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Coming to Terms — The Barefoot Running Dictionary: Part 2

The second installment of the Barefoot Running Dictionary.

Last week, I wrote the first part of my ‘Barefoot Runners Dictionary’.  I failed in my attempt to create only one post, so I eventually conceded defeat and created the dictionary in two parts.

Below are the letters M to Z:

Mid-foot strike — When the area alongside the arch of the foot is the first area of the foot to make contact with the ground.  This is a common landing used by barefoot runners.

Minimal shoes (a.k.a. barefoot shoes) — Lightweight, flexible shoes that have the following characteristics:  No cushioning, no heel-to-toe drop, no support.  Examples are: Vibram Five Fingers, VIVOBarefoot and Merrell Barefoot.

New York City Barefoot Run (NYCBFR) — Takes place at the end of September and is seen as the highlight of the barefoot runners calendar. Barefoot runners converge on New York for the opportunity to drink, wear huaraches and drink some more.  Apparently the aim of the weekend is to actually run – although that is usually low down on the priorities of the attendees.

Ninja Running — Your ultimate goal when you start running barefoot.  The idea is to be as silent as possible as you land.  Benefits of Ninja Running are scaring the following as you run: Other runners, walkers, old ladies and squirrels.

Overstriding — A consequence of a cadence less than 180 steps per minute. Occurs when your landing is not directly below you but is in front of you – usually accompanies heel-striking. This is a major cause of injury in runners.

Posture — An important aspect of good running form. You should land, with the ankles, hips, shoulders and head all aligned vertically. Your core should be engaged and your pelvis in a neutral position.

Pushing off — A classic sign of pushing-off are blisters happening on the toes or forefoot. After landing, barefoot runners should attempt to pick up the feet for the next step. Try to imagine the way you would pick up your feet if you were wading in water. Also try training techniques like the 100-ups.

Proprioception — One of the seven senses — yes, you have seven senses. It’s the perception of movement and orientation of the body due to the stimulation of nerves within the body as well as the inner ear. This is the reason barefoot runners can tread lightly over terrain that make others wince. Barefoot runners talk about proprioception a lot.

Reduced Shoes (A.K.A “transition shoes”) — These shoes are lighter than conventional running shoes. They will have minimal cushioning, minimal support, and a small heel-to-toe drop – usually around 3-4mm. Examples: New Balance Minimus Trail (MT10), Inov-8 Trailloc 245 and Saucony Kinvara 2.

Relax — The main tenet you should practice when running barefoot. Relaxing as you land is essential to prevent injury. The word ‘relax’ is also used as a mantra by new barefoot runners as they try to achieve the zen-like state of perfect form.

“Rolling the shoe into a ball” — A test used in minimal shoe reviews to evaluate shoe flexibility.  If the shoe is flexible enough to roll into a Tootsie roll, then the likelihood is that the shoe will have good ground-feel.

Sports Kilts — Adopted by barefoot runners when it became apparent that running without shoes was no longer a head turner at local races.  Now usurped by TUTU’s.

Toe-box — This is the space at the front of the shoe.  Minimal shoes usually have a large toe box to allow your toes to spread as you run, allowing a more natural landing.

Too Much too Soon (TMTS) — A common reason for injury as a runner transitions to a barefoot running style. This occurs because the runner is so overwhelmed with joy by running barefoot, they feel they can run for miles.  The next day, they realize they can’t.

Top Of the Foot Pain. (TOFP) — A complaint cited by new barefoot runners. This occurs as the feet strengthen and the bones in the feet settle in response to running barefoot. This is not necessarily something to be concerned with. However, if it does occur, cut down on the barefoot mileage, rest and investigate if the pain doesn’t disappear. Running while experiencing TOFP is possibly one of the biggest causes of metatarsal stress fractures associated with barefoot/minimalist running.

Water Shoes (a.k.a. Aqua socks) — The first minimalist shoe. Before Vibram ever came up with the idea of a rubberized toe shoe, barefoot runners resorted to water shoes or boating aqua socks to protect themselves on cold winter runs.

Winter running (a.k.a. Ice running) — Despite what you may expect, winter is the perfect time to practice your form.  Running over ice immediately tells you if your form is unbalanced – usually as you fall on your face.  When you can successfully run over ice – either barefoot or in shoes – you know your running form is nearly there.