Monday, 28 March 2011

Barefoot Experiments

Anyone who's been underway in the running blogosphere in the last couple of years will know that barefoot running has been recieving a lot of interest lately. Personally i dont see it as a all powerfull panacea to correct all woes. But i do believe that it does have its place as a tool in the modern runners box of tricks.

I walk around in barefeet quite a lot, in fact you could say that I prefer barefeet around the house and in the garden. I have been doing form drills, and strides in barefeet prior to a run, when i had time and a suitable place. Occasionally i have done a little bit of a cool down run barefoot in a field, but id never really set out to do a barefoot run.

That was until recently, my kids have been showing an interest in running, and with a local fun run coming up have started to train for it. The distance they cover in a jog is only a couple of Kilometers, Initially i was just jogging along with them, but last week while running back through the small forest near our village i realised that if we ran in the forest on the packed earth trails there then i could run in barefeet.

So last week i went for my first ever 'barefoot run' that is the first time i set out to run the whole way in barefeet. I walked fromt he house to the edge of the forest, and then we ran about 2.5km through the forest together. Afterwards the soles of my feet were quite tender but not uncomfortably so, but i wouldnt want to have run any further. I didnt experience any calf soreness or achilies soreness as is so often reported when first doing barefoot running. perhapes my frequent barefoot state around home has helped here.

I had a second barefoot run this past weekend, we ran about the same distance, this time the soles of my feet didnt have anywhere the same level of tenderness that i felt the first time. On arriving back at the house our neighbours were outside, they were a little astounded that i ran in barefeet, even admonishing me that tommorow i would have a cold... i havent had a cold all winter this year, and ive run in rain, wind, sleet, snow, and below zero temperatures. A barefoot run in spring is hardly going to give me a cold. But its still a fairly widely held 'Folks wisdom' here that not wearing shoes will give you a cold...

The plan from here on is to run barefoot whenever i accompany my kids on their training runs, then in a few more months i may look at getting some minimalist shoes for my regular morning recuperation jogs. As for my 'regular training' i dont really want to sacrifice millage there to experiment either with barefeet or super minimalist shoes, however i will be trying to slowly transition to lighter and flatter shoes.


  1. Spot on Paul. I use vibrams every week, just to keep the muscles in my feet and legs working the way they're supposed to and so that I can use lightweight racers instead of cushioned shoes for most other days.

    Now if only I could get the kids off the couch.

  2. Id love to try a pair of VFF's or even the new Merell Trail gloves but there's nothing in the local shops, and im hesitant to order anything over the internet that i havent first tried on in person. So its barefoot for the next little while at least. Maybe ill be able to try them out at the Marathon Messe in Vienna if they have some there.

    As for getting the kids of the couch... mine currently fight over who gets to wear my Garmin this time round :)