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Barefoot Running… Why it is Becoming so Popular

Posted by on Nov 1, 2010 | 9 Comments

I like to observe people.  Behaviors fascinate me.  Motives behind behaviors fascinate me even more.  Since barefoot running started to explode way back in 2008, I’ve noticed one commonality… people are having FUN.

It doesn’t matter your age or ability level.  When we take off our shoes and take those first few barefoot strides, something magical happens within our brain.  The sensation of the ground immediately awakens a long-dormant child-like joy.

This simple joy has a very pleasant side-effect… it makes running fun.  Really fun.

I see a lot of runners laboring through training runs and races.  Shelly and I ran a 5k this weekend (full disclosure- I was wearing minimalist shoes due to low temperatures and a not-quite-healed blister from an overzealous run in NYC).  Sidebar- we ran the 5k in costume… follow the link to her blog to check out the pictures.  Most people had a look of absolute agony scribbled across their faces.  It’s a look I find increasingly disturbing.  These runners are not enjoying the act of running.

Our nation is facing an obesity crisis as we eat more and exercise less.  Exercise has been relegated to an “I have to undo the damage I did by eating thirteen Taco Bell Chalupas” activity.  Many people no longer exercise to experience the freedom of movement.  Exercise becomes a means of blunting the self-loathing we experience from knowingly engaging in self-indulgent excessive gorging.

For the record, I’m not immune to this concept.  I ate about 3,000 calories of candy this weekend, and felt the overwhelming desire to “run it off”.

I see barefoot running or even minimalist shoe running as a means of reversing this aversion to exercise.  It eliminates many of the aches and pains typical of shod runners.  It rekindles our inner sense of adventure.  It reignites our passion to sense all that is around us.

Why is barefoot running becoming so popular?  It makes running fun again. 😉

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    November 4, 2010

    […] think of running as exercise. It’s not a chore. Do you run because you ate too much for lunch and you want to burn it off? I hope not. Running […]

  2. Fitz
    November 3, 2010

    I think the most unique experience of barefoot running is its sensory overload – you FEEL the ground and the weightlessness of your feet. It’s surreal when you first try it and makes your entire body feel more alive. There are a ton of nerve ending in the feet and we typically block all of this sensation by wearing shoes all the time. Running on soft grass with some dew is an incredible experience!

  3. Janice
    November 2, 2010

    I think I actually find JOY when I run barefoot, and that’s something I’ve been chasing my whole life. Even when my feet are tender afterward, I want to go back and do it again. Janice

  4. Boris Terzic
    November 1, 2010

    wow that is a load of cals!

  5. Russ Taylor
    November 1, 2010

    Since getting my food right I’ve been able to enjoy a summer of barefoot running merely for the fun of it and not for the calorie burning effects. I was gatewayed in by Born to Run as well, but after my first barefoot run I was hooked. It’s just too much fun and feels so nice. Even when it’s a little painful it’s better than the sensory blindness of big thick shoes. I’m going to TRY and run barefoot through the winter but I think I’ll have to go with Injinji’s and KSO’s.

  6. Colt
    November 1, 2010

    Even Runner’s World Magazine gave it a fair shake in a recent article. That’s something I never thought I’d see happen.

  7. Melyssa
    November 1, 2010

    Barefoot running is definitely getting some attention in the media There are quite a few followers on twitter. Many sites like this are making it easier for people to find other barefoot runners, or to learn what it’s all about.

    And yes, I got my intro to barefoot running through Christopher McDougall’s book. It opened the gateway for me. Others have gotten their first exposure by people they meet, seeing people wear Vibrams, or seeing people run completely barefoot.

    And with more and more doctors mentioning the advantages of barefoot running, I think people are starting to find the evidence and studies more credible.

    It really is quite amazing to see how it’s growing.

  8. Alex Hobbyjogs
    November 1, 2010


  9. Brandon Mulnix
    November 1, 2010

    William Wallace!!!!

    Why is it becoming more popular…
    Its a culture thing as well. This generation is the Dare to be Different generation. Not wanting to be like other people, finding something that makes you stand out. You see it in the way they dress and act. You can ask yourself “Why are piercings so much more popular?”… Anything that makes a person stand out or be noticed is starting to be popular.