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My Experience with Barefoot Running

I’m on vacation in Jamaica but I’ve lined up friends and fellow bloggers to keep you in the know while I’m gone.

Check out the guest posts so far:
Alaina’s Story – My Path To Bliss

Today’s guest post comes to us from Matt at The Athlete’s Plate. Matt is a recent college grad and runner extraordinaire. Today he shares with us his experiences with barefoot running. So cool!!!


Hello Peanut Butter Runner readers!

My name is Matt and I blog about my journey through health, food, fitness, and everything in between over at my little nook called The Athlete’s Plate.

When Jen asked for guest bloggers, I jumped at the chance to share my knowledge!

Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about barefoot running.

As a runner and athlete, I feel like I’ve had almost every injury out there. Knee pain, muscle strains, tendonitis…

You name it, I’ve probably had it. I’ve always been interested in barefoot running, but a long, painful experience with ITBS is what sent me seeking alternatives to the running shoes I was currently running in (Brooks Adrenaline).

My interest in barefoot running started when I read the book Born To Run.

“Born to Run” is a book written by Christopher McDougall, a journalist for Men’s Health Magazine and Runner’s World.

Basically, “Born to Run” is a story about distance running. More specifically, it’s about the people of the Tarahumara, a tribe of people living in the Copper River Mountains that is located in Mexico.

So what’s so special about these people?

Probably the fact that they can run 50-100 miles at a time easily. And they run barefoot.

Throughout the adventure, McDougall relies on science and pure facts to help explain this phenomenon. He introduces study after study to back up the fact that our bodies naturally evolved to run amazing distances without suffering injuries. I thought some of the studies were way out there, but this book did actually convince me that there is something about barefoot running that I need to investigate for myself.

From reading this book, I learned how humans are uniquely designed for distance running and we don’t need expensive running shoes. Actually, they cause more problems than they help solve.

On a whim, I picked up a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

For my first run, I ran a mile. After a week…

  • I could feel my calves working a lot harder than normal.
  • When I landed on my heel, it was very apparent.
  • I made a conscious effort to land on my mid-foot, and when I did, it felt a lot smoother.
  • When I stopped running, my feet felt like they were run over by a truck. Apparently this is normal, as my feet are building the muscles that they need for barefoot running.
  • My knee didn’t twinge once. Completely pain free 100%. YES!
  • I really liked people looking at me thinking I was an idiot.

Over the course of several months, I built my mileage up to around 8 miles barefoot. In the mean time, I was running extra mileage in my normal trainers to make up for the limitations of barefoot running while my body adjusted. Eventually, I started running almost completely barefoot.

After about a month, my schedule looked like this:

  • Monday: 2 miles barefoot
  • Tuesday: Cross training
  • Wednesday: 2.5 miles barefoot
  • Thursday: 2 miles barefoot
  • Friday: 3 miles barefoot
  • Saturday: 3 miles barefoot
  • Sunday: 3 miles barefoot

After about 2 months, it was about double that.

As of now, I run about half of my mileage barefoot and the other half of my mileage in my Brooks Green Silence (my total mileage is around 60 miles per week). Although my Brooks are technically shoes, they are very minimalist and it almost feels like I am running barefoot.

I will never go back to normal trainers. Ever.

If anyone has any questions about barefoot running (or anything else), feel free to stop by my blog or shoot me an email.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) May 15, 2011, 9:18 am

    Hey Matt!! Haha you are my HERO! Brooks Green Silence AND Vibrams?! I’m jealous!! I’ve been thinking about barefoot running for a while because of my injuries (shin splints at the mo…) but I’m a little scared of the idea haha! 😛

    Anyway, awesome post, and I’ll come by check out your blog! 🙂

  • Claudie May 15, 2011, 10:18 am

    I’m really glad this post came out right now. I’ve had Vibrams for a while, but used them mainly for walking. It wasn’t until last weekend that I started running in them (actually, here’s my own post on the subject, here).
    It’s funny because I was really inspired by Born to run as well – it’s definitely a great book worth reading!

  • Jennifer@ knackfornutrition May 15, 2011, 10:49 am

    Matt! I’m so excited you have a guest post on Jen’s blog! I love reading both of y’all’s sites on a daily basis. I read the same book and have transitioned into minimalist shoes as a result. I noticed that my feet no longer ache and my former IT band inflammation has subsided as a result of switching to the Brooks Green Silence.
    The book is a great read and definitely worth taking the time to comb through if you have any interest in the science behind running and why are bodies are ‘born to run.’
    Great Post, Matt!

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope May 15, 2011, 11:40 am

    AWESOME post Matt! I definitely think it’s great you found what works for you and your running. That book sounds really interesting, and I definitely do need to check out Vibrams. LOL and I highly doubt everyone thought you looked like an idiot, but I’m sure it was enjoyable if they did. 😉

  • Sarah May 15, 2011, 3:09 pm

    Interesting post matt! I’m battling some ITBS myself and want to look into the barefoot movement. And loved born to run- great read!

  • Angie (Losing It and Loving It) May 17, 2011, 4:25 pm

    Great post! Kevin and I just bought Vibrams for ourselves last week. I don’t wear them all the time but I did spend a few hours just out and about with them and they were neat. A few days later, I got on the treadmill and it was weird. I don’t run so I would be walking in these. We’ll see how it goes. Kev ran with them on the treadmill and he said he really liked wearing them.

    I wonder if these are something I could wear to walk a half marathon. I have walked one in regular running shoes before but want to see if I can walk in them long distance. We’ll see.

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