Barefoot and minimalist running has been a hotly debated topic since it exploded into the public’s consciousness when Abebe Bikila won gold for the marathon in the 1960 Summer Olympics — which he ran barefoot.
Supporters of barefoot running say they experience fewer injuries than when running in shoes, but detractors say the very lack of shoes can cause all sorts of problems.
Born to Run author Christopher McDougall is a definite supporter of barefoot running. He writes that the “entire, multi-billion dollar [running shoe] industry is based on a campaign not of facts, but of fear. Fear that if you don’t buy a $175 sneaker and replace it in three months, you’ll ruin your knees.”
And he says he backs up his stance with research, science and years of personal experience running barefoot, quoting the eminent pediatric orthopedic surgeon and researcher Dr. Mercer Rang, who was of the opinion that: “Shoes do no more for the foot than a hat does for the brain.”
If you’re interested in running barefoot (or curious as to why on earth anyone would chuck their expensive, well-padded, aerodynamic shoes to run naked), Zen Habits creator Leo Babauta has a post called “The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Barefoot Running” that’s well worth reading.
We’ve also compiled a list of 21 blogs for your perusal, to be enjoyed while seated comfortably, with your bare feet up, of course.
BarefootRunning, Twitter: @KenBobSaxton
Ken Bob Saxton has completed more than 400 races barefoot and is a co-author of Barefoot Running Step by Step. He founded the website BarefootRunning in 1997 and is known to his many fans and workshop students as the Barefoot Running Guru.
Barefoot Ted, Twitter: @BarefootTed
Featured in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run, Ted McDonald (who is better known as Barefoot Ted), has spent a decade mastering barefoot long-distance running. From his home base in Seattle, he coaches beginners and is also founder of Luna Sandals, a barefoot-sandal company.
Runblogger.com, Twitter: @Runblogger
Pete Larson started running in 2007 and began blogging two years later. Although it’s mainly reviews about running shoes and gear, there are posts on the science of the sport and running form. One example is an in-depth look at a study on barefoot running Kenyans and another is how a shoe changes barefoot gait mechanics.
Barefoot Angie Bee, Twitter: @AngieBeeHotz
Angie Bee Hotz says being barefoot is more than just being without shoes: “Barefoot is a philosophy and way of life. It’s a way of looking at things clearly instead of muffled by shoes or any other kind of cover up we might have for ourselves.”
Nerd Fitness, Twitter: @NerdFitness
Steve at Nerd Fitness says he helps “desk jockeys, nerds, and average Joes level up their lives.” A supporter of barefoot running, he believes it’s “safer than wearing the latest $200 state-of-the-art, clinically-designed running shoe.”
Beginning Barefoot, Twitter: @BarefootDawsy
From Sydney, Australia, this barefoot runner, who is relatively new to running, created the blog as a “place for new runners to go to get their feet wet and learn to enjoy running, before worrying about all that advanced stuff!”
Running Naked on Sharp Pointy Stuff, Twitter: @zapmamak
Krista Cavender, who describes herself as a barefoot/minimalist ultra runner, is also a designer whose work can be found at Zaps Threads. Embracing alternative training methods is one way this artist and mom stays sane, has fun, and maintains life balance.
Chaser Williams is a barefoot runner who says he’s “training to run ultra marathons and such.” For his 30th birthday in December, he treated himself to a run: 30.36 miles with a running time of 5:51:42 (and selfies every 5 miles).
Runner’s High Tie Dye, Twitter: @barefootalex
Alex Ramsey is an avid barefoot and long-distance runner who started a 3,000 mile run in January 2015, from the west coast of the U.S. to the east. He’s also the co-founder of Runners High Tie Dye, t-shirts with designs “inspired by the runner’s high typically felt by running enthusiasts.”
This “journey of the sole” blog is by ultrarunner — and great writer — Trisha Reeves, who started running for exercise in 2002. It took eight years before she discovered “the lost art of barefoot/minimalist running,” and she says that since then she’s become the runner she never really was before.
The Barefoot Professor, Twitter: @barefoot_prof
Daniel Howell, Professor of Biology at Virginia’s Liberty University and author of The Barefoot Book: 50 Great Reasons To Kick Off Your Shoes, not only runs thousands of miles barefoot, but he lives barefoot too — and has for years.
John Durant, Twitter: @johndurant
Author of The Paleo Manifesto, John Durant is also founder of Paleo NYC as well as Barefoot Runners NYC. He advocates the caveman diet and sees insects as a protein source that is not just inexpensive, but healthy, sustainable and ethical. He practices what he preaches, following a hunter-gatherer diet with intermittent fasting, and doing polar bear swims in the Atlantic and barefoot running in Central Park.
Run Bare, Twitter: @runswithspirit
Barefoot running coach and runner Michael Sandler, along with his wife, Jessica Lee, co-founded the Barefoot Running Club in Boulder, Colorado. They also formed Run Bare, which they define as a “barefoot wellness school to help people heal injuries, get active again, reconnect with Mother Earth, and discover a healthier lifestyle.”
Barefoot Running University, Twitter: @barefootjason
Jason Robillard is a barefoot ultra marathon runner and author of The Barefoot Running Book. Owner of the Barefoot Running University and one of the founding members of the Barefoot Runners Society, a national non-profit organization dedicated to advocating for the acceptance of barefoot running, he says his teaching methods “can help anyone learn to run barefoot, or run in minimalist shoes like Vibram’s Five Fingers.”
Barefoot Blog, Twitter: @vivobarefoot
Vivo Barefoot is a retail site that claims they launched the first minimalist shoe back in 2004. Today, they offer a large line of minimalist sneakers with designs for specific terrains and activities, all using “barefoot technology” so when worn, the sensation is one of “walking barefoot without actually walking barefoot.” They’re teachers, too, with a Running Barefoot FAQs and even a section on exercises for skilful running, called toe-ga.
Emilie Reas, Twitter: @etreas
This cognitive neuroscientist and self-described fanatic runner offers barefoot running tips in her blog posts, like “rough gravel is ideal for learning how to run lightly and softly” and that blisters, abrasions and callouses are usually due to improper form and will disappear as you self-correct. Newbie barefooters worry about things like cutting their feet on broken glass, but Emilie says: “The skin rapidly adapts to barefooting by thickening, becoming remarkably resilient.”
This Canadian expat in Israel says he loves to run, “really far and as fast as possible,” and runs with his daughter, Budgie. A barefoot/minimalist runner at times (shod in Luna Mono and xeroshoes), he has some thoughts on going naked, saying: “While I appreciate many aspects of minimalism in general, it should be noted that our pre-iron age ancestors lived horrific lives replete with ignorance, fear, disease, shockingly short lifespans, and wholesale violence. To be ‘paleo’ was to die young … with or without shoes.”
Barefoot Beginner, Twitter: @bfbeginner
Chris Fielding started this blog to record his journey “from 40 something broken runner to injury-free barefooter.” While he says he also runs in shoes, it was 25 years of standard running that brought him to a place where he was “either going to give up running altogether or needed to find a way to become injury free.”
Miss Zippy, Twitter: @MissZippy1
Amanda Loudin is a fitness writer, runner and running coach who says she’s been running for more than 15 years, “…and in that time have come full circle, from traditional, built-up motion control shoes all the way to minimalist shoes and yes, even some barefoot running.”
Wear Tested, Twitter: @MinimalistRunnr
This site is for barefooters looking for their next pair of minimalist shoes. There are more than 250 reviews on barefoot-style shoes, and many of the sneakers are wear-tested sales samples.
Anton Krupicka, Twitter: @antonkrupicka
This ultra-runner regularly wins 100-mile marathons and is known not just for his obsessive and compulsive training, grand adventures and long hair and beard, but also for his minimalist approach, which often includes minimalist running shoes.