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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?