Got Any Tips For Transitioning to Barefoot Running/Walking?
by Max Allan Mosesman
(La Crescenta, CA, USA)
Max's Question: Andrew, I really enjoyed your articles on barefoot running. I could tell you did quite a bit of research, and then condensed it all into your articles. Very useful for barefoot new-comers like me.
I'm 19, currently taking an academic year off, and well...primarily eating raw and walking/running barefoot.
I ran cross country/track in high school, and I'm picking running up again naturally.
All of us shoe-conditioned runners, usually have a weakness - somewhere, unless you are pretty invincible. Mine was my achilles/soleous.
It started acting up again when I started running in my old shoes. Old conventions, in my head, said buy a new pair of running shoes. A more conscious/aware part of me, spoke up and said take the friggin shoes off.
Unplanned Test #1: As per daily ritual, I walk my dogs, from my house, uphill to a park. I was wearing my rainbow sandals (brown rubbery things), and my soleous still hurt.
Without any clear verbal communication, I intuitively took off my rainbows, and walked my second dog back up to the hill, AND NO PAIN~!! I walked much slower, and more careful, and had to pick things out of my feet every once in a while, but NO PAIN.
I BELIEVE in BAREFOOT WALKING.
After using custom orthodic after orthodic, and running shoes, and sandals, I realize that the answer to a lot of our problems is usually to Simplify. TO REMOVE, rather than add. Or maybe do a little bit of both. But CLEARING space is so key for me to staying healthy. For example, clearing materials out of my life. It's a physical increase in space, but OH MYYY, how it affects me emotionally/mentally. It's like I FEEL lighter.
Anyways, back on track. I want to BELIEVE in barefoot RUNNING, but know it will take some time building up to it.
Still, I had a few questions about running barefoot. 1) What kind of Vibram 5-fingers did you first get, and what kind would you recommend?
2) You mentioned using the Vibrams when the mileage got a bit higher - past a few miles. So would you say most training runs for you are 50% barefoot, 50% vibram?
3) Sounds like on Races, you tend to use Vibrams. Why is that so?
4) ...I believe that someday I can run barefoot, but I have all sorts of self-limiting beliefs about ASphalt...Rocks in trails...How/when/what type of Vibrams I should use.
I'm gonna go, and see if I can tear those self-limiting beliefs down. Wish me luck!
Thanks for all your support. YOU ROCK BRO
- Max Allan Mosesman
Just to put a face to the name, I attached a photo. (I'm on the far right, at an Architecture Critique of our group Bench Design. ...Given this academic year off, I won't be returning to architecture... Kinda funny too, if you look closely in that photo - I'm holding a book - It is the Stories and Myths of the Navajo - that Native American class changed my life - one more step that literally catapulted me into NATURAL ALTERNATIVES to REGAIN and AID our Natural Healing capabilities - physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Suhweet class.)Andrew's Answer:
Hi Max. Glad you've realized the value of barefoot/minimalist running. It's a fantastically freeing experience to escape the footwear that causes our running problems.
1) If you haven't seen it, I've written a review of the Vibrams here
. I got the KSOs first, and although I've tried all the flavors since, I still prefer them because they fit me better. I have a broad forefoot and a narrow heel, and the models without the strap tend to fall off/flop.
2) I'm not sure what exactly you mean by training runs. A short run of less than three miles I might do all barefoot, if I feel like it. On a longer 15-20 miles run I might start off in my five fingers but then take them off for several miles at a time.
I find these periodic unshod miles keep me honest, giving me the feedback I lack in five fingers. My form improves and so does my overall run.
3) I have to be more careful when barefoot, paying very close attention to my terrain, dodging sharp rocks, jagged pavement, and broken glass. In short, I slow down. Some people race barefoot, but I prefer Five Fingers or other minimalist footwear to shield my feet when I'm concentrating on speed.
4) Not sure if this one is a question :) Just be aware that the the experience of trying to run barefoot teaches us more than you'll ever get from a book. I've been doing it for several years now and I still periodically make realizations that allow me to improve my form. I'm still continuously seeking feedback on my running from those who are better than myself. Just keep learning.
Best of luck,