Born To Run So Don’t Give Up On Barefoot Running


Hi folks! Thanks for stopping by!

Photo of FitOldDog's Labrador Retriever, Willbe, who runs like the wind (as they say!).

Willbe, born to run!

Remember the Barefoot Running craze? I hear people scoff at it all the time, saying that the podiatrists and chiropractors love the business it brings. You have to do it right for you! I tried barefoot running for over a year and had lots of problems with strained tendons in my feet, even though I went slowly and carefully. I suspect that my particular problems were related to two issues, (1) I have always worn shoes, even as a kid, because I was raised in a big city, so in my mid-60s it was no surprise that it would take a while, and (2) I have a genetic connective tissue weakness that accounts for my abdominal aortic aneurysm, with a smattering of mild diverticulitis, and tendons are nothing but connective tissue. We all have something to deal with! That’s life on planet earth.

Born to run book coverAll that said, there is a lot of sense in the barefoot running approach, you just have to do it right, which will depend upon both your genetic makeup and barefoot history. I loved the book Born to Run, and I think that the barefoot approach should be included in any program of safe exercise for better health that incorporates running. It simply makes biomechanical sense!

My current approach has been to work slowly towards a very light, essentially zero arch-support shoe, gradually increasing pace and distance. Once I approach the limit of the strength of my arches to act as springs, I go back into my regular clompy supportive shoes to finish the workout. My limit so far, in a very light, non-supportive shoe, is 16 miles, so progress is being made after three years of careful work.

Anything worth doing takes time.

I recommend that you start barefoot running on grass or a sandy beach, simply because it feels great.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Hi,
    I finally read Born To Run last week in Arizona, although I bought it over a year ago. It was a wonderful read! I have, over the years, done some barefoot running (most often in socks). I tried some again in Tucson, as the track was soft and clean swept. After a workout of repeats, I finished up with a few laps of cooldown in socks (up to a mile), and felt refreshed as I was using different muscles. A workout on the treadmill was less successful as the abrasive surface gave me blisters through my socks. I’ll have to try the Vibrams I bought a while ago next. Pauline

  2. Hi Pauline, I tried Vibrams and couldn’t get to like them. I then ran in completely flattened shoes (18 months of running) and that helped strengthen my arches, so I moved on to Nike Frees, which I like as a light zero support shoe. But I am now exploring Hoka One Ones, as I am coming to the conclusion that a straight marathon is different to a marathon after a 112-mile bike ride, where your calves and feet are completely shot before you start running. They worked for my son Nigel in Los Cabos, and I’m getting to like them for runs off of the bike, but I still wear light shoes or no shoes for training at the track. Work out what works for you, but do it slowly and carefully, is my advice. AAA comes with weaker tendons, I suspect. Look forward to seeing you in NYC again. Must register. -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.