Shelly and I have been on the road for about 15 months. During that time, we’ve conducted close to 50 clinics and group runs centered around barefoot running or running gait. Most of the clinics have been held at running specialty (what we call “local running stores” in the running world) or outdoor specialty stores. Some are small businesses with single stores, others have been national “big box” retailers. We’ve met people that have decades of barefoot experience all the way to complete newbies. We’ve met doctors, researchers, and industry insiders. We’ve met ardent barefoot supports and vocal barefoot critics.
All of these experiences have taught us many lessons. Here are a few:
- Very few people enjoy wearing shoes. Most of the people we encounter dislike wearing shoes all the time. Even if they have no intention on going in public barefoot, they prefer being barefoot at home.
- About 20% of our clinic attendees are interested in actual barefoot running full-time. The rest are interested in using it as a learning or training tool, or are only interested in minimalist shoes.
- The outdoor industry is more accepting of the minimalist movement.
- Some running specialty stores REALLY embrace minimalism and teaching better running form. Not surprisingly, they tend to do well sales-wise.
- Every store has at least some interest in minimalism, and fear is usually what holds them back. Of course, this may be self-selecting as a store that wouldn’t be interested wouldn’t host a barefoot clinic…
- The medical community is becoming more accepting of the barefoot/minimalist movement.
- Some areas of the country don’t appreciate my humor.
- Okay, no areas of the country really seem to appreciate my humor.
- Casual minimalist shoes are frequently requested and growing rapidly.
- Overstriding seems to be the biggest problem new barefoot runners experience…
- Closely followed by heavy heel striking.
- A LOT of people have a goal of running an ultra some day… far more than those aspiring to run a marathon.
- Interest among women is increasing, and better aesthetics seem to be a major reason.
So there’s a sampling of the things we’ve learned. Any thoughts or comments about any trends we may have witnessed?