Tag Archives: barefoot running

barefoot running

Pumped up Kicks: Is barefoot running for me?

No this blog isn’t about Foster the People, or songs that are good to run to.  (I will say though right now I am digging: Young Blood by The Naked and Famous, Sail by Awolnation, Somebody that I Used to Know by Gotye, and Frankenstein by Tokyo Police Club)  This blog is my opinion on barefoot running.

Today I got a new pair of pumped up kicks!  I’m super excited about them.  I spend the majority of my day on feet thus I have Shoes for Neuropathy, Jogging, Workingout and even for my Zumba classes.  Being the multi-tasker I am I feel I should be doing something positive for my body while I work. Wearing minimalist shoes while walking, working, cross training, and strength training is great for your body.  They make you recruit more muscles in your arches, calves, and glutes to support your bones structure.

barefoot running

My new Nike Frees! Thank you Norman!

So do I support Barefoot running you might ask?

That is a tricky question.  I do know it can be done right, I doubt the average person can do it right.  I don’t believe women can run long distance long term with a barefoot stride.  So what does that all mean?

I doubt the average person can do it right because of the patience required to completely rebuild from scratch.  No that doesn’t mean starting a training routine barefoot.  It means forcing yourself to decrease your mileage and speed slowly building up from less that a mile at a much slower pace very gradually over time.  I do know one runner who has done that.  (Props to you Adam Depue!)  Most runners, however, I don’t think have this patience.  If you want to prove me wrong, I will greatly credit your determination and patience!

Women on the other hand is another argument.  I do not know a runner who have done it.  They have all developed an injury at some point.  If there is someone out there who is female and has been running consistently injury free I would love to hear about it and chat with you.  I do not think this is a common case.

Born to run will argue about how our ancestors ran barefoot.  Obviously able to not only run, but also provide food by hunting and gathering in minimalist footware.  There are some holes I could punch in this argument (arguing life-expectancy for example), but I won’t.  I will give them props in saying their argument point to how sedentary we have become as a society.  If we were to go back to our ancestors example we would be stronger for it.  I do feel we could all be stronger by wearing “barefoot” shoes more often–why I got them for cross training and work!

What Born to Run won’t talk about is WHO those hunters and gathers were.  They weren’t women.  They were men.  Those were the tradition barbaric roles.  At a more scientific level, it also won’t talk about the Q angle.

barefoot running

Women’s hips are wider on average then mens.  This is so we can bare children, but it also puts our knees under greater pressure in sport (or hunting and gathering in prehistoric times.)  This is also why women are at greater risk for tearing their acl in sports like soccer.  Sharp cutting can tear the acl of woman who hasn’t built up her stability muscles much easier than her male counterpart athlete.  If a woman doesn’t have proper arch support she will be predispositioned to develop runners knee much quicker than a male would simply by her anatomy.

Long story short, barefoot runners beware.  I respect those of you who have had the patience to develop the musculature needed to support this.  I am weary of those I know aren’t strong enough to do it.  I will, however, proudly sport my barefoot shoes anytime I’m not running!

Check out good prices for Nike Frees!

What are the Best Running Shoes?

Last week I wrote about how to teach your body to run.  I was very careful while talking about how it feels to run, to conveniently leave out the topic of shoes.   I didn’t want you to think about the equipment needed yet.  I wanted you think about how you run organically and what you can do organically to fix that.

Now that we talked about how your brain can help you body run more efficiently, I will tackle the subject of how shoes can help you run more efficiently and effectively.  I wear 2 types of shoes when I run, Asics Kayanos and Nike Frees and if I had the funds I would add Newton’s and Vibram Fivefingers to my training tools.  Here is my rational as to why these are the best running shoes.


First and foremost I will say that I love my Acics.  Asics Kayanos+SuperFeet insoles are the only combo that I have been able to run the training long runs training for a marathon requires without having knee pain.   As I wrote about in Pumped up Kicks, I am still working to develop the musculature it would take to support barefoot running.  To help me build that musclulature, I wear my Nike Frees.  I can feel my foot strike better in them.  They have less support, so my “running” muscles need to work harder with each stride.  I wear these shoes when I am doing a shorter or easier 1-3 mile run.  While wearing them I make sure I am working on all my running cues.  Frees are the most minimal I will go for 3 miles.  My knees have faced enough pounding from my volleyball, pole vault, and javelin days.  They need the strength of my stability muscles, but a little cushion doesn’t hurt either!

If I had Vibrams, I would use them for sprint/strength workouts.  Being one of the most minimal shoes out there; they would be great for strength training exercises, when you want to think about functionally engaging your support musculature.  The barefoot feel they give, allows you to feel the activation through your pinkie toe (or 5th metatarsal) to the Extensor Digitorum Longus in the calf, all the way up to the Gluteus Medius.  Remember the more we think about the muscles we activate, the more neural activation we can develop making our bodies more functional.

Yes, I pick Vibram as my preferred minimalist brand.  The get they job done just as well, and maybe better durability wise than other shoes such as the New Balance Minimus, but they also stand out.  They are ugly and obnoxious and I love them!   Vibram’s are the Purple Cow of running shoes.

Minimus is also a great barefoot shoe.  I have two close friends who love their minimuses and would defend them all day!  Miko and Tom thank you for your feedback.

Finally, if I had funds to add a 4th running shoe (and you thought basketball players were bad 😉 ) I would buy a Newton.  Newton swears his shoes will help you find the perfect stride by minimizing stress, vertical motion, and energy expended.  Check out his cool diagram explaining why!  I believe in the componants Newton talks about.  He is a good running coach.  If I didn’t understand what he speaks of, I would buy his shoes in hopes of figuring it out.  I don’t feel like I need these shoes and therefore would rather stick with my asics and frees, however, I would love to have a pair to play around in on an easy 2-3 miler!

I will forever be working on my running form and muscles.  While I may be one day strong enough to run marathons barefoot, I don’t think I would choose to.  The first and foremost reason being if I can run a marathon injury free, why would I work to jinx that.  The second is as explained in, More Fuel for the Barefoot Running Debate shoes with support are more economical.  If you are running a marathon, you might as well make it as easy as possible 😉

So long story short, arm yourself with a pair of shoes that keep you injury free!  If you have a good pair–stick with it!  Don’t try something new for those long runs!  If you can afford another option.  Go for one that will help train a better stride!  The less shoe, the more you will self correct for a less jaring strike!  In time this will carry over to any shoe you wear.  Correct stride will lead to more injury free miles…but why not keep they cushion for the long run?

What are your favorite shoes?

More Fuel for the Barefoot Fire

Runners’ World just blogged an interesting research topic (thank you Miha: http://sweatscience.runnersworld.com/2012/02/barefoot-versus-running-shoes-which-is-surprisingly-more-efficient/

The research showed that running with shoes is actually more energy efficient than running with minimalist shoes.  As I am adding more fuel to fire the barefoot vs.shoed running debate I wanted to give a couple reasons to use minimalist shoes.

A good place to start is when x-training and Strength Training:  These are excellent activities to use barefoot shoes.  Minimalist shoes allow you to utilize your stability muscles and foot muscles more, making you stronger for repetitive motion activities (running) where we are likely to need more support. Make sure to not overdo it since going barefoot can increase the risk of fungus and infection always stay clean. the number one solution for when something does happen though is to always keep healthy and wash as often as possible!

Using them at work if you have a job that puts you on your feet during the day is also a great place.  I wear my Nike Frees while training clients every day.   (They actually help me demonstrate balance exercises better because I am able to use my “yoga” muscles better with less support since I am used to balancing in yoga barefoot.)

Because barefoot shoes help you build up the muscles in your feet they are also a GREAT tool to use in coming back from a plantar fasciitis injury or achilles injury.  Both injuries require a very gradual build back to your old running speed and mileage.  This is one reason why previously injured runners seem to be making the transition to barefoot running best.  They have already hit rock bottom and are unable to run.  Therefore the small steps they make towards recovery are success enough where a non injured runner would try pushing too far.  As the the injury begins to fade and mileage increases, the muscles that protect the foot and knee and hip joints have had proper time to develop allowing a runner to adapt to barefoot running.

Now that I have told you some of the positives of barefoot running, the question then comes to down to you.  Do you want to be a barefoot runner?  On one hand if you do it correctly you are the stronger runner, less prone to injury.  (ONCE AGAIN IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DO IT WITHOUT GETTING INJURED!)  On the other hand research is coming out to show shoes make you more efficient.  (This means if you were to race barefoot and with shoes (that are the lightest possible) your shoed self would beat your barefoot self.   What runner do you want to be??  –There is no right answer.  Your preference and goals are your answer 🙂


If you are interested in some minimal shoe choices check out http://www.squidoo.com/courtneyjulia .  I would love to hear which ones you like.

Constructing a cheat meal

When on a diet, splurging is often called a cheat meal.  Cheat meals can be awesome, but dieters beware if you like to eat healthy Mon-Fri and cheat all weekend you are not on a  weight lose diet, you are on a maintenance diet…(or even a slow .5-1lb steady creep up diet!)

That being said, cheat meals are awesome, especially when you make it yourself with fresh ingredients!  Remember fresh ingredients provide way more nutrients than processed ones.  Most restaurants–especially if they are chains use processed ingredients because they are cheaper and store longer.


Lobster and Ricotta/mozzarella/Parmesan Ravioli made from scratch!

This week after my 6 mile “long run” for the week I went up to my mom and dad’s to celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary!  [It’s funny to call 6 miles a long run but welcome to the friendly world of 1/2 marathon training!–ALSO WORD TO THE WISE:  If you are going to have a cheat meal make it on a day where you get in a great workout! 🙂 ]  There we began to cook up a feast!

I was put in charge of stuffing the ravioli, while my dad tended the french meat and white bean dish, Cassoulet!


Cassoulet step like 15 of 20!







Our first course was sautéed muscles and clams, which are actually a very healthy appetizer!  This is a great choice to make on your own or to order if you are at a restaurant!




Next came the lobster ravioli with a simple tomate sauce and asparagus!




Finally we had the main course, a blood orange salad with fig balsamic dressing, and the completed Cassoulet!  Dinner was paired with an Australian 2 Hands 2009 Shiraz and a 2005 Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon.  (My one of two lenten exceptions!)

 The intent was to burn off these calories with a day of skiing….




"All we need now is a little more wind to go with our rain and wind...."




However, conditions weren’t having it so we headed down the mountain and I squeezed in my exercise for the day


imageStacking wood and taking a quick 3 mile sunset recovery run to shake out my legs from yesterday’s run.









When I got back it was time to get set for the rest of the week.  I was able to use the broth from the cassoulet for a slow cooked meal for later this week!


Frozen broth from cassoulet with white beans, black beans and tomatoes!








The start of the meal, the liquid will condense and I will add onions and mushrooms!! YUM YUM YUM!


The only thing missing is yoga, but I’ll get back to that tomorrow!