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The Ultimate Survival Guide to Barefoot Skeptics

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 | 9 Comments

The following post was written by Zoé Bazilchuk.  Read more of her great stuff on her blog “Anotheronerunwild.”

We all know that they exist. That overwhelmingly large part of our population that believe that our feet are broken, that evolution (or God, for you religious types) simply forgot to adapt our feet to living on land. They’ve tried to take into their own hands by putting enormous cushions under them (because squishy, high density foam is clearly a naturally occurring surface), immobilizing them and generally doing things that would be considered torture on any other part of the body. Luckily for those of us who don’t buy into the ‘feet are broken’ mentality, most shoddies keep their tongue, and don’t care as long as nothing is forced in their face. Then there are those others, the ones that make sure we notice them, because not binding our feet up is just so stupid that they absolutely have to comment on it; usually loudly and in public places.

You could say I’ve dealt with a lot of haters. Not so many of the type that just have to shout you out in public, but a lot of those who just can’t stand barefoot running (this being mainly due to the fact that most high schoolers have spent their whole lives in über shoes).

And so, the time has come for me to spread a bit of my infinite knowledge on the inner workings of the barefoot hater to the world… or something like that.

If you don’t have much time to waste arguing with the BFH (barefoot haters), there are three main solutions:

1) Politely change the subject.

BFH: You’re stupid. Only Kenyans with supergenes can go around anything without memory foam shoe beds and custom orthodics, unless you just get springs nailed to your feet, like these shoes. (

You: It looks like it’s about to rain. I wish I had my umbrella hat.

2) Insult them, then run away.

BFH: You should wear shoes. If you don’t wear shoes, you’ll end up crippled for the rest of  your life, and you won’t be able to run as if your feet were elephants humping the ground.

You: Maybe if your feet stopped humping the ground, you could lose your PF along with those love handles and keep up with me as I discreetly run away. (proceed to run away.)

3) Do/say something completely out there, so they just assume that you’re nuts and change the subject.

That was if you haven’t got much time to spare. The next part covers some useful tips for times when you find yourself in a full blown argument with a shoddie. If you’re like me, and just have to answer back to every single piece of shit thrown at you by them, then you’ll enjoy the next part. I’ll compile a list of arguments that I hear the shoddies use.

– “There’s no scientific proof that barefoot running is better”

First off,  you could of course mention Dan Lieberman’s research of the Running Man theory, which at least points out that man was made to run. The only problem with mentioning his study is that it doesn’t really directly address barefoot running, just running in general. Dan Lieberman is a BFR himself though, so presumably he also thinks that it is a good idea. If this does no good, turn the question/statement back on them. This usually gives a nice awkward silence while the shoddie opens and closes their mouth like a goldfish.

– “For every one barefoot runner who is not injured another ten are!”

This one is tricky, because it’s hard to not come off defensive. The natural reply is “they weren’t doing it right”, but don’t every use it! It sounds snotty, and gives the BFH a perfect excuse to mention superior genes or bio-mechanic efficiency. Instead, ask them if the statistics for shod runners are any better; or go on a total tangent and ask “Did you know that 40% of all statistics are made up?”.

–  “I tried going for a run barefoot, and my (insert runner’s injury here) flared up.”

This reply is actually pretty natural. Ask them if they could manage a V15 bouldering problem (or any other challenge in a sport)  the very first time they went rock climbing. Barefoot running, like any other sport, is a skill you have to adapt to. You can’t just jump in and do a long run right away, especially if you haven’t learned how. After all, why do people like Barefoot Ted, Michael Sandler and our very own Jason Robillard have barefoot running workshops?

– “Only bio-mechanically efficient people can run barefoot.”

Using yourself or someone as an example when countering this argument is actually a bad idea, because: 1. You come off self deprecating, or you insult someone else. 2. Who’s to prove that you aren’t actually ‘bio-mechanically efficient’? So rather than going that way, ask the BFH to define ‘bio-mechanic efficiency’. Chances are, that will  be too much. If they actually manage an answer that makes sense, the best reply is probably to ask something along the lines of “but couldn’t you learn to be bio-mechanically efficient; as it is bio-mechanics we’re talking about rather than genetics?”. Or as Chris McDougall says: if you’re trying to drink a beer, but keep missing your mouth, than you’ll rather move your arm than give up on drinking the beer, right? That wasn’t a direct quote, just FYI.

Enough for now, I think. Perhaps I’ll compile a complete list of arguments and counter-arguments for your perusal and enjoyment sometime in the future, but I’m running out of ideas, and Jason asked me to keep the post at around 1000 words.

Thanks for reading!

By the way, did you know that the word ‘orthodics’ isn’t even in my computer’s dictionary?

Zoé Bazilchuk


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  1. Ster
    March 18, 2011

    this post is extremely entertaining.
    I have only ever encountered 1 person trying to convince me to go back to shod running, he was telling me to land on my heels too.
    I just smiled, he might have thought I didn’t understand what he was saying. Having an oriental face has its advantages. =)

  2. Luke M-Davies
    March 17, 2011

    The bottom line has to be, if BF running is working well for you then why feel the need to defend your position. I do admit though, there is always the temptation to try to convert others and spread the barefoot love.

    Since I’ve moved to racing flats for all my marathon trianing, I have not suffered any serious injuries except the sore lower legs, which is jut part of my body adapting to BFR.

  3. David
    March 15, 2011

    I say screw Jason and post more then 1000 words! You have some great points and I would love to hear more.

    P.S. No offense Jason, didn’t mean any hate by that!

  4. Jeremy
    March 15, 2011

    “By the way, did you know that the word ‘orthodics’ isn’t even in my computer’s dictionary?”

    Try ‘orthotics’.

  5. ZoeB
    March 15, 2011

    Suzanne… as long as you don’t turn into a horribly drawn stick-person, it should be fine. have you seen the velociraptor doodles under ‘drawings’ on my blog?

  6. ZoeB
    March 15, 2011

    you mean that giant swedish lawyer dude who keeps spamming my blog? yeah, I guess…

    • The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
      March 15, 2011

      I like the ring of that description of me. Maybe it’s time to start another blog…The Giant Swedish Lawyer Dude.

  7. suzanne mccue
    March 15, 2011

    At my last check up, my doctor mentioned my running (I have early onset osteo arthritis and have to be careful with any type of exercise) and asked me, “Do you have supportive shoes?” I firmly and confidently said, “Nope! I run barefoot, and it’s the single reason why I have been able to keep running with arthritis”. At first she looked surprised, then I think she realized there was actually some logic there and she just said, “OK.” I’ve come to realize that a cheerful and confident answer usually shuts people up. Maybe I do come across as crazy, but I actually don’t care too much. I love the cartoon. That might have to be my back up when cheerful confidence doesn’t work.

  8. The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy
    March 15, 2011

    You’re definitely entertaining Zoe. You remind me of a certain barefoot local superhero I know. Keep up the good work.