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Barefoot Questions Answered… A Barefoot FAQ of Sorts…

Posted by on Feb 8, 2011 | 3 Comments

These questions were posted by Janice Nicolls on her blog Chasing Barefoot Joy.  In my last post about running barefoot on treadmills, she left a comment asking for answers.  Here you go Janice! :-)

Q- Does running on the treadmill one time per week help when the warmer weather comes and it’s possible to run barefoot on pavement again?

A- I think it does.  Back when I had more tolerance for treadmill running, I would try to do at least 5-10 miles per week.  When spring hit and the snow melted, it didn’t seem to take too long to re-acclimate to the asphalt.  I have noticed that the time needed to re-adapt shortens with experience.  Even though I rarely run barefoot past October, I can acclimate in about two weeks.

Q- Has anyone ever carried duct tape on a long barefoot run and taped the pads of their feet when the going got tough?

A- Duct tape is a regular addition to my foot care kit I carry on long, unsupported runs.  I also keep a roll in my drop bag during ultras.  I usually use it as a make-shift bandage as opposed to a protective measure.  If I know I may need protection, I usually carry shoes.  In the summer, huaraches are my preferred “pack” shoe.  Today, I usually carry super glue for cuts instead of duct tape.

Q- How do you get ready for a trail race that’s also ultra-distance? Is it possible to run for six hours in bare feet?

A- Yes, it is possible.  I’ve run a 10+ hour 50 miler barefoot, and a 12 hour ultra barefoot.  I have also run parts of ultras for long periods of time.  Some people like Todd Ragsdale have run much longer barefoot.  As far as preparing for ultras, I make sure I know the course.  Once I know what I have to face, I find similar terrain for training.  If I do not have the opportunity to see the course, I make provisions to have shoes ready.

Q-  Is it hard to switch from treadmill to road if one does most winter training on a treadmill?

A- Not necessarily, but there is a light adaptation period due to pawback.  See previous post.

Q- Are there benefits to weight training when preparing for an ultra?

A- I believe weight training is one of the three most important aspects of ultra training (the other two being long runs and diet/hydration training).  Ultras place incredible stress on your body.  I wouldn’t imagine running an ultra without some sort of weight training.  My current preferred program is designed by Pete Kemme (http://kemmefitness.com), though I am also a fan of Crossfit.

Q- Are there any coaches out there that work with barefoot runners?

A- Yes.  I think Barefoot Ted is probably the most well-known, and also one of the best that offers one-on-one coaching.  I dabble in it when I have the time, but my teaching schedule prevents me from coaching on a regular basis.  I have considered Internet-based coaching once Shelly and I hit the road.

Some Pose and ChiRunning coaches, like Ken Schafer, would probably coach barefoot runners.

Q- How do we educate gyms that bare feet on treadmills are not a hygiene problem and that it’s safe to run barefoot on a treadmill?

A- Passive resistance:-)  In all seriousness, I think time will ultimately change perceptions.  Logic The number of people requesting to do barefoot stuff at gyms will help sway management.  Personally, I like taking the financial approach.  Round up a few barefoot friends in the area.  Find a member of management and convince them you could recruit a slew of people to that gym if they relaxed their policy.  Gyms are an extraordinarily competitive business.  With such high competition, at least one local gym should bite.

Hopefully these answers are useful, thanks Janice!

-Jason

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3 Comments

  1. Paul
    February 9, 2011

    “In all seriousness, I think time will ultimately change perceptions. Logic The number of people requesting to do barefoot stuff at gyms will help sway management. Personally, I like taking the financial approach. Round up a few barefoot friends in the area. Find a member of management and convince them you could recruit a slew of people to that gym if they relaxed their policy. Gyms are an extraordinarily competitive business. With such high competition, at least one local gym should bite.”

    Unfortunately this is true. I’m going through this with my gym right now. They won’t let me workout (or run on the TM) barefoot because they have had too many complaints. However in the spring they said they would let me teach a BF running clinic, and if successful would allow to workout BF at the gym. They get more money from BF runners, and I get to be a BF advocate a win-win situation in my books.

  2. Jen
    February 9, 2011

    Thanks for the questions and answers. I’ve wondered if bare foot running on the treadmill was a waste of my time or not. But I just can’t do it outside for now. And I loved the pawback explanation. Thanks!

  3. Janice Nicholls
    February 8, 2011

    Thanks Jason!! I really appreciate you answering my questions:) You made my day!