From the Tarahumara of Mexico to Tim Ferris with Kenyan marathon runners in between, barefoot running has really taken off as of late. A shoe that pops into most peoples mind when they think of barefoot running is the Vibram Five Finger range. This is what I recently got for myself.
Running in these shoes is a lot of fun. I’ve been lucky enough to receive proper coaching on running technique. I was taught not to heel strike (land on the heel of the foot) while running and spent a lot of time drilling proper run technique. I did all this in ‘traditional’ running shoes. In barefoot running shoes, it’s just plain painful to heel strike. This kind of running is the way we evolved to run.
While there’s no scientific evidence to show that traditional, heavily padded, running shoes help prevent injury, there’s a great deal of evidence out there. What tipped the scales for me was an article by Gordon Pirie titled ‘Running Fast and Injury Free‘. It was written long before the recent barefoot running trend swept in. For that reason, it was a deciding factor that the whole barefoot running notion was not just another flash in the pan fashion sensation.
If you don’t want to run in gloves for your feet, there are plenty of other shoes out there that offer barefoot feeling. So if you’re interested in running fast and injury free, give it a go.
P.S. A lot of the shoes available are super minimalist. Some weigh as little as 300g (10.5oz), and can be folded up, making them perfect travel shoes to chuck in your backpack. Some even look semi-formal!