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October 16, 2009

Video Instruction

We’ll move forward into the weekend by backtracking a little bit on the whole notion of barefoot running.

More specifically, for as much as I’m practicing and promoting barefoot running, I haven’t described in much detail exactly how your form changes when transitioning from traditional footwear to a “forefoot running” shoe (such as Nike Free, Newton Gravity, or the ECCO BIOM, which will be reviewed later this month), to minimalist footwear (Vibram or Feelmax), to finally ditching the shoes altogether.

It’s a concept that’s much easier to feel and visualize than to describe in writing – and since I can’t take everyone along for a run, I hunted down some videos that should help illustrate the differences in running form.

The first is from the Newton website, with Chief Technological Officer Danny Abshire – himself an experienced ultrarunner – explaining and demonstrating forefoot running, and how Newton’s shoes are designed for this specific style. Although it’s a promotional video for the company’s product, there are a lot of simple instructions here to illustrate some good basic points:

When you’re ready to ditch shoes altogether, there’s no margin for error in using proper form; if you don’t get it right, you’re assuming a high risk of injury. Jason Robillard is a Midwestern runner who has launched a barefoot instructional website, and in this video, he demonstrates proper barefoot form.

If you’re like me, one of the first things you’ll notice above is how slow barefoot running appears, and you’ll wonder whether it’s possible to run at high speeds, especially over rough terrain. So to give you a sense of what’s possible, here’s a video from perhaps the most popular barefoot runner in the world: Barefoot Ted, who has been running without shoes for more than five years and has a coaching service of his own. He’s also an accomplished ultrarunner, having finished several 100-milers in Vibram FiveFingers – including a sub-26 hour finish at Leadville this summer.

In this video, Barefoot Ted dispels the notion that barefoot runners have to be slow and cautious all the time; if you build up to it the right way, your naked feet are capable of supporting some truly remarkable activity:

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to the level of Barefoot Ted’s proficiency (although an ultra in Vibrams is an intriguing possibility), but it’s nice to know that I’m not pushing any envelopes that haven’t already been torn through. If we recognize what kinds of accomplishments are possible, and attentively use the proper means to reach them, there’s virtually no limit to our progression as barefoot runners.


Stuart 10/21/09, 9:18 PM  

I saw a few people wearing VFFs - the trail version, at the 'hood, I've no reason to believe they didn't finish so it's gotta be possible!

Madness I say!

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