The Metro newspaper (13/12/2010) had a feature on barefoot running. Seemed a strange time of the year to suggest about it considering the depth of snow we had at the time. the article featured two runners running in the rain ON CONCRETE!
My advice is don’t waste your time.
‘According to our experts, barefoot running, intensive training and blended exercise are just some of the fitness trends we should be watching out for in 2011.’ Said the article.
Bare foot running?! What nonsense is this?
Gareth Cole is head of education at The Third Space is quoted as saying,
‘The traditional way of running is with the heel striking the ground first and shoes have been built accordingly to absorb the impact,’ he says. ‘With barefoot running, or natural running, the emphasis is put on the forefoot or midfoot, allowing the natural arch of the foot to take the force. This style of running is already popular among the running fraternity and a small number of athletes have been running shoeless since the 1960s.’
Gareth predicts the new year will see us going au naturel when it comes to footwear.
It is natural? It may be if you NEVER wear shoes so your feet are nice and tough – and you live in a warm climate so your feet do not get damaged by the cold – and you NEVER walk or run on concrete or tarmac as both of those surfaces are not natural.
Yes you can now get special footwear to protect your feet if you break any of the above rules such as the Nike Fivefingers. There are other shoes that may not be quite as odd looking but are still an attempt to provide a minimal amount of protection. See barefootrunningshoes.org for a range of them.
I can speak with some authority on this matter. I started running as a teenager in the late 1960s when I was still at school. I hated playing football, rugby or cricket in school ‘games’ as it was called. I know the teachers were paid to get us running around so I told the teacher my plan and asked if I could run instead.
Behind the school were hills with pathways. They teacher said I could run on the hills. While the others played football I would run. I was aged about 13 and I would run for the length of the ‘games’ lesson.
The technical clothing in those days were a pair of thin cotton shorts (even with the ice on the ground) and no top. For footwear we all wore plimsolls with no socks. How is that for barefoot running? Yes it dictates your gait as the shock to the heels would be painful of you ran as though in padded footwear.
By the time I was aged 19 I was working as a chef in London and would run around Holland Park in the mornings, still in plimsolls. As the years went by I would run from time to time. When I lived in Birmingham I would run at night around the streets of Edgbaston, still in plimsolls. Because the running surface was not natural the running gait could not be natural, it could never be like running on a sandy beach.
After a gap of about 3 or 4 years I started again, but this time with the early version of the modern running shoe. What a difference! It felt like running on a sandy beach (without the drag) even though I was running on concrete and tarmac. I never looked back. And I have never gone back to running in plimsolls.
If you want to try this barefoot running malarkey you don’t need fancy footwear. Get some cheap plimsolls. They will provide just the right amount of covering for the soles of your feet to stop cuts or feeling the cold too much. You will only need to buy the very cheapest as you will not use them for long – unless you are daft.