Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We Started It :)

I have been running barefoot for a long time - summer of 04. But I don't do 100% of my mileage barefoot. My barefoot running mileage varies from about 0% in January and February to about 33% in the summer. I built into barefoot slowly back in 04. The rest of my running mileage is in those "minimal shoes". I will admit that in really really technical rocky trail situations I even still use something called a Brooks Cascadia - sometimes I screw sheet metal screws into the bottom of those Brooks when it is icy.

So why don't I run 100% barefoot? It is because I can not run fast enough for good race times when I am barefoot. Shoes allow me to break the rules of barefooting, yet allow me to have all the efficiency and injury prevention of barefoot training. For me, the sum of part-time barefoot running plus part time shod running is greater than its parts. Training and racing in minimal shoes allows me to focus on my speed and effort rather than where I am putting my feet, especially on rocky trails, but also on pavement. Yet, even in shoes I can run more efficiently than I did in those pre-barefoot technique days. I can go farther, faster, with less effort because of barefoot technique.

I was up to almost 100% barefoot running in spring/summer/fall a couple of years ago. But I was pushing it, so it led to Achilles tendinitis and a couple of broken toes. Perhaps as much injury as shod runners experience. I decided compromise is best for competitive running improvement.

And I do try to live life as barefoot as possible to support the running part.

The reason I am putting forth this treatise, is because I think some barefoot runners simply protest too much. Yes, running barefoot is great! It prevents and cures injuries; it makes people run right; it simply feels good! But barefoot running has come a long way in the past couple of years. There are some great choices for minimalist shoes that were not there before. There are finally better choices than aqua socks, duct tape, hurraches and VFF's. Those choices would not have come into existence without us barefoot runners. When people post about minimalist shoes, or use that oxymoron "barefoot shoes", we should not go ballistic. That makes us sound insecure. We should sit back and smile, knowing we started it all.


Anonymous said...

Sound disappointing. Seems like "minimalist shoes" manufacturers use bf runners for "almost free" promotion of their shoes.

Dave said...

Agreed, barefoot running has paved the way for the seemingly more mainstream minimalist shod running. Both are extremely important tools in training. The whole BF movement of recent times helped bring the theories to light for me and I've transitioned to running 100% of my running in light weight racers with short strengthening runs in my vibrams! Thanks for paving the way and opening to eyes that sometimes, less is more!!