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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Way of Barefoot Running

Here is the working text for my Op-Ed piece in Monday's Christian Science Monitor, titled by the paper as "Boston Marathon and beyond: Running is ready for a barefoot revolution" (read online here)

The Way of Barefoot Running: One Step at a Time

Our ancestors moved over the earth...and found their way into nearly every nook and cranny of the planet...with their bare or minimally clad feet.  The foot has been the primary vehicle of our success as a species, allowing us to fulfill our desire to explore, discover, achieve and eat. Yet, most people these days have come to see their feet as broken appendages, unfit for the real world, sickly and weak, prone to injury, in need of support and padding, doomed to suffer.  Why? 

Good question.  What did happen?  What made our feet sick?  Did we devolve?  Perhaps it has something to do with the shoes we wear?

Well, arguably, we are the first generation of runners who have worked with the hypothesis that more cushioning and support equals safer running and reduced impact.  We have concluded that modern surfaces, hard and unforgiving, require ever-thickening sole padding to help counter the shocks of landing, but is that true?

It is counter-intuitive, but the truth is, and studies back this up, that the more you block out the feeling of impact in your feet, the more impact you are likely to put into your body, at the wrong time in your stride, by moving and landing differently than you would if you actually felt what you were doing. 

All those nerves on the bottom of your feet have a purpose after all.  Dulling them from sensing seems to be a bad idea...and the dulling seems to set in motion a series of unfortunate events that ultimately leads to movement patterns unknown to our preeminently capable ancestors...patterns that seem to lead to inefficient movement and injury.

By taking off your shoes, you give your body a chance to reuse some amazingly useful, built-in systems that help you move in a way that need not be jarring nor pounding regardless of the hardness of the terrain, a way of movement that more effectively captures and re-releases stored energy through elasticity in our bodies: the splaying of our forefoot, the arch in our foot, tendons in the lower legs, calves and quads, and form, all positioned ideally to absorb and recoil the energy of movement, smoothly and efficiently, operating in real-time, on the move, a kind of primordial physical intelligence, a birthright of Homo sapiens.  This built in recoil system puts to shame the claims of the marshmallow soft, spring loaded shoes that capture the imagination of so many.

So, what went wrong?

My hunch is that we got unplugged...detached...from our own bodies, from our own feet.  That disconnect has led to gait patterns and running styles that are unique to a generation of runners...we the first cohort in the history of the world to run distance with cushioned, high-heeled shoes.  I think it is a case of the cure becoming worse than the ailment, the ailment being hard surfaces and tired bodies, trying to continue moving when the safe form of moving has exhausted itself and the feet and legs would normally protest about continuing...unless you could give it a little relief, i.e., block pain brought on by less-than-best landing patterns, but once become a habit ends up being a fundamental change in running form...and in my opinion, a dying branch of cultural evolutionary experimentation.

Does it have to be this way? 

Nope.  Learning how to master the fundamental human capacity of running, sans shoes, is a lot easier than you think...and does not require a purchase.  Simply take off your shoes...and start listening to your feet, listening to your body, moving without internal hard edges, with flow.  Focus on incrementally redeveloping your feet and lower legs...one step at a time, giving them a chance to feel the world and grow from interacting with it, learning from it.  And become a student of your own body and of movement, share your experiences, learn and be inspired by others.  Crack the nut of joyful movement in your own body, your own unique vehicle.  The resources are available unlike at any other time for our generation.  Google it.

The paradigm shift away from the over-engineered shoe is connected with other shifts in thinking about our bodies and being human.  In your barefeet you are more connected to your body, better balanced, more aware, mindful, present.  Those characteristics are good qualities to mimic in your mental life.  There is a relationship between the two.

Becoming healthy in mind and body is an incredibly effective way to experience happiness it seems, and all my research into this topic leads me to feel confident that if you follow these insights to their logical conclusion, you too will become a happy, healthy and free thinking individual, comfortable and satisfied with the awesome inheritance your feet and body represent.

BFT

PS.  More on my barefoot running philosophy with tips here:

http://barefootted.com/coach/philosophy.html

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PrimalCon 2010

Yes, it's true, I am speaking and presenting at this year's inaugural PrimalCon convention...and very much looking forward to it. I have read Mark Sisson's book "The Primal Blueprint" and think that it has some incredible insights that help us rediscover and reapply some of the life practices of our most ancient ancestors.

Below is my write up for my presentation at PrimalCon 2010 which is being held April 23-25 in Sourthern California (learn more here)

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The friendly and flowing savage, who is he? Is he waiting for civilization, or is he past it, and mastering it? --Walt Whitman

All this talk about barefoot running lately…what’s up with that?

Well, think about Grok (your primal ancestor). Think about his footwear. Do you think he needed supportive, cushioned, orthopedic shoe-boots in order to make it through his day? Nope. He was born with the best footwear money could buy…his own bare feet.

Grok’s footwear = self-nourishing, self-healing, get-stronger-and-smarter-with-use material, directly connected to the brain, proprioceptive. Good news, you have the same.

Fast forward to today. A world where most people are completely disconnected from their own feet and the marvelous capacity they contain. So disconnected that an entire generation of Americans have grown up thinking that they could not move without shoes. But is that the case?

My own personal journey for finding an answer to this question is best outlined in Christopher McDougall’s best-selling book “Born to Run”. If you haven’t read it, you should. It is perhaps the best evidence available to help understand why humans are the premiere endurance animal on the planet. Our success as a species is connected to an amazing human capacity called persistence hunting.

Our need for meat is directly connected to our growing brain and our fabulous trotting abilities. Grok can out trot just about any other land animal when you add distance to the equation. That ability along with burgeoning brain power turned Grok into an amazing hunter, even before he had mastered some of the weapons that would follow. Grok was able to literally run an animal to death. And some of our ancestors are still doing it today (search YouTube for persistence hunting to see).

Grok was a barefoot trotter. Super efficient movement: fluid, light and smooth…these are hallmarks of animals that can cover territory without waste. Grok was a master at this.

And indeed, my goal is to help you revive this skill sans traditional running shoes. I want to teach you how to reconnect to the very best tools you were ever given for learning how to move well…and it's all about reconnecting with your own body…not blocking out the feeling of the world, but rather tuning in to it…like Grok and all other animals that move with grace and fluidity.

By taking off your shoes or wearing some minimal, non-cushioned shoes, you give your body a chance to reuse some amazing systems to help you move in a way that is not jarring, not pounding. It is counter-intuitive, but the truth is, and studies back this up, the more you block out the feeling of impact in your feet, the more impact you can put into your body. The typical shoe ad has made you think you need more padding to protect your body…and all that padding has often led to more injuries and more pain. Why?

My Introduction to Barefoot Running Clinic is designed to help answer this question. I have had the opportunity to teach 1000s of folks how to move in a way that is joyful and smooth. I have developed a methodology that gets people to tune into the feeling of running well…which has nothing to do with enduring pain, but rather is all about finding and maintaining a sweet spot of efficient movement that is addictive and primal.

My clinic will leave you with the tools you need to self-analyze your own barefoot trotting progress. Indeed, my goal is to teach you what I call the persistence hunt trot, a trot that once mastered gives the Grok in you the ability to cover large distances efficiently and smoothly when needed.

I look forward to sharing with you.

Barefoot Ted

PS. Remind me to tell the story of the photo above. It contains an allegory.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

Google Talk on "Born to Run" and Barefoot Running


Had the pleasure of giving a Google Talk recently and would like to share the video with you.  When I look back on videos of me talking, the sentence below always comes to mind...Christopher's description of me in Born to Run:

"Barefoot Ted talked the way Charlie Parker played the sax: he’d pick up on any cue and cut loose with a truly astonishing torrent of improvisation, seeming to breathe in through his nose while maintaining an endless flow of sound out of his mouth."

In the end, I truly love telling the story of my barefoot journey, primarily because I think that it is a journey worth taking for any sophisticated, 21st century, highly evolved primate with human ancestors.  Done well, running makes us happy and fit...and if done thoughtfully and presently, running reconnects us both to one of our greatest fundamental physical capacities and to the earth.  We are ultimately rewarded with joy.

I say don't obsess about distance and speed...rather seek out that sweet spot of joy in running and let that be your guide.  In the end, joy is a great teacher...of both your mind and body.

BFT

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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

RUNNING AS AN EXERCISE - 1895 report

I have been looking for the oldest article on running for health.  Here is the oldest I could find that was about running and wasn't focused entirely on sports competitions... Bold GOLD highlights must reads below - BFT

RUNNING AS AN EXERCISE

By Dr. J. William Lloyd

Published in 1895 in the Journal of Hygiene and Herald of Health, Volume 45
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We have in running, as I shall proceed to show, one of the most perfect exercises which a man may take without apparatus or assistance from others.

The first great merit of running is that it applies exercise mainly to those parts and organs used least — toes, feet, legs, lungs and heart. It exercises least the arms and back most used in ordinary work. Therefore it serves the first great purpose of any remedy, it balances the circulation and equalizes the functional energy.

To keep the head cool and feet warm is the great desideratum [something desired as essential] because the head is so near to the heart, the large blood vessels reach it so directly, the tendency of our civilization is so to overwork the brain, that the least deficiency in the circulation of the extremities is sure to be avenged by a congested head, leading by repetition to headache and insomnia. Running secures a cool head and warm feet. Can you imagine a frequent runner troubled with insomnia?

BETTER THAN WALKING

Walking is dull work. There is scant pleasure in the exercise for its own sake. You must always be going somewhere, and if you cannot continually go to some new spot you are bored. The pleasantest walking is a quiet, contemplative stroll, but that is of little value for exercise, and rapid walking is almost always forced. But there is a spirit and verve about even the shortest little dog-trot which the most vigorous walking altogether lacks. Start running and the breath quickens, the pulse leaps, the brain brightens, as the freshly oxygenated, purified blood begins to bound through it, the eye sparkles and the charm of your boyhood has returned once more.

How much of the exhilaration of our childhood was owing to the fact that we then were ever running? And if adults ran more would they mourn so much for the lost illusions of early years?

The blows which the sole of the foot receives in running are of real value in improving the circulation in the feet. Those who have studied the merits of muscle beating do not need to be told this. These sharp vigorous strokes running up through the great sciatic nerve to the spinal cord and brain are stimulative and tonic in a high degree; and the quickening goes all through the body. Every nerve fibril feels it, the liver is shaken and jarred into action, the stomach grinds merrily away at its welcome grist, the bowels start their weird serpentine peristaltic action, the capillaries flush with blood, the pores open, and all is vigor and motion. Not a terminal fibre, not a corpuscle of blood but shares in the jubilee and revival. Running is “the universal alternative.”

OBJECTIONS

“Do not run; it is too violent an exercise for your health!” How often is that advice given; wisely enough, perhaps, to those with organic heart disease, but foolishly enough to the majority who need precisely this exercise to strengthen their hearts against sloth and luxurious living. For the heart is muscle, and suitable exercise is the one thing which every muscle must have, or it atrophies.

Very rapid and vigorous walking is good for the heart, but it takes vastly more will power to walk hard than to run easily and the running will do the heart more good. Of course, men with weak and fatty hearts should take this exercise with caution; a few yards only should be the extent of the run at first, and when this grows easy and pleasant, a few more and so on; working very gradually until a quarter of a mile becomes a bagatelle [something of little value or importance; a trifle].

When a quarter of a mile causes no distress that heart may cease to be solicitous about its safety. If adults ran as freely and frequently as children—I do not hesitate to say it—heart disease would be rare. But when I praise running for the heart, competitive racing is always excluded. That has ruined many a heart. Health and pleasure is the only prize for which to run.

I lately conversed with an athlete, an ex-champion in the Caledonian games, and he told me of the physical condition of some famous runners he had once examined. “The muscles on their abdomens were so hard that when I tapped them with my finger it was like tapping a board,” he said.

Observe the flabby sac which retains the bowels of the average sedentary man and think what this difference must mean in absence of abdominal obesity, constipation, prolapsed bowels, piles and hernia, to say nothing of a host of other pelvic weaknesses. Fine vigorous abdominal muscles mean healthy viscera and pelvic contents in a normal position. What would this be worth to our women? A woman who had avoided corsets and heavy skirts, and had taken a quarter of a mile vigorous run daily since childhood, would be wagered upon by an enlightened physician as perfectly free from “female weakness” or malpositions.

AS A REMEDY OF CONSUMPTION [tuberculosis]

Consumption is a dread scourge. Over and over it has been shown that nothing is so healing to sick lungs as pure air taken freely; and in no other way can it be taken so freely, and so purely, as when running in the open air. As a breathing exercise alone running is priceless, as a preventive of consumption nothing can excel it, and he is a dull hygienist, indeed, who cannot see how very valuable an agent it might become wisely employed in checking lung disease. Were I to start a “consumption cure,” running would be my sheet anchor. Indeed, running would be my chief resource in treating those chronic diseases in which the patient has the use of the lower extremities.

We hear so much of the medical use of oxygen, nowadays, but there is no better oxygen than that which Mother Nature has provided in the open fields, and if we fill ourselves with this, feasting on it as we run, every drop of our blood will thank us for the treat. Running furnishes oxygen more rapidly an abundantly than any other spontaneous exercise.

PERSPIRATION. MELANCHOLY.

When you run you perspire. Thousands upon thousands of little pores begin to drain off impurities, and thus relieve the other excretory organs of overwork. No Turkish bath can excel a run, no sudorific [causing or inducing sweat] will produce a more thorough sweat. In the corporation of man running means clean streets, good drainage, perfect water-works, and public sanitation.

Running is pleasant and inspiring. It enlivens the mind and dispels melancholy. It exercises every muscle in the body, and chiefly those not commonly much used. It cools the head and draws blood to the lower extremities. It cures rheumatism, corns, cold feet, headaches, insomnia; prevents stiffness, varicose veins, apoplexy, consumption, hernia. It stimulates and tones up the nervous system. It shakes and arouses to action all torpid viscera. It insures appetite, digestion, assimilation, excretion. It will certainly cure obesity, for nobody ever yet saw a hard runner who was fat. It requires no apparatus. Taken all in all is the most perfect single exercise known for health, pleasure, and all-round development.

DRESS, ETC.

If you feel the need of running have the courage to do it, and you can soon persuade others to join you if you must have company. Children at least will be always glad to accompany you. The dress should be appropriate. The cap should be very light and close, so as not to blow off easily. Much of the time when you run fast you will carry it in your hand, anyway.

Let all the clothing be woolen, so that the perspiration quickly passes off, and chills are avoided. Have no flapping skirts, coat-tails, or other loose ends. Wear knee-breeches, woolen stockings, and low running-shoes, or, better still, wear no stocking and no shoes whenever the weather will permit.

There is wonderful comfort in a bare foot, as everyone knows. Contact with the earth is healthful. And in summer, after a rain, or in the dewy morning, how refreshing a running foot-bath through wet grass! Even in winter a short run, barefooted, through the loose snow may be made perfectly safe for those who have taken the right training, producing a warmth and glow in the feet which will last for hours.

PRIZES.

Never race for prizes, or run against time, or compete for anything. Avoid over-strain. Don’t make work of your sport. Leap and bound down hill, and you will find it jar you much less than straight running.

Run up hill zigzag. Stop whenever you feel any discomfort, get your wind, and then run again.

By constant practice a man could run as long as he could walk. In some places in the Orient outrunners and footmen accompany carriages and keep up with the horses. In the bardic chronicles of Ireland we read of the horse-boys running all day by the side of the tourist, ready to be at the bridle whenever the master halted. And wonderful tales travelers tell us to-day of runners in Mexico, Japan, Africa.

But such running, if wonderful, is not perhaps desirable, and is hardly to be attained without too much expense to other faculties. The runs I recommend are through the dewy meadows of morning, over the hills of afternoon, or through the aisles of forest temples—runs with an easy breath, a light foot, and a gay heart.

You may not, like Selkirk [inspiration for Robinson Crusoe], become able to run down wild goats, but you can at least run down your avoirdupois [weight], run up your spirits, and run out, if not outrun, your doctor.

 
Alexander Selkirk inspired the character Robinson Crusoe

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This article was in the The Journal Of Hygiene And Herald Of Health V45 published in 1895.  The entire journal can be downloaded as a PDF via Google Books. (352 pages)

Before the article index is the following quote, attributed to Grant Allen which I want to uphold in my own practice:
“Health culture is an aim for all; an aim which will make each stronger, and saner, and wiser, and healthier, and better. It will make each in the end more helpful to all. To be sound in wind and limb; to be healthy in body and mind; to be educated, to be emancipated, to be free, to be beautiful—these things are ends toward which we should all strive, and by attaining which all are happier in themselves, and more useful to others.”

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Runner's World Interviews Me: Ted's Great Adventures

You might enjoy reading this interview online at Runner's World.

Per usual, I enjoy sharing stories about running and life and coaching and just-about-anything with anyone willing to listen and share back. I love stories. Humans are among the best story making beings in the universe. Make'em, share'em and celebrate together.

Interview topics include: my post-Born-to-Run-life, barefoot running, trail running, coaching, 2010 schedule, running 100 miles, my skateboard world record and MovNat. Enjoy.

To read interview online at the Runner's World website, click here.

Barefoot Ted

 The Orange Curtain 100K, 2008.  Photo by Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My Barefoot Running Partners: Edgar & Hiko

Hiko, me and Edgar

I've been busy. The last month has been an amazing adventure for me.

In November, Leah and I adopted another Siberian Husky (and Samoyed mix?) from the Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue organization. His name is Hiko (a name that means ice in the Inuit language). He was a dog slated for euthanasia.

The Boys: Edgar & Hiko

He had some problems in Oregon...killing chickens and also is on medication for epilepsy. Not a big selling point for most adopters. We would be his third owner in his short 3 year lifetime. But, we knew we would all get along just fine, that he would quickly fit in with our pack and get what he needed most: lots of love and lots of exercise. He got it and he's now thriving!

Urban Mushing in Volunteer Park

I am fascinated by the co-evolution of humans and dogs. I have become an urban musher taking the dogs out on running adventures every afternoon. Leah runs them every morning and then another walk before bed. Lots of movement. Lots of play. Lots of sleeping. Lots of happy dogs and humans!

Barefoot Running!

Hiko has become a permanent member of our little tribe. I am amazed by his intelligence and charm...his depth of soul...and his running strength. 6 weeks ago he was a dog with an uncertain future. Now he is a strong and happy dog, full of life and radiating good cheer to all whom he encounters...with a little help from his friends. Amazing how the universe works.






The new year and decade are upon us all. It has been an amazing year for me. I look forward to sharing my adventures with all of you and hearing your stories as they unfold in 2010. Be well...and see you next year.

Barefoot Ted


Order Vibram FiveFingers KSO Treks by clicking here. Thanks.




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Friday, September 18, 2009

Living Barefoot Show Interview


From the www.LivingBarefoot.info website: We Interview Barefoot Ted: An avid barefooter, Barefoot Ted tells us the story about how he became a barefooter, started his own line of huarache running sandals, and was featured in the best selling book, Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Duration: 60 minutes


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Denver Post Barefoot Running Debate

The Denver Post has been printing some interesting articles on barefoot running...stirring the debate about barefooting...pro and con.

It turns out that the biggest opponent of barefoot running is Mark Plaatjes, the owner of the Boulder Running Company. He makes the argument that running barefoot is not for Americans because "98 percent of the U.S. do not grow up barefoot, walking barefoot" and that "If you do not grow up barefoot, it is a really difficult thing to do."

Granted, Mr. Plaatjes is correct that many if not most Americans did not grow up barefoot..., but making the case that since they did not, they should not, is not the kind of argument one should make without a lot of evidence backing it up. And that evidence is not there.

My experience tells me that you can regain use of your feet, one thoughtful step at a time. For many, the foot has atrophied and become weak from years of wearing shoe casts. Constantly supporting the foot leads to weakness. Strengthening the foot requires patience and care, but the results are so well worth it. Your foot is an amazing and beautiful piece of magical equipment that you've inherited from a long line of successful movement. Self-healing and self-nourishing, your feet get stronger with use...the best shoes you'll ever own.

Michael Sandler of Boulder is the article's main barefoot running proponent. Sandler says that "When you are barefoot, you are forced to run the way ancient man ran, which is a soft dance," and I agree. He further points out that even his upper body is getting stronger from barefooting. I understand this too.

One of the other proponents, Ivo Waerlop, suggests that
barefoot running allows muscles to strengthen and work in different ways than they are familiar with while in shoes. Runners experience a more natural stride when they are barefoot, he says, and I agree. Further, he points out that when in training shoes, runners are more likely to land on their heel before rocking through to the toes, and that is not a good thing.

They also quote me in the article thus:

"When you take away the feeling of the impact of your feet hitting the ground, you end up putting much more impact into your body than if you felt it and adjusted your stride," said Barefoot Ted, perhaps the most well-known barefoot running enthusiast. He lives in Washington and has spread the gospel of barefoot running for five years.

"The more padded the shoe has become, the more impact people are putting into their body," Barefoot Ted said.

No shoes = bigger smiles

Further in the article, it suggests that we (Sandler and me) are on the extreme side of the barefoot spectrum..., but is that exactly true? We are just showing what is possible and suggesting that barefoot and minimal running be included in the dialogue of mainstream's understanding of running rather than resorting to scare tactics to make people shy away from being barefoot. We are living proof that it can be done...and that it is joyful.

I suggest you give barefooting a try. Start slow and build slow. Be thoughtful, mindful and gentle. The rewards seem very high, and I have been receiving a lot of emails with amazing success reports.

If you live near Boulder and you may be interested in meeting up with the Boulder Barefoot Running Club. It is an enthusiastic group of folks proving that the foot is just fine as it is.

If you are near Seattle, I do coach barefoot running technique in an introduction to barefoot running workshop which I like to do one-on-one or with small groups. See my coaching page here.

I plan on starting a Seattle (Capitol Hill) Barefoot Running Club in the near future using Volunteer Park and the Arboretum as the club running grounds. Should be fun.

For the original Denver Post article, click here.

Barefoot Ted


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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Radio Interview about Barefoot Running with Barefoot Ted

Please enjoy listening to this radio interview with me and Cody Stoots of 1560 AM The Game, a sports radio station in the glorious city of Houston, Texas, where my grandfather graduated from high school with Walter Cronkite in the 1930s.

In this interview, you will learn about how I came to start running barefoot, how I found Vibram Fivefingers and how Christopher McDougall's book "Born to Run" has helped facilitate a paradigm shift in the running world...suggesting we are not broken by design.

Duration: 30 minutes


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PS. Cody it was great talking with you today! However, I must protest the description of me as "the Michael Jordon of barefoot running"...as flattering as it sounds. I feel more like the little kid who pointed out that the king has no clothes in the classic tale.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Minimalist Runner - Barefoot, Huaraches, FiveFingers...

Howdy Folks

You may have found your way to my blog after reading "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. If so, welcome.

Many of you are probably looking for answers to the question how to run barefoot or with Vibram Fivefingers or with huarache sandals. You can learn from my experiences over the last 5 years recorded in this blog or participate in one of my coaching seminars.

However, to be up-to-date and part of a larger and growing community of footwear minimalists and barefoot explorers I suggest you check out the Minimalist Runner Google Group I started a couple years ago. You will find many like minded folks who are sharing their insights from a growing body of research and personal experience.

The mission of the Minimalist Runner Google Group is to share experiences running with minimalistic footwear, footwear that allows the foot to feel and to develop strength naturally, barefoot being the gold standard.

This group seeks to dispel the
myth that you need an overly supportive, cushioned, orthopedic shoe-boot in order to push the limits of human potential in running and exploring the world. As a matter of fact, many in the group like me suggest that not only do you not need them, you are better off without them.


Please feel free to join and share YOUR experiences and YOUR adventures, big or small.

BFT

PS. The photo above ALMOST became the cover of "Born to Run" but I did not have a high enough resolution photo of it...a kind of self-portrait taken in the Verdugo Mountains near Burbank.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

As far as I know, this is the first ever public review of the book.



This is a masterpiece. A work on running that will define running for a new generation of runners.

Christopher McDougall asks a simple question: Why does my foot hurt?

His answer spans the centuries and brings us to the cutting edge of running revelations that are as old as our genes.

Our generation of runners have seen it all. Many today thinking that to run is dangerous and that the foot is a death-trap injury appendage waiting to happen. Makes sense, for many runners running today have never known of any other way to run than with big, overly cushioned orthotic boots...cuz our feet are no good and need lots of help, right?

Christopher tells a great tale using an obscure race and race director, a tribe of beautiful people and a rag tag group of ultra runners to weave a story that brings us to a place where rediscovery of our primal connection to running...free of marketing and big bucks and bad science...leads us to new possibilities and a change of thinking that is applicable to any human being wishing to locomote herself on two legs.

This book is at-one-and-the-same-time an adventure tale of impossible possibilities and a cutting edge running research journal entry.

Take a wild trip and read this book. You're gonna love it.

BFT

PS. The book I am reading is an uncorrected proof. Actual book to be published on May 7, 2009.

PSS. Did I mention I am one of the most garrulous characters in the book? Buyer beware.

PSSS. For the latest information about the race, i.e., the Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon, be sure to check out Caballo Blanco's website here: www.caballoblanco.com you can read this year's race report here.

Link below takes you to Amazon.com to preorder ORDER:

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Link below to audio book preorder ORDER:

Born to Run AUDIOBOOK


....
Now available Born to Run T-shirts

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

"No Evidence" on Running Shoe Safety

Note: For my minimalist and barefoot running friends, this is not new news at all. BFT

By Danny Rose, Australian Herald Sun

AUSTRALIAN joggers are being warned there's no hard science underpinning what they wear on their feet.

Scientists at the University of Newcastle wanted to find independent studies on the safety of sneakers that have cushioned heels and other features to prevent the ankle rolling in.

Dr Craig Richards said an analysis of the global pool of sports medicine research turned up nothing relating to the commonly used, and recommended, sports shoes.

"Since the 1980s, distance running shoes with thick, heavily cushioned heels and features to control how much the heel rolls in, have been consistently recommended to runners who want to avoid injury,'' Dr Richards said.

"We did not identify a single study that has attempted to measure the effect of this shoe type on either injury rates or performance.

"This means there is no scientific evidence (the) shoes provide any benefit to distance runners.''

Dr Richards said Dutch researchers had previously found between 37 and 56 per cent of recreational runners become injured at least once each year.

These injuries mainly affected the runners' legs and feet, and Dr Richards said the standard preventative recommendation was to wear what was called a PCECH shoe - a sneaker with pronation control to prevent the ankle from rolling in and an elevated cushioned heel.

"Not only can we no longer recommend a PCECH shoe, but the lack of research in this area means that we cannot currently make any evidence-based shoe recommendations to runners.

"To resolve this uncertainty, running shoes need to be tested like any other medical treatment, in carefully controlled clinical trials.''

Dr Richards' findings are published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Link to story above:

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,25171370-5005961,00.html

Also, more information about the Dr. Craig Richards can be found in this article:

Aussie study challenges claims for hi-tech running shoes

And here is a link to his British Journal of Sports Medicine article:

Is your prescription of distance running shoes evidence based?

BFT

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Sunday, March 01, 2009

Why run barefoot?





This is a nice little video demonstrating why barefoot or minimal running is beneficial.

From YouTube: Same runner, same day, with no instruction given in between videos. On the left, correct nice SHOE LESS forefoot strike. On the right, incorrect, with SHOES, heel strike, braking, straining. Sneakers are designed to affect the way our foot strikes the ground, yet in this video you see it affects what we do in the air. Try this experiment yourself.

BFT

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Barefooting in the Snow in Seattle

I have been reading about folks running barefoot in snow for years on Barefoot Ken Bob's Running Barefoot Yahoo Forum, but I have not had many chances to try it myself.

Well, my chance came this week while visiting friends in Seattle. Seattle has been snowed out for an entire week, and I have had several opportunities to go outside in the snow barefoot.

I don't like running barefoot in the snow... It is way too cold if you get the wet, icy snow on your foot! Wish I would have brought my FiveFinger Flows! Now I understand how they would have been VERY useful.

However, I did manage to run exactly one mile barefoot. That is my barefoot snow running limit, my PR. It is actually quite nice to run on packed snow. It's kinda like hard packed sand...just cooler.

I prefer wearing my moccasins in the snow as long as it's not too soggy.

BFT

PS. Short distances in the snow is fine and easy...as long as you go from a warm place to a warm place.

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Volunteer Park, Seattle - Barefooted

Arigato Noguchi-san - Black Sun

My explorations of Seattle include spending a lot of time in Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle. It is an ideal playground, even for 43-year-old kids like me. Things to climb, paths to explore, fountains, wading pools, excellent views, balancing bars and friendly people.

Hug Worthy

Upward Path Beckons

Hand Railing Fun (video below)




Tower of Power...Running
(Volunteer Park Water Tower)

Tower's Spiral Stair Master

Up, up, up. Smile. Down, down, down.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Inaugural Dizzy Daze Green Lake 50K & 100K

Barefoot Ted, Barefoot Jon and Barefoot Chris

Very impressed with Barefoot Jon's and Barefoot Chris' performance at the inaugural Dizzy Daze Green Lake, Seattle 50k & 100k. Too cold for me!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

OC 100 Kilometer (62 mile) Race - Barefoot

Yes, I know that I was going to run with the newest Vibram FiveFingers called KSO's, but the course was so smooth and I wanted to demonstrate that training with FFs (which I did) did not cause me to loose my capacity to run barefoot. The mechanics are nearly identical, with the FFs giving a sense of security and some gentle cushioning that does not cause the foot to loose the feel of the terrain.

So, my goal was to run it under 10 hours and 30 minutes in order to qualify for the Spartathlon. All was on pace until around mile 45. I could tell that my legs did not have it in them to keep going at the necessary pace, so I slowed down and enjoyed chatting with fellow runner Dmitri Chechuy.

In order to keep it as close to the conditions of the Spartathlon as possible, I never ran on the dirt trail that ran parallel to the course. I stayed on the asphalt which is what I will have to do in Greece...for 153 miles!

Ended up finishing in 11 hours and 52 minutes. Those last miles were very tough with worn out legs and sensitive feet, but I knew I could do it injury free, so I continued. Plus, like many endurance runners, we like to do it because we can.

A Big!!! thank you to the legendary Barefoot KenBob for crewing me during the race and taking video and film footage. Thanks!

BFT

Photos courtesy KenBob Saxton and RunningBarefoot.org

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Eschew the shoe by Sam McManis

Sacramento Bee newspaper article link here
Published 12:00 am PST Thursday, December 20, 2007
Story appeared in SCENE section, Page E1
Title: Eschew the shoe: Runners go toe-to-toe with the competition
By Sam McManis

Sam called me about a month ago and interviewed me for this article. Here's what he wrote about me:

'Barefoot Ted' on a mission

Currently, barefoot running hardly qualifies as a "craze." Though a hardy community of barefooters has congregated on the Internet, where one Web site boasts 1,000 members, the practice still is considered alternative and marginal.

That soon will change, if "Barefoot Ted" McDonald, a serious marathoner from Sun Valley, near Los Angeles, has his way. McDonald's blog charts his odyssey of being a shoe-saddled runner who couldn't go an hour without intense pain to a shoeless runner who has completed the Boston Marathon in under 3 hours, 20 minutes, and completes 100-mile endurance races with no pain.

McDonald, in a phone interview from Southern California, recalls his first barefoot run five years ago as a "religious" experience.

"It was so mind-boggling to me," McDonald says. "It was like, 'Oh my God, I was running ball-heel-ball with no pain.' Within a year of running barefoot, I finished a marathon. Within another year, I had qualified for Boston barefoot. It's been a rapid and wild transformation."

So, if running barefoot can be so beneficial, why don't more people do it?

"Because the sports shoe companies make us believe that if we don't wear these specialty shoes, we'll get hurt," McDonald says. "It's one of the highest profit-making businesses in the country.

"But if people will only try it and ease into it, they'll find there's something elemental or spiritual in (barefoot running)."

If it seems at times that barefoot runners are zealots for their cause, it's because they firmly believe in a shoeless society. Most of the barefoot runners contacted for this story go shoeless full time.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mt. Disappointment 50K - Barefoot

People ask: Why run 31 miles on tough mountain trails barefoot?
My answer: Because I can.




Photo with Ruperto Romero, 2nd Place for 5o miler

Almost there! Photo Ben Jones

Mefeet

So, I ran the Mt. Disappointment 50K on Saturday. What a fantastic, tough race in the beautiful, rugged mountains above Los Angeles.

Ever since Trail Runner magazine called me the "Tiger Woods of Barefoot Trail Running", I have felt compelled to try and live up to the name despite a major weakness in the analogy department.

Since I was not familiar with most of the course, I did carry a pair of FiveFingers along just in case, but I never did need to use them, not because the course was easy; rather, I ran it very cautiously and thoughtfully, avoiding unnecessary trauma and never getting out of control.

This course is a fantastic course to test for a masters division in barefoot trail running. It is not a course for the faint of heart; however, most of it is quite barefoot friendly, mostly a delight for the feet, but not all.

I want to say a big thank you to Gary Hilliard and a host of volunteers, friends and family for putting together a beautiful experience. I plan on going back next year.

BFT

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Sunday, July 01, 2007

San Gorgonio: 11,502 ft. Barefoot Up Huarache Down

Me, Larry and Jeff: Summit of San Gorgonio

Headstand on the Summit


One Hemp and One Leather Huarache with 6mm Vibram
Coming down in huaraches

What a great climb. Barefoot runner Larry Miquelon of Moreno Valley, CA invited me to climb Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California, with him and his son Jeff. He had recently purchased some huarache kits and was eager to test them on a real mountain run.

Spent the night Friday, got up early Saturday and headed for the South Fork Trail. On the way to the trail, we ran into
Angeles Crest 100 veteran Angel Perez running along the highway and said hello.

From parking lot to summit is 11.6 miles. Larry and I went up barefoot.
Barefooting is much easier than it seems when going up, even steep rocky trails. We both summitted barefoot. It took 4 hours to make it to the top.

Coming down we switched into
huaraches. As you can imagine, we got interesting comments and questions both ways.

BFT

PS. Read about my barefoot climbs of Mt. Whitney, tallest mountain USA (except Alaska) click here.

Mt. San Gorgonio, tallest peak in Southern California, 11.502 ft. (3,505 meters)

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Rickshaw (Pony Cart) Suspenders


Running with Rickshaw Suspenders
HANDS are FREE
As many of you know, I have been using a pony cart as a rickshaw since last December (Xmas present).

One thing that has made it less comfortable is having to hold the rails while I run, which takes away the extra horsepower the arms can give when you pump them.

Well, today I used some braided hemp cordage to make some suspenders to hold the rails in a balanced position. Furthermore, I used the dog's harness at the front like a girdle to hold the rails against my midsection and give me the ability to get forward motion by pushing from my hips.

I was able to develop a comfortable pace pulling my wife through the neighborhood. Much easier than when I had to hold the rails and pull the rails forward with my arms.

BFT

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sports Illustrated 1958 and 1960: Barefoot Runner Herb Elliott

November 10, 1958

May 30, 1960

by Graham Thomas

Herb Elliott is still rated, by some, as the world's greatest 1500m or Mile runner.

He was virtually unbeatable at these distances from 1957 to 1961, when he won two Empire Games and one Olympic Gold Medal.

Herb first broke the four-minute barrier in early 1958 but, such was his improvement that, six months later, he smashed the World Record with a phenomonal time of 3-54.5

On 19 April, 1962, Herb Elliott announced his retirement.


BFT

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Barefoot Running: Scientifically Proven?

What do you say to somebody who argues that barefoot running has not yet been "scientifically proven" to be better than shod running?

by Ken Bob Saxton
copyright 2007-05-22

Gosh, where to start?

Running WITH shoes has NOT been scientifically proven to be better than unshod running!

Manufacturers have repeatedly proven the following;

* Shoes have cushioning.
* Shoes support the foot arch.
* Shoes prevent us from feeling the ground.
* Shoe limit the ability of the foot to flex.

They have failed to answer the following questions:

* Is artificial cushioning better for running?
* Are arch supports better for running?
* Is being unaware of how our feet touch the ground better for running?
* Is an inflexible foot better for running?

Running Barefoot has been developed and tested over a very long time, (millions of years for the evolutionists, thousands of years for the creationists, and simply "countless eons" for anyone else).

Every human is born without shoes. No human has grown a pair of shoes in response to the stimulation of running (which humans have been doing for countless eons).

Human feet are not designed to be encased in shoes.

Shoes, especially modern running shoes, are not designed for human feet.

Shoes deform natural and healthy feet.

The human foot excretes 1 pint of sweat per foot, per day, making the inside of a shoe an ideal breeding ground for fungus, etc..

It is hotter insides shoes than for bare feet (that pint of sweat doesn't cool the foot as well when entombed inside a shoe).

Shoes try to replace the natural cushioning we have, when using good running technique, by placing added cushioning in the heels. If we were meant to land hard on our heels, we would have grown extra cushioning there naturally.

The purpose of any shoe is to reduce our ability to feel our foot touching the ground as we walk or run. This encourages people to land with more impact while wearing shoes.

We are much more likely to see a shod runner landing with their legs straight and their knees locked, than a barefoot runner, because the barefoot runner would immediatly get feedback from their soles telling them not to land that way.

etc., etc., etc.,

Ken Bob Saxton

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The Zen of Running by Fred Rohe

From the book:

This experience is
a newly discovered
form of meditation
or
one more way
for you
to discover you.

whatever you do
with your running,
you only cheat yourself
by pushing, pressing, competing.
There are no standards
and no possible victories except
the joy you are living
while dancing your run.
in any life
joy is only known
in this moment — now!

so feel the flow
of your dance
and know
you are not running
for some future reward --
the real reward is now!

    in the running
    in the run
    --- now ---
    why not start
    now?

The Zen of Running, by Fred Rohé, 1974

_______________________

A fascinating running book, The Zen of Running by Fred Rohe published in 1974 started in 1969.

A free downloadable PDF version is available at Fred Rohe's current website: www.naturalhealthyellowpages.com

It is a wonderful thing that Fred has made his book freely available. I can only imagine that it has touched many folks all over the world. Blessings to him for that.

Luckily, I have a hard copy of the book from 1974. I really love it.

BFT



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