Why I Run in Barefoot Shoes

Change from Trainers

After my second marathon I needed to replace my running trainers. I had run so many miles in them that the stitching had split, the rubber of the soles had worn in multiple places and there were significant holes forming.

Mistakenly I had run in the same trainers for more than three years, since my first road race.

So in Autumn 2014 I researched the running shoe market. I was open-minded but was influenced by the minimalist movement.

The core principle of this movement is to focus only on those features that add value to one’s life. For shoes, this means not indulging in aspects that do not enhance performance, instead focusing on the basics. Vibram Fivefingers best fit the criteria.

The EL-X model I chose was an ideal introduction to barefoot running, and I had no problem adjusting to them in training. My first race wearing them was my third marathon.

Vibram FiveFingers EL-X Barefoot Running Shoes
My Vibram FiveFingers EL-X (Black) Running Shoes

Benefits of Barefoot Shoes

  • I experience a better fit and greater flexibility, especially for my toes.
  • I feel lighter on my feet and am able to deal with the effects of different terrain.
  • I can choose whether to run with toe socks or not. I usually wear socks in colder weather or when I run off-road. I usually do not wear socks in hotter weather or when I am undertaking faster workouts.
  • I am able to clean them easily by placing them in the washing machine.
  • I believe my feet and ankles are stronger as a result of them becoming less dependent on the cushioning of trainers, and I have developed a fatigue-resilient forefoot strike running style.

Personal Success

Running in these shoes makes me feel like a unique runner, as I am often the first ‘barefoot runner’ across the finish line. I have run more than ten races in barefoot shoes, including the V-RUN and Bikila models, and have set all my current personal best times in them.

My decision of footwear has been validated in part by a former university colleague who trained in the gym wearing them, and by inspirational runners such as Barefoot Ted and Christopher McDougall (explored in the book Born to Run). Although I do wear them out quickly, the brand provides a quality product that meets my needs.

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