Minimalist and barefoot shoes, like Vibram Five Fingers, have increased in popularity over the last 12 years. These shoes mimic the feeling of running in your bare feet, which has been advertised as the most natural way of running. Barefoot shoes are not a fashion statement; they are meant to be used as corrective tools to minimize injuries. Aside from the health benefits, barefoot running gives you a sense of freedom. It allows you to feel every step of your run and make adjustments to your gait based on your body’s feedback.
I have been using Vibram’s Bikila barefoot shoes for several months now, and absolutely love them! I won’t wear anything else! It took me over a year to transition down to barefoot shoes, starting with a minimalist shoe from New Balance. I refuse to undo all of my hard work by putting on a pair of clunkers, like Nike’s Air Max 1 EMs. Besides, I have been injury-free for over 8 months now. So… naturally, I want to take things to the next level. You may be asking, “What next level? You’re running in barefoot shoes!”
Quick Story – The other day I went for a walk (which I rarely do) down one of my favorite running paths. I was with a good friend, just chatting away and not thinking about the time. We got about a half-mile down the path, when I realized that I was running late and needed to get back home. I was wearing my Sperry Top-Siders, which are not shoes you want to be wearing when you’re in a hurry and need to bolt. I looked over at my friend (who was wearing sneakers) and said, “Lets run back.” She quickly replied, “You can’t run in those shoes.” I agreed, slipping the shoes off of my feet. Although, I was a little concerned about having no tread under my feet, I figured it couldn’t be much different from Vibram’s 3mm of rubber. Besides, I’ve seen people run marathons completely barefoot. It seemed like the perfect chance to test the progression of my transitioning. After a few moments of deliberation, we took off down the paved path towards the parking lot. I was completely blown away by the feeling of running completely barefoot! It honestly felt like running in my VFFs, except… freer. Although it was only half a mile, I feel very confident that I could do this for longer distances. I may have just unlocked a new level of running, which will allow me to connect with the Earth in ways I never imagined. I often use running as part of my meditation practices; this will certainly increase that experience.
Have you ever run barefoot, or considered running completely barefoot? I would love to hear feedback from those who have tried it or have given it some thought. Let me know what problems you encountered, distances you have achieved, and/or how you transitioned. For those of you on the fence about it, let me know what’s holding you back. Please feel free to leave a comment below! Happy Running!