Running does not require a lot of fancy equipment. I am fortunate to have a treadmill in my fitness room but it certainly isn’t necessary. Most people will tell you to get a good pair of shoes but after doing a lot of reading on the subject I have learned that shoes aren’t even necessary. Many experts are now saying that our shoes may have a lot to do with our injuries.

So, all we need is what god gave us…we are designed to run. Great name for a book, “Born to Run” which as millions of people to know is already a book and in fact a National Bestseller. It is on my reading list as are a few others (Barefoot Running Step by Step, Tread Lightly, The Barefoot Running Book, and maybe even Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself.)

The most important piece of equipment we have is our bodies and minds. I included our mind because it is really easy to overdo it and end up with an injury. They call it Too Much Too Soon TMTS. Next thing on the list is enough clothing to keep you from getting arrested for streaking. If you are like me even walking down the sidewalk barefoot feels indecent for some reason. A little side note here. Yesterday I decided I would be brave and walk part of the way home from work barefoot. I had on black pants and my feet are really white so it was pretty obvious that I didn’t have my shoes on. I felt self-conscious and it didn’t help that people would look at my feet and look away. They are really white but otherwise pretty normal looking feet I think. Anyhow, I started thinking that maybe I was paranoid and imagining it. Then just before I got to the spot I was going to put my shoes back on a lady walking her dog pointed to my feet and informed me that I didn’t have my shoes on. I didn’t laugh nor did I come up with a clever response like “Yeah, they stink” just agreed with her and walked on.

So, why go barefoot then if people are going to give me strange looks? Well from what I have learned it is the surest way to exercise my feet. This exercise if not over done will help me to run longer and farther without injury. It will strengthen the ligaments, tendons and muscles that allow us to run for long distances. I’ve read scientific reports from Harvard and excerpts of other medical reports on the benefits of running barefoot. But, what really has me convinced to give this a go is that when I am barefoot I can tell exactly when I am running properly and when I’m not.

Later when I have the mechanics of running properly and all of the poor habits of running in shoes that have a big rubber heel I will look into getting a pair of minimalist shoes. I don’t know what I will choose or if perhaps I will choose several pair. If I can stick to the program not doing too much too soon I should be a stronger runner with decent form in 4 to 6 months. This seems like a long time but I would rather be safe than sorry. I’ve switched to flat shoes with zero drop (no heel or wedge) which will help my Achilles tendon and calf muscles adapt. I’m walking around the house barefoot more which helps me get over the whole tenderfoot issue of sensitive soles. I shortened my runs on the treadmill and am running barefoot which will strengthen my legs and feet. Also, I am using a metronome to get my pace up to over 180 beats per minute.

My wife thinks I am crazy and now you probably do too.

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About Tom Bachant

I live in Alaska and enjoy reading, SCUBA, and weightlifting.

4 responses »

  1. Go for the barefoot, it certainly is worth a try even if you drift towards minimalist shoes in the end! The crazy comments etc. are to be expected and can be very funny. There are also sensations that just can’t be adequately described & you will never experience unless you try it, good ones I mean, (e.g. the coolness on an earthy forest path after the sunshine heat on tarmac)!

  2. Tom Bachant says:

    Kevin, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I am training barefoot as I believe that it is my best chance to become a decent runner. Once I have the form and strength I will probably go toward minimalist shoes.

  3. AJ says:

    In dance you are practically barefoot and I used to tape my toes and constantly work on my feet to keep then healthy. However, I find running barefoot causes my arches to fall, so I prefer a light sneaker with arch support. One of my best friends prefers running barefoot. I think it is most important to listen to your feet and body and allow yourself to determine what is best. No one knows your feet better than you.

  4. Jim Brennan says:

    As much research as this is supporting barefoot running, especially since Born to Run by Christopher Mc Dougall was published a few years ago, there is just as much research supporting it can be harmful. I remember running the 2005 Boston Marathon and there was a barefoot runner, so it’s not necessarily a new trend. I used to run barefoot on the beach, but even wear running shoes in the sand today. I suppose, like everything else in life, it’s up to the individual, your bone structure, posture, etc. At least today you can split the difference and go with a minimalist running shoe. Runn on, my friend.

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