Why I Barefoot Run

I’m a runner. Sometimes. When I’m not injured.

Happy, but would I be happier without shoes?

Happy, but would I be happier without shoes?

Although I’ve always done a bit of running, I never thought of myself of a runner until 2012 when I completed the 6 mile Sport Relief run without stopping for a breather. A month later I did my first 10k in under 44 minutes. I was hooked.

In 2013 I joined Beverley AC. In my first year of training with the club I made big improvements. I was rewarded with winning the Most Improved Runner award for that year. Shortly afterwards, disaster struck. Shin splints. For a few days I could barely walk, let alone run. I rested but they didn’t get better, so after a month I saw a physio. It was so sore I almost hit the ceiling when he squeezed my leg.

Despite physio treatment, it took me a couple of months before I could start running again. Out of the window went all my plans to make similar gains in speed that I made the previous year. I started training again, and a couple of months later got a new 10k PB. However, this came at the cost of my calves which felt tight for 2 weeks afterwards. My running was all wrong. I no longer felt confident. I needed to find an alternative training strategy.

Through reading running magazines, I was aware that some people ran barefoot. I was intrigued, but no one I knew ran without shoes, so I didn’t feel confident to start. Then I ran Born to Run which explains why the modern trainer is the work of the devil, and this made me think that this was the way forward. I was sick of being sold “stability shoes” and being recommended orthotics, as if my feet are inherently faulty. How many people have faulty hands? Not many. So why should we all have faulty feet?

Out of frustration I ran 10 miles along the beach barefoot. My average speed wasn’t fast but I survived. In fact, despite suffering massive blood blisters, I felt great. There was something in this I thought, it’s just a shame that most of the world is not “barefoot friendly”. It’s full of gravel and tarmac and thorns.

For Christmas I asked for a number of running books as presents. One of them was Barefoot Running Step By Step by Ken Bob Saxton. I put off reading it until January when I got a chest infection which forced me to stay indoors. I soaked in the contents and couldn’t wait to get started. The only trouble was, it was February, and the ground was freezing.

In such a situation, I would naturally recommend minimalist running shoes. But Ken Bob is quite insistent that barefoot is best, and minimalist shoes lead to more injury. As a compromise I put on socks as Ken Bob says this is the next best thing to barefoot. Now it is March I’ve started running without socks. This blog will hopefully chart my progress from there.

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