My barefoot running colleague from Huntington Beach, CA – KenBob Saxton – says that to run safely & efficiently bare-foot you must 1st run on the most rugged surfaces you can locate. I wasn’t totally sold on this as the best approach but, having implemented the process this summer, I am now!
Remember my reasoning around running barefoot:
* no running-related injuries
* more natural running technique
* ultimately, more efficient & faster pacing/cadence
I incorporated the following & recommend doing the same (if you are so inclined!):
* find surfaces that combine roughed-up pavement, uneven concrete & shoulders of sharp, small stone or gravel
* alternate running for as long as you can tolerate on the stones/gravel before shifting to the ‘softer, more forgiving’ surfaces
* build up daily till you can run quickly & relatively pain-free on the sharper surfaces
* combine this with bare-foot 1-legged hill drills (forward, side-to-side, backward) on rough asphalt once per week
I learned to ‘cup’ my feet as I hit the sharpest, hardest surfaces to reduce the pain & decrease the risk of cuts & abrasions. I also learned that the pain from sharp objects ‘pinching’ the soles of my feet would dissipate within seconds of finding smoother areas to run over. I noticed that there was never any residual pain & I got faster & stronger each week. Finally, I got better & better @ side-stepping boulders, roots, thistles etc. on my trail routes to the point where my reaction times improved dramatically – again, without injury!
Toughen up the soles of your feet as you begin bare-foot running & you’ll never develop an ‘itis’ running injury!