You know all that hype about…


“barefoot running”?

Well, I have a confession.

But I’ll get to that in a second.

I’ll be the first person to admit that when I hear about runners who hit the trails shoe-less, I roll my eyes at the concept. I am a huge skeptic. Especially about how “fantastic” barefoot running is for your legs/knees/feet. How it has some magical way of curing any ailments you have from running. I thought to myself “It’s just a fad. It’s all hype. It’s probably just because I live in Boulder”. Even when my 2 friends started reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall and they’d tell me all the stuff McDougall wrote about, I continued to brush it off.

Well after all their talk about how great that book is, then hearing other runner friends talk about the book, then finding it on one of my best guy friends’ tables, I decided to find out what this book was all about. So I borrowed the book and I’ve been reading it for the past few weeks.

Confession #1: I’m loving the book. Seriously, I can’t put it down. I look forward to going to bed early every night just so I can read a few chapters before passing out. If you’re a runner, you should really consider checking it out.

Confession #2 (the embarrassing one): I’m actually, maybe, sort of, kiiiiiiiiiiiinda starting to become less of a skeptic and believe some of this barefoot running thing.

Facts to keep in mind: I’ve been struggling with ITB pain since the Boulder Trail marathon in the fall of 2009. I spent 8 months in physical therapy. I received a cortisone shot as a last ditch effort before the Cleveland marathon this past May. I ice, foam roll, stretch, strengthen, pop ibuprofen, and take weeks off from running. I bought a road bike to cross train instead. Nothing seems to help. The cortisone shot saved my Cleveland marathon, but the med wore off after 10 days and I haven’t been able to run pain-free since.

So here’s the real confession: Like it or not and as dorky as this sounds, I’m going to try giving barefoot running a shot. I’ve got nothing to lose, right? If there’s anything, ANYTHING that can give me back my running again, I’ll do it. I’m getting desperate. I miss it so much (ha, like you couldn’t tell).

I ran laps around the middle school soccer field this morning. It feels oddly comfortable running without shoes. Unfortunately, my knee still hurt. But I’m not giving up yet. I’m going to try out this whole barefoot thing for another few weeks (running short distances, 3 times a week) and I’ll let ya know how it goes!

Do any of you have experience barefoot running? Does it help? Any words of advice?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Nyal says:

    Yeah, I am a barefoot runner, and a barefoot trail runner at that. Does it help? Depends on what you want to change. If you want to enjoy running even more than ever, then perhaps. If you want to prevent or improve injuries, maybe. If you want to zero in on your own efficient and safe running form, then yes.

    Injury prevention is usually related to form issues, as many seem to think, and BFR is a wonderful teacher. You cannot rely on anecdotal evidence, like injury stories, in evaluating BFR. You are different than I am, I am different than the other guy…you get the point.

    I BFR for one reason, because I enjoy it. That’s why I tried it. Before that I had never really considered form as a runner, nor been dying of injuries. But BFR has taught me to listen to my body and made me think about form. Proper form has transformed my running life, and I got this from BFR.

    I do have an injury story, though. I messed up my left foot and ankle this winter running in deep snow. I got pretty heavy duty peroneal tendonosis. My left foot was basically dead and week. This year I began to transition to BFR and this did three things: 1. corrected my form, to prevent any future issues with PT, 2. forced me to cut back on miles and work back up as is usually done with those type of injuries (I could never force myself to cut back) and finally, 3. Worked and strengthened those tendons back to health and further strengthened them so now my ankle are very stable.

    For your injury? I have heard good things. I got runners knee from the PT as my left ankle could not absorb impact very well. It slowly faded away. Might be worth a shot for that reason alone. I have to warn you though, you will be starting over as a runner. I mean from the beginning. Do your research at the Running World’s Barefoot forum or at the Barefoot Running Society. Also Ken Bob’s website. Could help you quite a bit.

    Good luck.

  2. I’m not sure about the whole barefoot running thing. I got a few blisters one time and the whole sacred-connection-with-mother-earth thing makes it really hard for me to enjoy my favorite hobby of dumping motor oil down storm drains.

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