I’m going to start this by saying barefoot running is completely new to me. I just started two and a half weeks ago.
Basically, the idea is that shoes can promote bad running form. If you are wearing really cushioned shoes, striking the ground with bad form isn’t going to hurt (until later when your knees, hips and/or back get sore). If you don’t have shoes on, the pain is evident much sooner and you self-correct. Some people who want to run barefoot but are worried about roughing up their feet wear minimalist shoes like Vibram FiveFingers. I ran into a guy at the park last night wearing a pair. He had really bad Achilles problems even when wearing running shoes that were fitted for him. Then he switched to VFFs and now he’s good to go.
I don’t even know when I first heard about barefoot running but I definitely remember when I met my first barefoot runner:
A few days after my magical encounter, a friend forwarded me this article with the note, “BAREFOOT RUNNING!” A few months after that, another article and then another appeared in my inbox. During this time I was training for my first marathon and while barefoot running sounded really fun, I didn’t see time for it in my training schedule. Then I saw barefoot runners during my marathon. Without even thinking about it, “You’re my hero!” blurted out of my mouth as I passed them. A few weeks after my marathon, I finished reading Born to Run. It is a really inspiring book about ultramarathoners, a superhuman tribe in Mexico that can run hundreds of miles without getting tired, and a barefoot runner named Ted. After reading it I was determined to add some barefoot runs to my training routine. I was thinking something like running on the grass after a workout. Then I went to watch the LA Marathon. There were 10 barefoot runners. One of them was super fast, finishing under 3 hours! You better believe I was shouting, “You’re my hero!”
It only took a few hours for me to realize I wanted to be one of them. That night, before I had even attempted running without my shoes on, I decided I was going to run the LA Marathon barefoot in 2011.
While I understand some people switch to barefoot running because of injuries, really I just want to do it because it seems really badass.