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A Pose Runner Takes Off His Shoes

Posted by on Oct 13, 2010 | 4 Comments

Thanks to Ken Schafer for this great guest-post!  If any of my readers have any interest in learning about the POSE technique, Ken is the man to contact!

I’ve been involved in learning and teaching Pose Running Technique since November of 2008. For me, learning to improve my technique was difficult, to put it mildly. I had been running since 1975, and it took me more than a year of concentrated effort to restructure my stride.  In fact, it was the most frustrating experiences of my running career, and there were many moments when I came close to throwing in towel. Fortunately, I stuck with it, and one of the unintended benefits of learning Pose Running Technique was that it seemingly made transitioning to barefoot running very easy.

I didn’t start barefoot running until I felt my running technique was sound by the fairly exacting standards of Pose. Because of this, when I started experimenting with barefoot running everything just seemed to fall into place very naturally.  That’s not to say I didn’t have some problems, but for the most part, learning to run barefoot was just a matter of allowing my feet time to adapt to rough surfaces.

My first barefoot runs were on smooth hard surfaces like concrete sidewalks and asphalt roads, and these presented no challenge for me.  I already knew how to land softly by letting my body do what it was designed to do.  As long as I maintained good Pose form, I never felt the need for shoes simply because the surface was hard. However, what I did find challenging were rough surfaces.

Naturally to meet this challenge, I located two places to train with very rough surfaces. One was a rubber coated asphalt track, and the other was circular gravel path.  At first, I would jog and walk on them intermittently, depending on how the soles of my feet felt.  Within a very short period of time, I was able to jog on them continuously. Very shortly after that, I was sprinting barefoot on these surfaces without difficulty.  As long as I paid attention to my feet, I was fine.  The few times I ignored what my feet were telling me, I paid for it with blisters.

Because I focused on learning good technique prior starting barefoot running, I didn’t have to go through both the process of relearning how to run, and the process of adaptation at the same time. In my judgment, this seems to have made the transition much less problematic.  However, a natural question might be whether or not barefoot running helped me to further improve my running technique?  To be honest, I think that it probably did, but only a little. Like many people, when I start to tire, my technique will sometimes degrade. I believe that barefoot running made me more aware of this tendency. When running barefoot on rough surfaces, I couldn’t let up on my technique for a moment, and because of this, I learned to be more vigilant about monitoring my running form.

I still have a lot more to learn about barefoot running, and I certainly intend to continue experimenting with it for the foreseeable future.  If you are interested in reading about my thoughts and experiences, please visit Your Pose Running Coach’s Blog. Here is a link directly to my posts on barefoot running Running.

Ken Schafer

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  1. kelly
    October 15, 2010


    You understood my question correctly. But unlike you I had chronic injuries and remedied the problem by improving my form. You said that the benefits of learning Pose Running Technique was that it made barefoot running very easy. I’ll add that the reverse is also true, the benefit of barefoot running is that it makes Pose Running Technique (good form) easy.


  2. Ken Schafer
    October 13, 2010

    Hi Kelly,

    If I understand your question, you are asking me what benefits I am reaping from barefoot running if I already learned to run with good technique in shoes?

    I wasn’t looking for any specific benefits other than validating that my technique works for barefoot running, the enjoyment of a new challenge, and the a chance to learn something new about running.

    I’m very fortunate that in over 35 years of running I’ve had very only one or two injuries, and I’ve never had any problems with my feet. Even when I used to be a heel striker. So I never “needed” to change my running. I just wish to run as well as possible.

  3. Ben S
    October 13, 2010

    In spite of making the switch to FiveFingers last January, I was very much averse to the thought of running barefoot over extended distances. After coming across Jason’s blog I suspected I would try it at some point, though I still questioned if it was worth the bother. Well, I’m proud to say I did my first barefoot run the week before last – 2.5 miles on pavement with no blisters! I learned more about efficient running technique, but more importantly, the experience taught me more about running and what it means to be a runner. I first began running in FiveFingers on a small rubberized indoor track at a local healthclub. It was very forgiving as I practiced good form. I later switched to trails with occasional bouts on the road. My feet continue to get stronger and I was forced to make further adjustments when my favorite trail was covered with course wood chips. All that contributed to a successful barefoot run and I plan to go again soon.

  4. kelly
    October 13, 2010


    My question to you is what benefits are you reaping from barefoot running if you learned good technique in shoes?

    Barefoot running is a personal choice. I like it. But I’ve often thought that I could apply my current Pose form if I chose to run in shoes, and not become injuried with chronic achilles tendonitis as I was before barefoot running and changing my form.