Transition to Barefoot Running with this Complete Program Designed to Strengthen Your Legs, Increase Your Speed, Avoid Injury, and Help You Have More Fun on Your Runs
It’s not uncommon for someone to learn about barefoot running, decide to try it out for themselves, and then wind up hurt, injured, and frustrated in a few weeks or months simply because they didn’t really know what they were getting themselves into. I’ve heard many of the stories and wanted to create something to address that.
So, below, you’ll find my comprehensive guide for transitioning from shod running to barefoot running. This is not a scientific approach, but merely one that is based primarily on my own finite experience and on the many anecdotes I’ve collected since going barefoot in 2008. It is merely one data point based on the vast collection of data points I’ve accumulated over the years. Also, it should be noted that this is not a comprehensive barefoot training guide, just a blueprint for making the transition. There are several other elements involved in successfully going barefoot (like learning how to run barefoot with optimal technique, for example) and it’s up to you to fill in the gaps.
If you’ve decided that you want to run barefoot – that is, completely barefoot – and are looking for a way to do it safely without injury or incident, then check out the program below.
I just read a news story about a guy who won a 10k race wearing nothing but a pair of Barefoot Ted’s Luna Sandals. This got me thinking about the hype surrounding barefoot running and minimalist footwear. At first glance, it could appear that avid barefoot and minimalist runners would have you believe that running barefoot (or going “light”) is the secret to better race times, injury-free running, and eternal youth. At times, it feels like this is an overarching theme in the barefoot running community – that all you need to do is stop wearing shoes and everything else will be taken care of. It’s as if the decision to go barefoot is the Holy Grail of running – curing every ailment, boosting all aspects of performance, and making the whole world a better place. Quite the romantic idea!
Well, I hate to burst your blister, but it doesn’t work that way. Running barefoot (or minimalist) is only a tiny fraction of the total running experience, and only a small contributor to successful running. Sometimes, going barefoot even does more harm than good. The most important thing is that people are informed of all their options and the possible resulting consequences of each decision they make.
The Four Pillars of Successful Running:
There’s a lot that goes into successful running. Of course, the phrase “successful running” is subjective and interpreted differently by many people. Some runners are successful when they win a race, and others are successful if the decide to get off their butts and go for a jog some Sunday afternoon. Every person defines successful running differently, but there are a few constants that I think apply to everyone.
1) Being able to run efficiently and therefore avoid experiencing pain or injury. Injuries from running obviously indicate unsuccessful running, no matter who you are or why you run. If you’re an injured runner, you’re an unsuccessful runner. What you’ve been doing isn’t working for you, and it’s time to re-evaluate. This also means that the majority of runners are unsuccessful (I’ve been there!). 2) Not only being able to avoid pain and injury, but also using running as a health and fitness improving activity. Running shouldn’t hurt us. It should make us healthier, fitter, and stronger – both physically and mentally. 3) Being able to run effectively, and therefore be able to achieve personal performance goals each and every run – even if that goal doesn’t involve breaking a new personal record.
Those are the logical pillars, but I’d like to add one more that doesn’t technically qualify, but I still think is absolutely important.
4) Not only receiving personal satisfaction after you’ve completed each run, but also enjoying each run in the present. If you have achieved the above 3 pillars, but still don’t enjoy running, then you’re not a truly successful runner in my book – at least not in the spirit of Physical Living.
Those four pillars can serve as a bare minimum of what must be involved in order for a run to be considered successful. There are certainly other variables that can apply, but these are the very basics. The rest are just details. Of course, some people would have you believe otherwise…
Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton about barefoot running, but also about all aspects of going barefoot. To say I was surprised by the sheer volume of wisdom he shared in our 1+ hour conversation would be an understatement. My expectations were blown out of the water as [...]