Friday, December 2, 2011

We Are Born with Running Shoes

Barefoot running, blah blah blah.  Forefoot striking, blah blah blah.

I'm not going to bore you with all sorts of information you probably already know about the semi-recent (last few years) idea about how we are meant to run.  If you are a newbie to the subject, there are many great resources, some are even listed over on the right.

Here's what I will say:
I had the fortunate opportunity to learn to run, and establish my form at a time when forefoot running was already being widely touted.  Books like Barefoot Running, ChiRunning, and Born to Run were already written and what seemed intuitive to me on my first run, was being declared the way to run.  Many long-time runners are not so lucky.  They have been running for years a certain way, striding long and striking/pounding the heel (also known as putting the brakes on) with each bound.  To reverse course and retrain their body is much more difficult than developing your form from your first run. 

Why do I tell you this?  Well, there are lots of studies appearing around the country telling us that the new form of running, and especially barefoot running, is bad for us and is resulting in more injuries, not less.  I don't purport to have scrutinized the findings of each of these studies and I am not writing this to denounce them.  I simply believe that the majority (but certainly not all) of injuries associated with either barefoot or forefoot running are related to doing too much, too soon. 

I will be forever grateful to Michael Sandler, who, in his short talk and clinic in South Miami, emphasized and pleaded with the audience to take things slow.  Painstakingly slow!  He knew that many in the crowd were running enthusiasts who simply wouldn't be able to resist a nice long run to test out their new lack of footwear, minimal footwear, or revamped stride.  He implored us to start completely barefoot, with the logic that the soft, tender skin on the bottom of your feet would tell you when to stop before your muscles and limbs did.  While I no longer run barefoot, Michael's approach allowed me to gradually add on, making sure my body was ready each time I increased distance or speed.

How should you run?  I can't tell you the answer, but I believe that in the coming years, and in future studies we will begin to learn more and more about the benefits of good running form.

Or just run like one of these guys:

 Thanks to and SwimBikeMom for the link!


  1. Classic clip!!! I totally love it!

    Will you be BFing in the freezing cold too? Or do you shoe up in winter?

    I'm a BFer too. I sometimes wear shoes if I need to or if I've overdone it (sometimes I go too far for my feet and get sore soles) but going BF is totally the best.

  2. I don't think I'm that brave! I've taken to running mostly in my racing flats (New Balance MR1400); they feel great but they seem to be wearing down rather quickly.

    My goal is to get back out in my VFF (I have the KSO Treks) during the off-season short runs.