How I Fell into Barefoot Running
Written by: Bryan Wolf
Why do I barefoot run? There is one good answer and it is the one that is most important. I barefoot run because I would not otherwise run. It is the only running I’ve ever enjoyed. It can be called a trend, a fad, a dangerous endeavor, or whatever you’d like to call it but what I experience is a freedom. Barefoot or Minimalist Running from the very beginning has enlightened me to another set of awareness and senses. I can hardly remember what made me start minimalist running. I have no idea why I bought a pair of Vibram Fivefingers more than 5 years ago. When I put them on though I noticed a mental difference, I had the confidence to move. I also noticed the physical differences; I could feel the ground that I stepped on, the textures, the temperatures, they fit more like a glove, I could move with full dexterity and control. I felt good, I felt barefoot.
What barefoot enthusiasts will tell you is that they feel connected, light, balanced, natural, and healthy. Having a sense of awareness in motion and in correspondence with the ground beneath you has benefits of both body and mind. What is the first thing you do when you come home? Chances are you take off your shoes. Besides a housemate angry about the mud you tracked in you took your shoes off because it is the most comfortable. Despite thousands of designs and attempts at correcting a “problem” there is no modern footwear that is more comfortable than simply being barefoot nor is there footwear that has stood the test of being injury free or even preventive. You wear a cast on your foot everyday!
Vibram Fivefinger slogan is “You are the Technology”. It is the first and only footwear that can protect you and allow for full utilization of our human engineering. When you first switch however minimalist running requires a patience and dedication that allows for your body to prepare for its new journey. Through exercises and a slow but purposeful integration you can experience a transformation that ready’s you for running. We have 52 bones, 66 joints, and 40 muscles in our feet, make no mistake that each one has a purpose and a place. As a perfect creation there is no better mechanism for movement than that which we were given; remember “You are the Technology”.
I trained and transitioned slow, working my way to the hills of Clifton; up Ravine or MLK (does anyone feel my pain there?), to the Little Miami Scenic Trail where I would increase distance and speed. I ventured out to our public parks for trail runs in East Fork or Mt. Airy Forest to discover a whole new sense of awareness and joy carefully bouncing down the muddy banks, through soft pebble creeks, and up grassy hills. I find myself now signing up for regular 5k and 10k events and the Cincinnati Flying Pig half marathon. I run now, and I enjoy it.
I have been injury free through Appalachia to Cincy streets. I have to say that if you can abandon your misconceptions or fears you too can find this same joy in running. This type of running style or footwear may not be for everybody so start with the proper education. There are lots of resources and I’ve included a few here. Your feet are beautiful, get to know them!
Vibram Education: www.vibramfivefingers.com/education/index.htm
Meetup Group: Raramuri Minimalist Running
Harvard Study: barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu
“Born To Run” best seller: borntorun.org/
“Born To Run” best seller: Blog Review