A long run? Maybe around a football field for an hour.

My Barefoot Running Shoes

I am all about natural, organic, even earthy is nomenclature I can agree with, but if we are trying to get back to nature we must also consider the evolution of our surroundings. My feet are conditioned to be, well wimpy. Heels aren’t exactly Dr Scholl’s best friend. Runner’s feet look like shasta from shoes, and I can only imagine what my feet would like after a tough barefoot run.

Am I being naive? I need some schooling on this ten-toed naked craze. Put your best foot forward and let me know if this is fad or legit.


9 responses to “Barefoot Running: Foot Fetish or Foot in Mouth?

  1. lol love your running shoes! I saw this too and I’m with you – total fad. It just seems uncomfortable to me (not to mention totally hideous).

    First time at your site and I’m liking it! You’re a pretty funny girl (:

  2. Maybe I am being blasphemous when I say this, but I also feel like it’s a passing fad. Advocates for it make great points about its benefits, but I agree with you — we also need to take into account the evolution of our surroundings! So I don’t know — maybe I am also being naive but for now, I will be happily sticking with my running shoes.

  3. Considering how our ancestors ran on TRAILS which I personally think is significantly harder than cement/concrete running, I think our feet are weak because we don’t let them develop the way they were supposed to.

    I ran my first Half Marathon in Vibrams on Sunday. Great.

    I’ve SEEN two guys run completely barefoot on cement and gravel. You naturally land softer. Instead of being a runner pounding pavement and being…disturbing, you become one with your surrounding.

    My question to you is…why do you run?

    I run because it cleanses my soul since I can connect with my environment. I connect with my environment by kissing the ground I run on with my feet.

    You will NEVER hear a barefoot runner run up on you. We’re stealthy. We’re silent. Like predators. The way we were supposed to be. You will always hear shod-runners from miles away. They’re loud. Because they’re over-striding.

    You can think of it as a craze. But unlike quinoa, chia seeds, and grass-fed beef, barefoot running is free. It’s about running in your birthday shoes. Using what was naturally given to you. And believe me, your body is WAY more adaptable than you think it is.

    I need to train more fully barefoot. I run in Vibrams most of the time but my goal by the end of summer is to be able to run a full 5K race barefoot.

    Let me know if you have questions. A lot of the idea about stepping in glass and potholes…you’ll avoid them. Barefoot runners pay attention to the road ahead of them, they scan (like how you are supposed to run on a trail) because it’s a natural reaction. And so you step in dog poo. No big deal. There’s this thing called soap 🙂

    It does take conditioning and re-developing your atrophied muscles, but it’s more natural. I think it’s strange that people are so willing to give up high fructose corn syrup (which is manufactured) but not running shoes (which is also manufactured and there has been no evidence that demonstrates that running shoes decrease running-related injuries.

    Man, this should’ve been an email 🙂

  4. I’ve been running/walking barefoot on my treadmill for about six years. My feet are not pretty. However, I don’t really care, they’re made to carry me. Shoes have caused problems for me in the past (blisters, shin splints, stress fracture). So, I looked into barefoot running and went for it. I recently bought the Vibram FiveFingers for an outdoor 10k and I really liked them. They’re very close to being barefoot. If you decide to do it, you have to build up, it takes a couple of months to develop the calluses and muscles. This website has great info:

  5. I’ve been running “barefoot” for 3 months now. I used to do 8-12 miles on the weekends with shoes and never really had a running injury, but my right hamstring was often painfully tight. It was so bad 2 years ago while marathon training that I had to stop biking (made it worse) and get a lot of massage.

    I started working the barefoot running into my regular runs, starting 1/2 mile at a time. Once I was up to 4 miles, I have not worn shoes since. I usually call it “minimal” running though because I wear aqua shoes with soles about 4 mm thick and plenty of room for toes to spread. I’m deployed to Afghanistan and we have a lot of big rocks (do NOT land on one! It causes a bad bone bruise) and also hook worm, so actual bare feet are not a good idea.

    I run silently and smoothly and am faster now than I was before. I run mostly on the dirt or gravel at the side of the road, rather than on the pavement. It’s much softer that way.

    My hamstring pain is completely gone. The back pain I used to get after a long run never occurs. I will not go back to shoes. Bummer, because I bought 2 nice pair of Saucony before I came here!

    • Fantastic story, appreciate you sharing. It’s something I have definitely considering trying. Barefoot running seems as minimalistic as running without headphones, something unique about it.

      Most importantly, you’re healthy!!

  6. I have been training wearing minimalistic shoes for 2 years now and let me tell you that it has been a slow journey ( a great one). Before i was always hurt and injured (torn achilles and heel spurs) but since i started training like this i have not suffer any more injuries; only at the beginning during the transition because my feet were so weak (like everybody else who wears modern running shoes).
    And we are creatures that are in constant adaptation and evolving and this is why we can surely adapt fairly quickly to running on asphalt.
    This is not a fad is just a movement to go back to nature and be in-sync with it.

  7. Pingback: Outside Magazine: The 10 Biggest Fitness Myths « Live for the Run·

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