October 15, 2009

Barefoot Running - Hype or Help?

Barefoot running is suddenly the hottest topic in the sport. Everyone is reading Born to Run and more than half the athletes I know spend a portion of their running time in Nike Free or similar minimalist shoes. When I first read about crazy people doing marathons barefoot I thought it was ridiculous. How can that possibly be safe? Or comfortable?

Prior to my injury I had considered doing one short run per week in the Frees in an effort to strengthen my feet and beat my chronic PF. But now it looks like I'll have to keep running in my "little foot coffins" as referenced in this New York Times article, "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants." It's an interesting article, recently sent to me by my dad after getting it from a friend of his who runs in the Vibram FiveFingers. Perhaps after my recovery I can give one of these alternative shoes a try and see for myself.


  1. Here is my input as a minimalist runner.

    Nike Frees are just about as far from minimal shoes as Brooks Beasts. Look at XC flats, or my new pair of Puma K Streets as minimal shoes. Than of course there are the Vibrams.

    Or another way to put it. You mentioned running once per week in Frees to strengthen your feet. Even if you ran only in Frees for two months, and switched to Vibrams you would instantly notice how week your feet actually are.

    Check out this link for a great "how to" start barefoot/minimal running. You must be very careful to avoid Too Much Too Soon injuries, since you have spent a lifetime in shoes and switching to minimal/barefoot is a drastic change at first. http://www.runnersworld.com/community/forums/index.jsp?plckForumPage=ForumDiscussion&plckDiscussionId=Cat:Runner+CommunitiesForum:887b8e6c-ecb8-4ae7-a3ef-0f12bf559034Discussion:2c7dc132-60c7-47d3-85f2-04e903582d8c

    I feel that running in minimal shoes saved my feet. I had Plantar Fasciitis and switched to Vibrams and have not had any trouble. My feet are also much stronger and I am running farther then ever before.

    If anyone else is interested more in minimal running, check out my blog. There are plenty of thoughts and ramblings about it. Or if you have any other questions feel free to email, facebook, or reply to a post of mine.

  2. You should check out my friend Kyle, he runs almost exclusively in Vibrams and has done like TONS of big runs in them.


  3. I like my Vibrams a lot and did at least one run per week and also several hikes with them over the summer.... Never had any issues/ pain after those... It's worth a try I think, as soon as your PF is healed! Have a good weekend!

  4. I have a friend who did his first totally barefoot marathon (his link is in my blog -- going the distance minimally, or something like that). good luck and let us know how it goes.

  5. I'm personally skeptical. After getting some major tendinitus(sp) after my Ironman: I used a Zoot racing flat.



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