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The Top 10 reasons why you should(n’t) run barefoot.

Here are the Top 10 reasons people give for not giving barefoot running a try -- and my responses.

Over the last couple of years, I have heard every reason that follows the phrase, “I can’t run barefoot because…”.  So, here are the Top 10 reasons people give for not giving barefoot running a try and my responses. Enjoy!

1.You’re feet will get dirty. There is an invention called soap.  I hear it works wonders on dirt.

2.It will hurt. Heel striking in conventional running shoes shocks almost every bone in your body.  Heel striking without shoes hurts even more.  The solution is to learn good form and don’t heel strike.

3.Have you been out there! There are needles and glass strewn all over the sidewalk. Go outside and look. Unless you live in a really bad part of town, the likelihood is there are more needles and glass in your imagination than on the streets.

4.OK, so there are no needles and piles of broken glass, but what about rocks and dog-poop! In the event that there are big scary rocks or dog poop on the sidewalk, take comfort that they usually don’t move very fast. I believe that in all things, the Universe got there first and solved the problem.  They are called eyes.  Look where you are going and don’t run on/in/through whatever is nasty in your path.

5.People will think I am strange. Abraham Lincoln (whilst quoting the poet Lydgate) once said:

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

Likelihood is, someone out there will think you are strange regardless on what you have on your feet.

6.We weren’t designed to run without shoes. Take your kid [insert your closest relation under the age of 10 here] to the local Indoor Play-centre.  Watch them. I will guarantee that every child running around, is running with fantastic form. No one taught them how to run. If they can run with perfect form and NO shoes, why can’t you?

7.I am not structurally designed to run without shoes. It is poor taste to refer to your self in response to an argument, but I never claim to be tasteful.  I have crazy toes and screwed up ankles. Whilst running in shoes, I was running with the form the shoes wanted me to have and I was broken within months.  When I started running barefoot I allowed my body to run the way it wanted to.  Some people do have severe body structure issues and may need shoes; however the majority of people probably don’t have this excuse.

8.I pronate – I can’t run without supportive shoes. Did you know the term “over-pronation” was first coined in 1978?  1978! I am older than the medical condition that has spawned a plethora of shoes.  Did we see the caveman draw a motion-controlled shoe on the side of their walls? No, they drew themselves chasing the Antelope. People were running with various types of pronation and no support prior to 1978, You can too.

9.Modern Running shoes prevent injury. I don’t think there is a definitive scientific report that states the modern running shoe prevents injury.  I am not saying that running barefoot prevents injury either. Your chance of injury will more likely be due to previous injuries, training faults, poor form and your general physical condition.  Running barefoot quickly teaches good running form and good running form prevents injury.

10.I hear that running barefoot takes time to get right, I don’t want to start back at the beginning. Fair point.  When you start barefoot running you have to start from scratch. Running barefoot teaches you to run well and it teaches you quickly. As in all things, taking time to learn your craft has its benefits.  Use this time to re-evaluate your running priorities.  Do you want to run when you are 80 and finally qualify for Boston? Do you want to race that marathon and look like you are not even trying?  If the answer is yes, then chill for just a little while. Remember that life has more to offer than PBs and the latest gadgets. Life can also offer a lifetime of running well.

So, what are you waiting for? Use the Internet for what it was designed for.  Search for sites that teach good running form and take those shoes off!