Allison, of Allison’s Big Toe, was asked these questions by a college student conducting research on the barefoot running ‘trend’. She answered them, so you should read her post, and invited others to answer them too.
Here’s my take on them.
How often do you run a week?
I am training for a 10k race scheduled for October 17th. I’m following an 8 week training program from Runners’ World which has me running three times a week.
What kind of shoes did you use before you started barefoot running?
Just my Asics. Always my asics. Though I have VFFs, I have done very little running in them.
How often did you run a week before you started barefoot running?
Well, as a fair weather runner, with a preference for outdoors, I ran very little over the winter. For last year’s October 10k I was running five times a week on a training schedule.
What got you interested in barefoot running?
I have always had a preference for barefoot anything and have done most of my training and practice barefoot: kettlebell training, jumping rope, yoga, circuit training, meditation. I am barefoot at home except when the chill of winter pushes me into plushy warm slippers. I have long been a proponent of the wisdom of freeing our feet. When I began hearing about barefoot running I knew I had to try it. I read, followed and fell in love with Jason Robillard’s wise words in The Barefoot Running Book. I haven’t looked back.
What are the benefits of barefoot running? Did it solve any problems/pains that you had previously with running?
Barefooting gives me freedom and joy in so many of my runs. Particularly when it is raining. Being unshod is inherently joyful.
Problems I was having with my left tibialis anterior have become moot.
My arches have noticably strengthened and lifted.
My calves, already strong from jumping rope, have further increased in strength.
A hip which does not like distance has, thus far, held her peace.
Running barefoot has, incidentally, gotten me on the provincial evening news cast and local radio. It gets both supportive and sadly sympathetic responses from folks I pass on the street.
My running is really only to support my mindfulness practice. The connection to the world and the immediate feedback provided by this connection allows me to run mindfully, to be aware of what is happening from the soles of my feet on up, to correct faulty stride patterns or tight musculature anywhere in my body.
The soles of my feet are beautifully smooth and leathery. I am pleased with them and aware of them in a way I never was when I boxed them up in my Asics.
Do you run more/less often now?
About the same, as far as my running season goes.
What are the downfalls? Did you have to break in the five fingered shoes? Did you get blisters?
I experience tight calves when I increase my distance, but as long as I lovingly stretch them and set them upon a foam roller, this tightness dissipates quickly.
I have not ever had a blister though I did have a bit of tenderness on the pad of my second toe after my first two barefoot runs. This has disappeared.
Did something else in your life change when you started running barefoot? Did it inspire you to change something else? Did your other training habits change? Did you start eating differently?
My life is constantly changing, every day. I love that about my life.