My Barefoot Experiment

Going Barefoot.

If you've been listening to the True Fitness Academy Podcast (and you should be) then you'd know that I've taken it upon myself to integrate barefootedness into my training regime. Why barefoot? That's the whole point of this post. (Oh and if you missed the boat, here's the link to the True Fitness Academy site.) I've taken it upon myself to give you some background as to how I hit my running game too.

I've been trying to get into running for a while, but the catalyst of this whole endeavor were two friends.

I was in the wedding of a good friend from college, and leading up to the wedding we had some fun phone conversations. Now Ben isn't known for his amazing communication skills, just ask his best man, so when he said that he had completed a sprint triathalon I wasn't sure if he was talking nonsense or not. Some background, Ben is a large man, very tall and pretty sizable with a spine condition, so hearing that he was doing any running at all suprized me.

After this triathalon business Ben told me that he was up to 9 and 10 mile runs, this freaked me out. Historically running has the highest rate of injury out of any activity, with almost every single runner ever being sidelined at least once every few years. “Ben,” I said, “Why?” All he told me was the he was actually learning to like running, something extremely foreign to me.

Fast forward to the day before the wedding and Ben was handing out his groomsman gifts. We all got books (No no, not a cheap bastard, actually really thoughtful), and in my hands was Ben's guide to running; a book called “Chirunning.” “I hope this helps you in your fitness journey, and with your business,” Ben said in more aesthetically pleasing terms.

Now I was excited to read a book that got my buddy who was slated to never run, ever, and got him to a place where he is contemplating full iron man triathalons. The book isn't revolutionary, but it did change a lot of what I think about running, and helped me hit the 8 mile mark with my own running (I know right??). I'm not going to break down the technique down, but it comes down to more footstrikes per minute and no heel strikes (so many people advocate heel strikes and I never understood why).

Even before I started reading this book another friend in LA took me out trail running, and was teaching me this whole different system to running. Hell even all the gait analysis stuff I've done and been taught has shown that the way we run is messed up.

Here's the link for the book on

Let's move on to the second part of this story. While I was interning with Oaks Christian high school in LA one of my fellow interns always wore these really silly looking shoes, which I am now a proud owner of. “Shoes make the muscles in your feet atrophy, and when you wear orthotics it just makes things worse,” Eric always said. Now I knew there had to be something seriously messed up about the whole shoe industry because if you think about it how did millions upon millions of people get by without their Nikes?

I wasn't really convinced yet until I read “Born to Run” which talks about a native American tribe in Mexico who are famed to be the greatest ultramarathoners ever. A great book that I would recomend to pretty much anyone, it motivated me to get these insane shoes so who knows what you might do after reading it?

Now I know that not everyone is crazy like me and likes to try everything that they hear, but this whole running barefoot thing has history on its side. Me taking it on isn't that big of a deal.

So let's review:

Buddy in LA get's me out trail running

Gait analyis shows that the way we run is silly

Ben gets me Chirunning

I start running

Eric peaks my interest in barefootedness

I read Born to Run

I get more interested in natural running

I cave and buy the Vibram 5 fingers

Yup I got these bad boys

The Vibrams

I've only done a handfull of runs with them, I want to ease my feat into them. From those few runs and from wearing them around I have seen some pretty cool things happen.

My traditionally flat foot suddenly has an arch. Maybe there is something good about workout out muscles after all.

My foot has shrunk, and while this may not be an astounding thing on it's own let's look at the whole reason why my foot isn't as large (don't worry ladies, everything else is the same). When a muscle that hasn't been working in a long time suddenly starts getting used again the muscle will contract and relax more, right? So with all that new use there is going to be an increased amount of form closure around the bones, meaning that everything is tightening up on it's own, which is what orthotics are supposed to do. Meaning that without spending more that 80 bucks on shoes (inserts go can go into the thousands) my foot is fixing itself.

I've increased my ankle mobility, which is awesome for my knees.

I'll keep you updated more regularly now that we're falling into a rythm with the True Fitness Academy podcast.