…this is what I thought as I ran past two runners the other morning. I was out for an easy cruise and heard one of the two ladies comment to her partner “Look! He is a barefoot runner”. I don’t mind the moniker but I realized how defining running barefoot or in “barefoot” shoes can be. I then had time to reflect on the numerous conversations I have had with clients over the 5 years since opening Distance Runwear and Form B4 Fitness. Most of my discussions begin with an explanation of why our Shoe Wall looks very different from every other running store they have been to.
The priority is to get people running in a more natural way and this means we have selected shoe brands that offer a variety of solutions with this goal in mind. We do not carry most of the major running shoe brands as they all seem to be happy following the lead of others rather than blazing a unique path.
Barefoot running always becomes the root of these interactions with my clients. The barefoot shoes or bare feet alone offer the easiest, safest and most effective path to running freedom…if done with control and patience. The limit, as I see it, is when you are pushing your limits of speed and/or endurance. In these situations you start to lose control of the basics in your stride and may put yourself at risk of injury from a misstep or a final mile push with bad form. It is for this reason I don’t consider myself a barefoot runner. I do run in my barefoot shoes at least 2 times a week but these runs are strictly easy outings with a focus on form and stride rate, I will be using barefoot shoes for my long easy runs and these will be pushing my distance a bit but again they are very slow and controlled. If I am racing, running hard tempo or other effort that will push me beyond my comfort zone I will choose one of my many more appropriate shoe options.
You can do all your running in barefoot shoes from 1k to 100k if, I believe, you keep your effort well within your own comfort zone. Most runners are looking to improve their personal bests or push themselves a little further and for this they need to embrace the barefoot shoes as a training tool and not a racing tool.
Barefoot shoes WILL make you faster…but you might not be faster in them.
Thanks for reading.