Thursday, March 15, 2012

“Barefoot Running” WTF? LOL


Just for fun – in response to this “infographic”, here are my thoughts

1. “Barefoot running shoes” are still shoes. And despite considerably less materials and research, still cost about the same.

2. Bikila won the Olympic marathon barefoot in 1960. True. He wore shoes in 1964. His fastest marathon time was in 1964. Also true.

3. I have read articles that say that podiatrists have seen more running related injuries since the “barefoot revolution”. Especially cuts, bruises, plantar fasciitus, second metatarsal stress fractures, and Achilles tendonitis.

4. Most race winners wear shoes. Except the Tarahumara. Oh wait, they wear huraches. Which are sorta like sandals, which are a sorta shoe, which is sorta not barefoot.

5. I imagine that running through dog crap (broken glass etc) is considerably more pleasant in shoes than not.

6. I could write a book (well, at least a blog post) that hypothesizes that more injuries are caused by running too fast than anything else. It is just as plausible as McDougall’s theories.

7. How many of those 65-80% that receive an injury annually, don’t train regularly, run too fast, slip on ice, trip on trails etc.? Could it be a bit of a false correlation, kinda like saying “65% of cars have engine problems, all cars have tires, therefore we should drive with no tires.”

8. “1.25 more likely to have an injury in an expensive running shoe”. Here’s a thought – those who spend more money on shoes, are more likely to run more.

9. Just because it is in “Born to Run” doesn’t mean it is true.

10. Just because it is on the internet, doesn’t mean it is true. Please consider that this article is on the internet also (‘article’ LOL, WTF? article??)

But here is my honest opinion. Barefoot running and running in lightweight shoes can be fun and enjoyable. I certainly enjoy running in my Merrell Trail Gloves. It gives my feet a good strength workout, and over time can build up and strengthen Achilles and calf muscles etc. It also drastically reduces the risk of ankle rolls when trail running. Also, I enjoy the light weight of my Kinvaras, NB 101’s, [101’s – Best.Shoe.Ever.] I also enjoy their cushioning. The problem is that there are some who are promoting barefoot running as the be all and end all of running. It isn’t. Or at least that’s what I think. But WTF do I know?


  1. love it Jimbo! you had me lol-ing through the whole post!

    I enjoyed my trek through the woods in my socks when I forgot to bring my shoes one camping trip. My legs were sore for days! It was a nice change of pace. I will probably do it again for the fun of it.

    and yes, stepping in dog doo would be more pleasant with shoes than without ;)

  2. I alternate within a wide range of shoes from inov8 f-lite 195 , Newtons, to Hoka. This combination training works well for me. I am currently implementing a form of chi running into my running practice. Find what works for you. These teachings are sound but we have to be mindful of what our body is saying. If something sounds absurd, it probably is. Running is an art, and should be practiced.

  3. Barefoot running and, I would even expect, minimalist shoes are fads that will eventually diminish. When folks fully weigh the + and the - over time they will revert back to shoes.

    That said . . . lighter is better! And this 'revolution' will help improve running shoe design.

  4. I agree and disagree. I have drank the kool-aid and not.

    I loved Born to Run and it inspired me to consider options to traditional trainers. I trained barefoot up to 6 miles and dedicated myself to Vibrams for two years including three marathons and 46/50 mile ultra. The more minimalist effort did a great deal of positive on my development of a smooth low impact stride.

    After the DNF in the ultra I began exploring minimalist shoes and have owned and run in all but maybe three of the shoes on the graph on the link. I continue to work on my stride in a manner that could not be accomplished in traditional trainers. But I prefer the minimalist shoes over Vibrams.

    Everyone is an experiment of one. Statistics are going to be hard to quantify. I injured myself repeatedly as I transitioned to the Vibrams. Not because this style of running was inherently more dangerous, but because my ego prevented me from taking it slow as everyone should.

    Triple F: I agree there will be many folks returning to shoes with the feeling it was a crazy fad. But there will be many who maintain the minimalist option permanently (myself) and many who, having never explored traditional trainers (my 12 year old daughter), will never use traditional trainers.

    If we consider only the amount of money shoe company's are now pouring into minimalist market it is a sign then there is no fad, but a market share.

    And where I totally agree with everyone...
    If you argue ANY option is the only option and better than all others you are an idiot. Somehwhere between walking on tip toes and wearing a ski boot to run in there are a myriad of options. Each option can cause injury or be the perfect solution for someone.
    ...but I still love Born to Run.

  5. +1 with CJohnson and RedCoalCarpet

    IMHO - I think the term was coined from the idea that it was supposed to mimic the stride and feel of barefoot running - minimalist shoe seems to be the term used more frequently nowdays. FWIW There are a lucky few that actually do run barefoot like barefoot bob with zero issues and have been promoting the real thing for awhile FWIW, I've seen people run actually barefoot and in zoris (flip-flops) for an entire marathon without problems. Will I do that? Heck no.

    When running in shoes I try not to step in glass or dogcrap, and suspect those that run in minimal or "real barefoot" are probably more careful about where they step.

    Definitely agree: Like anything else, running with minimalist shoes will hurt and lead to injuries if not done appropriately.

    disclaimer: I've run in vibrams, "real barefoot", and even tried these But I gave up on the last two after handful of runs :-) It's great for some but not for me.

  6. Coming home the other week from treatment for PF issues, I saw some woman running barefoot (no vibrams ... totally barefoot) on the sidewalks of Chicago. It was one of our first spring-like days (but still 50-ish - those sidewalks were cold) and I could actually see her wincing with each stride.

    And because I run that route (in my Mizuno Waverider 15s) two times/week, I know she was dodging dog poo and broken glass.

    I've talked to my chiro about the theory behind it ... and that our big, rubbery soles have tricked us out of our foot feelings, which might make us hit harder than we should. But I can't help but see that woman's wincing face ... I'll keep my shoes on my feet, thank you!

    Funny post, btw!

  7. I agree a balanced approach is always best. Neither "side" has all the answers. But from my own experience I've gone totally barefoot and it has changed my running life completely. I'm no elite runner, but after 35 years of trying to train for a marathon, I know my body, and what works and what doesn't (for me). In shoes, whenever I ran more than about 6 miles I would have a really bad knee problem in one leg and nagging hamstring problem in the other. 3 1/2 years ago I tried barefoot (skin on ground) and haven't looked back. Last year I ran the Philly half marathon (unshod) and this year I expect to complete a marathon (unshod).

    I don't have a problem with poop. I carry around two really great finely tuned instruments with me, called eyes. I don't step on poop. Or large rocks. Or anything else that would hurt. I've never been cut by anything.

    I run all over lower Manhattan, 15 to 25 miles a week, in temperatures ranging from 27F to 90F.

    If you like shoes, great. Enjoy them!

    As for whether its a fad. Don't underestimate it. It's not for everyone but I think its here to stay. And I suggest you don't criticize it until you've tried it. At least once....