by Marcus ‘Barefoot’ Bradbery
Barefoot or minimalist running is the concept of running in footwear with as little between your foot and the ground as possible. The concept has been around for many years however it was popularised by the book ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall back in 2010, a favourite book of mine and one all runners should read regardless of their running philosophy.
Barefoot running however is more than just running in funny looking shoes or no shoes at all. The idea originates from evolutionary biologists’ theories as to why human beings are bipedal (standing on two legs) and why we run so slow in comparison to pretty much every other running mammal on the planet; what is the evolutionary advantage to this? Without going down the rabbit hole too far, the technique of minimalist running forces the runner to land on their forefoot rather than their heel and due to the extra sensitivity in the foot the body reacts in a more biodynamically appropriate way which all but eliminates the impact pressures that propagate the injuries commonly seen in runners who wear traditional footwear. I have been running all my life and started minimalist running in my early 20’s, I have never had an injury and have never had to foam roll, supplementing my running only with running specific weight training. Is this just luck or are we on to something, I’ll let you decide?
This technique isn’t something you can just jump into. The concept copped a lot of flak in the early days due to the ambitious marketing that some minimalist footwear companies pegged to consumers and the injuries that some consumers experienced by wearing the footwear.
Due to your under developed foot muscles, the technique is something you need to ease in to. You don’t go and Barbell Squat your body weight until you have gradually built up to it, well the same principal applies to running with minimalist footwear.
Once you have broken your feet in however the joy of running is transcending. For me, it was a light bulb moment where it all made sense. Every step I take when running is an absolute pleasure and the satisfaction I gain from running can not be compared to any other feeling as a human being.
I believe running improves us as human beings and I owe who I am to it.