I started barefoot running last year after I ran the marathon and read the brilliant “Born to Run”
It’s not really running barefoot (although it can be if you want it to be!) but it’s a style of running where the shoes you wear are just a layer to protect you from the ground instead of a built up thing designed to support your legs and feet.
You see our feet and legs don’t generally need support. We have evolved to stand upright, in part, to allow us to run longer distances. We are designed to run. Our feet adjust easily to the undulations of the ground.
If you stand on a rock barefoot your foot curves around it and the feedback means you instantly put less pressure on your foot meaning you are less likely to twist or strain any leg muscles.
If you stand on a rock in a trainer with a thick sole that is relatively inflexible it will not get the same level of feedback and your leg will have to twist awkwardly.
This is why barefoot style makes sense.
You also run differently when you are running barefoot style…you take shorter strides, land on the ball of your foot instead of the heel (built up trainers force you to land on your heel) and have a straight posture – almost leaning back over your hips.
Once I switched to this style of running I went from dreading my run to loving it. Running suddenly became easy…almost like every run was as easy as running downhill.
Of course I need to find the right thing to run in and I went for Vibram 5 fingers as the best you can get. They look weird but then again, so do I when I run! (if they distract from my red sweaty face I reckon it’s a good thing!)
The problem is that in the winter my toes freeze! And when it’s wet and cold then it is thoroughly unpleasant. Actually when it’s wet it’s unpleasant.
I didn’t want to go into another winter with frozen toes (you can get socks but they make no difference) so I went on the hunt for another pair of minimalist shoe but one that was all in one so I can wear my nice warm running socks.
I went into countless stores and couldn’t find one that sold minimalist shoes that I could try on (although there are plenty out there these days). One shop even suggested I took the insoles out of a pair of regular Nike’s…erm…no!
Then SportsPursuit had a sale and had these Merrell’s on for half price at £45
And I just had to bite the bullet and go for it.
It took a while for them to arrive but now I’ve been out for 2 runs in them. One of the runs was on a day where it was so frosty it looked like it had snowed.
They are too big for me. I am a size 8 so that’s what I bought but there is about a centimetre gap at the toe. But actually that works out well because with my thick running socks the gap provides a cushion of air from the cold and stops my feet getting as wet.
They allow me to continue to run barefoot style without my toes freezing off. That has to be a good thing doesn’t it?