Barefoot Running Friend Or Foe?

September 11, 2015

A couple weeks ago a guy from IPTV contacted me about a project he is doing on Barefoot running that will be aired October 1st if you want to watch me run like an idiot on TV. Apparently he read an article from a couple years ago and wanted an interview. I haven't been able to do a lot of barefoot running this summer but we went out and did some shooting anyway.

Being on camera is always an interesting process and today my feet are letting me know I need to get out there more...soreness. But the ground was perfect for it.

During the interview I realized how misguided the barefoot craze has really left the general population. So, there in lies the inspiration for this newsletter. Please forward this on to anyone that you know who is a runner. Barefoot training can be a great tool, as long as it's appropriate for the individual of course. However, some of these activities are just absurd, such as barefoot on concrete or minimalist shoes on even surfaces.  

See, the genius of barefoot running has extremely little to do with stimulating your feet nor dorsiflexion of the ankle.
 
The genius of barefoot running is that it is a 'self limiting exercise'.
 
Meaning, it will stop you prior to you doing harm to your body, and force you to find far superior means (for example: shorter distances done much faster on surfaces such as grass, dirt, or sand, instead of concrete), as well as a proper foot strike every time (otherwise it'd result in pain). This literally happens on an unconscious level and in immediate time.
 
A human's endurance/heart will almost always outlast the rest of the body (particularly the joints). Modern footwear is so amazing that we can now repeatedly place extremely large volumes (miles and/or time) on the body for months/years without realizing the damage it's doing up the chain (knees, hips, hormones, soft tissues)....until it's too late.
 
At the simplest level, pain/injury is your body telling you to STOP. Running barefoot makes you limit yourself before you're able to do something stupid. As in run too far, too slow, too many days in a row. 
 
Yes, humans are extremely good at running long distances. We ran our food to death for a good portion of our existence. This is why we can run at a galloping pace for so long. Sun hits us on the top of the head and shoulders, not our torso where our organs work and we are the absolute best at sweating. Most animals take sun on their entire torso and don't sweat. We processed heat better. So we ran them to heat exhaustion and then killed them.
 
However this does NOT mean that we're set up to do this EVERY SINGLE DAY. Especially as we age.  
 
Whatever shoe type you're going with change your training style to:

1) Go shorter faster. For example: Run 8x100yd repeats with 60s Rest

2) Less frequency, if it's "your time" then take up a new hobby, or start meditating. GET IN TOUCH WITH YOUR DIAPHRAGM

3) Start lifting. Strength is your best friend in the endurance game. 


Other self limiting exercises include but are not limited to:
 
Stand Up Paddleboarding, which also happens to be one of my personal favorites 

Jump rope. You’re going to say “I’ve had enough of this” before the body develops problems. You will also not slouch as you can while running. You’re foot will likely hit the ground much better and you’ll be learning/teaching how to move properly simply through an act that you already know how to do. It let’s your body work the way it should and wants to but cannot from the way we’ve treated it for years. 

Rocking climbing 

Wrestling/Sparring/Martial Arts could be considered self limiting on some level.

And lifting weights can be considered self limiting as well. If you know what you are doing and have developed a good relationship with your body. In theory, one would stop when they cannot lift a weight, but at some point many of us get an ego going hard enough to sacrifice technique for a PR, which many times actually sacrifices a joint to injury. Been there. NOT worth it. Seriously 

Remember that the grind is important but pain is NOT. 

Do NOT take barefoot running to concrete, treadmills, or other hard services. This would negate the purpose. The point is to learn to run BETTER, in order to feel and move better. This way we take more from our time and efforts that hopefully lead to more enjoyment in other areas of our lives, which I would think to be the reason for exercising in the first place.

In almost every meeting I've ever had, a persons reason for exercise always comes around to some version of "to have an improved life experience", and I couldn't agree more. 
 

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