- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Barefoot running, also called "natural running", is the act of running without footwear. With the advent of modern footwear, running barefoot has become less common in most parts of the world but is still practiced in parts of Africa and Latin America. In some Western countries, barefoot running has grown in popularity due to perceived health benefits.
Scientific research into the practice of running barefoot has not reached a clear consensus regarding its risks or its benefits.
Throughout most of human history, running was performed while barefoot or in thin-soled shoes. This practice continues today in Kenya and among the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico. Historians believe that the runners of Ancient Greece ran barefoot. According to legend, Pheidippides, the first marathoner, ran from Athens to Sparta in less than 36 hours. After the Battle of Marathon, it is said he ran straight from the battlefield to Athens to inform the Athenians of the Greek victory over Persia.
In 1960, Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia won the Olympic marathon in Rome barefoot after discovering that Adidas, the Olympic shoe supplier, had run out of shoes in his size. He was in pain because he had received shoes that were too small, so he decided to simply run barefoot. He would go on to defend his Olympic title four years later in Tokyo while wearing shoes and setting a new world record.
When you first start running barefoot, your feet will be weak, so take it very slowly at first. It takes weeks and months to build up the strength necessary for faster or longer running, but after awhile, your feet get stronger than ever before.
If you think barefoot running will make you faster, you’re probably going to be disappointed. It’s not about running faster — although it is possible.
Here are some tips for running barefoot
Try running barefoot on a hard surface.
Slowly lengthen the time you run barefoot.
Eventually you can stop using your running shoes.
Gradually try running completely barefoot, on softer or smoother surfaces.
Land on your forefeet or midfeet (balls of your feet) instead of your heels. Too much on your forefeet can make your calves sore. If you feel yourself landing on your heels, shorten your stride.
Strides should be short — don’t extend your legs as far as you do with shoes. It should feel almost like you’re running in place.
Keep upright and balanced. Keep your feet under your hips and shoulders.
Stay light. You should feel like you’re light on your feet, not pounding at all. Barefoot runners tend to be a little more springy in their step.
Run quietly. If you are making a lot of noise with your steps (as shoe-wearing runners do), you’re pounding too hard. Try to run softly, quietly, like an animal.