Google+ Running in Cork, Ireland: Barefoot Running...the debate continues

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Barefoot Running...the debate continues

In the magazine section of the New York Times recently, there was an article on barefoot running and the '100-Up' running technique. It was written by Christopher McDougall, the author of the best selling book 'Born to Run' which promotes the minimalist approach to running and advocating that people should run barefoot or close to it. The full article can be seen HERE

However, not everyone agrees with this approach. On the SweatScience website, their take on the article is that McDougall's approach is just a series of anecdotes and he has no scientific facts behind his arguements. The full response can be seen HERE

On another website, a jounalist interviewed the author of the 1976 book The Joy of Running. The author Dr. Thaddeus Kostrubala had also visited and written about the Tarahumara Indians that were the basis for McDougall's Born to Run book. In the interview, Dr.Kostrubala said this about barefoot running..."It’s a fad. Running is full of fads. Food fads, training fads, you name it. And the idea that we were running barefoot on cement is nonsense." The interview can be seen HERE
So is barefoot running good or bad?

There are a lot of vested interests involved here and any claims should be examined in that light. While it's obvious that the vast majority of runners will keep wearing normal running shoes, I have read that the publicity behind the barefoot running phenomenon may well influence the design of future design of running shoes. We'll see.


pmgriffin said...

Hi John,

you finish your piece by saying (paraphrasing) "i have read that barefoot running may influence the future design of running shoes" , that horse has already bolted! Try find any of the major manufacturers who are not already very heavily promoting their minimalist shoes , Nike, Asics, Saucony , Brooks are all pushing very lightweight running shoes. Thanks for your piece !

Richard said...

I notice that the loudest noise for barefoot running seems to come from the following types of runners: elites (biomechanically efficient), the injured (searching for a cure) and american trail runners (not running on concrete). Their voices are amplified because of their position in the running community but I agree that if you run on hard surfaces all the time and are of average ability (most club runners) then barefoot is not a great idea. If you don't believe me just watch a barefoot runner complete a full marathon on paved surfaces.

Having said all that, a few miles on the beach or around a field in bare feet is great.

Anonymous said...

To be fair,I have ran for 12 years with consistent shin splints. I tried everything from orthotics to exercises to icing and I followed advice from experts diligently on training, shoes etc. Having spent a pile of money on my legs, I bought a pair of Five Fingers and have been running solid for 8 months on all surfaces, although I do try to stick to grass and the beach in Youghal, but I have done some trail running and regularly run the old train line in Rochestown in them. I also ran Cork Half and Cork to Cobh in them. I've haven't been able to run like this in years. I'm not saying they're for everyone, but if they work for you, then they work for you. If they don't then fair enough. As with everything, it's whatever suits the individual runner.