is barefoot running a myth.

June 24, 2017

What are thooossseee!?


The question I get asked more than any, when in the gym or out for a run is, what are those on your feet?  Even more than, how many sets do you have left?


One homeless guy once said as I was running past, “Boy! What’s wrong with your feet?” A fair analogy when I go gliding by at break neck speed on the streets of Manchester…


Ok, who am I kidding; I have never run fast in my life. I am a natural born distance runner. Give me a meat and potato pie, red bull and some tiffin and I can run all day. Literally.



I once ran 52 miles with 7,500ft of accent in about 12 hours. The thing is, that is about half of what the worlds best runners can do. I am not talking Mo Farah, I mean a few men in the world have done it, but still. They can run 100 miles in 24 hours, up and down the cliffs and in a desert.


They don’t have the best tech or the best nutrition. They run in sandals and drink chia seed and lime water. Well mostly water, but they turn the same drink into vodka as well. It probably helps after mile 70/80. Or for me, I need ibuprofen on the start line.


All of this can be found in the best running book around – Born To Run. If you read one fitness book in your life, put down the cookbook from the cockney with the long hair and get this bad boy.


One thing you will notice is that these tribesmen, who are the best runners in the world, don’t wear trainers. They also don’t get injured, they don’t get shin splints and have never seen a physio in their life. 


So the books author realised, that as humans, we used to run barefoot and we need to develop a way of getting back to it. The thing is, we were built to run on the balls of our feet barefoot. The problem is over time and through evolution we have gotten soft. Literally.  The bottom of our feet are really soft. We also run heel to toe which creates a lot of compressional impact. It’s this repetitive impact that causes most injuries for runners. Especially as this exacerbates any alignment issues.


So if you can’t go running around barefoot, what is the next best thing? That’s where shoes like these come in. They are my second pair of Vibram Spyridons that I have owned. There are loads of brands out there, but these ones came highly recommended and reviewed. They also have an aggressive tread which makes them useful for hill running and mudstacle courses.


There are loads out there in the market and even the big boys make them. Do you remember the folding trainer by Nike that came out in the late 90’s early 00's? It became a fashion fad, but that was actually Nike's first big barefoot shoe. It was designed for athletes as part of their recovery process. It would enable them to strengthen the ligaments and tendons in their feet, which made them less susceptible to injury and fatigue.


Except they started shifting them like hot cakes in JD Sports as everyone wanted to wear them for fashion!



Anyway, that’s the main reason I switched over. I was constantly having trouble with my left knee. I kept getting shin splints and that’s frustrating when you love running.


I set myself the goal of doing 50 marathons by time I am 50 years old. I am on number 8 now, so it’s going ok so far. But to do all that running, I need to be injury free.


When these shoes came out, I was more than sceptical. I actually blasted them without really doing much research. 2 years went by and the price started to come down from the staggering £150 to around about £100. I thought it was worth a try.



I bought my first pair and started on the 6-8 week running program to transition from trainers to barefoot, which included learning a new running style. The main reason is to build the strength in your feet and ankles, which is absent using a conventional shoe.


So my feet got stronger, and I had calves that girls wearing heels would be jealous of, and that was it.  I kept pushing and pushing, running further and further until I had done a half marathon in the shoes.  I realised then, that I had no pain or injuries, no knee problems or shin splints in sight.


There’s a lot of research that has been conducted and even their use well documented by major sports stars. One guy even questioned if you could run a marathon in them when transferring from trainers. Which he crushed!


3 years later, it’s safe to say they were worth the money. I get 500 miles or so out of a pair of shoes for running, and that is usually a good guide to work off.


So I may get heckled from time to time, which I suppose is justified, but believe me, I have never looked back.

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© 2019 Christian James Mcr