Triathlons: Barefoot Running


The Foot: I’m supposedly the one on the far left.

On the search for my mojo, I had been looking to a lot of sources. And one in particular was an unlikely source: Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run”.

And it got me thinking more about barefoot running.

So I tried it.

At the gym, I normally get on the treadmill for half an hour before my routine. So I kicked off my shoes and hit the “Quick Start” button.

Five minutes in, I had to put my shoes back on. Two points on the soles of my feet started burning. If I had continued, I wouldn’t have been able to walk for the rest of the week.

But I felt the difference.

I’m what they call an “overpronator”. If you look at the soles of your shoes and the heels are worn out in a slant from the outside in, you overpronate. I have wide feet which makes it a natural symptom.

Or is it?

When I got on the treadmill barefoot, however, my feet started reacting differently. The heels made sure never to touch the band surface, leaving me to run on the front part of my foot.

My heels never touched the band. So how can I be an overpronator if naturally and without shoes, the back part of my foot never hits the floor?

I finished the rest of my routine with the soles of my feet burning but it made me think of how much I have to take modern-day marketing with a grain of salt.


4 thoughts on “Triathlons: Barefoot Running

  1. Hi
    I was also a slight pronator but my technique was more like a modified sprinter running like a dressage pony. When I run barefoot my form changes and I am getting along much better. My feet used to burn like crazy and my first barefoot run was 40 seconds. Now I can run 4 miles.
    Happy running (and swimming….. and biking)

    • I’ve presently got skin peeling and bubbling and my foot. But it doesn’t hurt so I take that as a sign to press on. Yeah, running on a treadmill burns real quick but it’s getting better. We aren’t the Tarahuamara so it’s not going to happen overnight.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Exactly. The whole pronation myth is part of the pseudoscience of selling running shoes. Natural running (barefoot running, chi running, etc.) does include pronation, but from the forefoot backwards – this is part of the natural damping effect of the foot and leg and is correct.

    Note that if you continue, you’ll want to hone your technique to include your heel touching down at the end of your stride. But don’t worry, that will come with time. Everyone starts by concentrating so hard on landing on their forefoot the heel doesn’t touch at all. Be careful you don’t over do it though, as your calves will not tell you that you’ve over worked them until you have – you won’t be able to walk properly for a week if you do this. This type of strain will go away as your calves become stronger and as your technique improves and you use them less.

    Good luck.

    • I’ve been running barefoot on the treadmill, putting in five minute sessions into a half hour run. I’ve been noticing my heels are touching a little more than the first time but that the difference is precisely what you mentioned: that I was putting a whole hell of a lot of strain on my calves. And I could totally feel them. The sessions are only five minutes because the treadmill band starts burning my feet. My form is changing a lot as well. My heels are actually kicking up towards my glutes. I need to start taking photos of my feet because they do look a little tore up but it’s not as bad as it looks and I feel a lot better.

      Given that it’s only been about two weeks, I think I’m still a little raw. But I’m getting there.

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