Lifestyle

Barefoot Running Trends and Tips

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The barefoot running buzz has now spread across the globe, with runners everywhere opting for minimalist footwear like Vibram FiveFingers. Runners are now learning what Michael Sandler of RunBare has known for years.

After a life-threatening accident in 2006 which left him with a titanium femur and hip and a one inch leg length discrepancy, Michael was told he would never run again. Defying all odds, within 6 months Michael was running barefoot 10-20 miles per day, pain and injury-free. With the proper knowledge and training, aspiring barefooters can hit the trails safely and run faster than they ever have before.

Barefoot Running author Michael Sandler is hosting free barefoot running events in Encinitas and San Diego June 15-17th where he will discuss barefoot running, minimalist footwear, summer racing strategies and how going barefoot changed his life when he was told he would never walk again.

Below are five must-know barefoot running tips to help anyone – young or old, experienced or new – get started.

5 Must-Know Tips About Barefoot Running

1. Start out on a smooth, hard surface

When starting out, a soft surface is great for a little form work, but a hard surface is best. A hard surface helps you feel the ground, find your balance, and learn to step light. Smooth surfaces are also easier on your foot pads to begin with, not to worry you can build up to coarser surfaces as you progress. Be sure to keep an eye out for any tiny pebbles, without developed pads yet your feet will feel each and every little speck!

2. Go Short

This is always the hardest lesson to follow. No matter how strong you are, your tendons, ligaments and feet need time to catch up. Start with 200 yards, EVEN if you’re in FiveFingers or other minimalist shoes. Your feet aren’t used to moving this way, parts need to strengthen, others need to relax. This takes time.

3. Rest & Recover

Always give yourself a day of rest in-between workouts when starting out. It is important to listen to your body and let your skin be your guide. You are not being lazy, you are simply honoring your body and building strong ligaments, tendons and bones. Move too fast and you will be sidelined with an injury. Please don’t make us say we told you so.

4. Stay on your toes

This may go without saying, and it may not. You are changing your stride from a heavy heel strike to a gentle forefoot landing (aka “toe running”). You need to build up achilles and calf strength slowly. This new stride will feel great and you may be tempted to go a little further. Before you overdo it, remember that one mile barefoot or in minimalist footwear is the equivalent of thousands of calf raises with a new forefoot strike.

5. Stay tall

Imagine a string pulling up through your head and to the sky. Straighten your spine, push your shoulders back, and open up your chest. The taller you stand, the more you’ll stay on your toes, keep your core engaged, and be light on your feet.

Co-founded by Chief Coaching Officer Michael Sandler and President Jessica Lee, RunBare is the premiere educational and informational resource for everything barefoot running and barefoot walking, as well as race training, nutrition, well-being and physical and mental wellness. Their book Barefoot Running: How To Run Light And Free By Getting In Touch With The Earth debuted in May 2010 and has since sold over 12,000 copies. Barefoot Walking: The Greatest Exercise on Earth is due out January 2012.

FREE San Diego Barefoot Presentations:


  • Wed, June 15th @ 7:00PM – REI San Diego

5556 Copley Dr San Diego, CA 92111 P: (858) 279-4400

  • Thur, June 16th @ 7:00PM – REI Encinitas

1590 Leucadia Blvd. Encinitas, CA 92024 P: (760) 944-9020

  • Friday, June 17th @ 7:00PM – Adventure 16

4620 Alvarado Canyon Road San Diego, CA 92120 P: (619) 283-2362

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