Okay, maybe barefoot running hasn’t jumped the shark… but the mystique has dies considerably.
And this is a good thing.
The running world has learned the lessons from barefoot running, namely:
- Running form is important,
- Plantar tactile sensations are useful tools,
- The transition is not without risk and won’t necessarily produce positive results in everybody that tries it,
- Shoes have a time and a place,
- Various qualities of shoes affect gait in a variety of ways.
Now that we’ve learned these lessons, barefoot running seems to have taken more or less the same place it did about four years ago- a small fringe group made up of people that genuinely enjoy the feelings of running barefoot.
Most runners have heard of barefoot running. Many runners have tried it and made positive changes as a result. It has influenced shoe design, the methods we use to conduct running research, and the public perception about movement. It has even inspired a move toward simplified living.
My recent trip to Chile was eye-opening for a variety of reasons. Aside from the amazing mountains and cool culture, barefoot running is virtually unheard of in Chile… just as it was here prior to Born to Run. That newness caused me to assess the state of barefoot running here in the United States. In relationship terms, we’ve moved past the frantic honeymoon phase that’s wrought with manic excitement. We’ve settled into a comfortable, loving warmth. We see the flaws of barefoot running, but love it anyway. It’s changed us for the better.
This is evident by the barefoot running chatter from bloggers. Pretty much all of us have moved to more fascinating topics like adventures at the gym, sex, or the law. While I’m glad I refused to adopt the “Barefoot Jason” moniker (well, except for Twitter), the branding of BRU is a little problematic. Oh well, live and learn.
So where do we go from here?
There’s still a great deal of research to be conducted. Shoe design needs to continue to evolve. There are still people that have terrible running form. The lessons of barefoot running haven’t been spread to the most stubborn of Luddites, but it will happen. From this point, we could probably drop the “barefoot” from barefoot running and just refer to ourselves as runners.