Barefoot Running Reading
If you’re curious about barefoot running you’d better get some expert advise before tossing those shoes. Running shoeless will most probably help you naturally correcting several flaws in your running technique. However there are plenty of mistakes that easiliy can be avoided for the beginner barefoot runner. I’m not a barefoot runner myself, but I believe there are plenty of lessions to be learned running shoeless. As a running coach specialised in running form I read a lot about the subject. The past weeks I read ‘Barefoot Running Step by Step’, written by “barefoot running guru” Ken Bob Saxton. A barefoot runner since over 20 years Ken Bob Saxton has plenty of advise to offer. Here are a few:
1. Start running barefoot (shoeless) on gravel. Any kind of protective layer between your feet and the ground will, to some extent, let you continue with your bad running habits. Therefore you shouldn’t either start running on “easier” surfaces like grass or asphalt, but instead a “tougher” surface like gravel – which will force you to run carefully and be aware!
2. Bend your knees and relax! If you don’t bend you knees with relaxed calves you won’t be able to use your legs as springs. “Even when you’re not running you should play with technique – practise relaxing your calves, standing with your torso vertical unlocking your knees…”
3. Run from head to foot! The correction of your running form starts with the head, with an idea of how you want to run, and then checking-off the limbs and how they relate to eachother: chin, shoulders, chest, arms, hip, legs, knees, calves, feet. Working with your “proprioception”, the sense of how your own limbs are oriented in space, you will be able to “chose” a more optimal posture for running.
4. The foot: curve up the toes and lift the foot before landing. Ken Bob is very aware of imagery and using words that gives an image of what he means. Therefore don’t “strike” but “touch” the ground. Don’t “pound” the ground but “float” above the ground. Also he doesn’t like the word “toe-off”, since it implies some sense of horisontal friction. One drill is about running, barefoot of course, making perfect footprints on sand, which you can only make with a horisontal stamp.
5. The landing should be like an airplane coming in for landning, as level as possible to avoid chock force. Imagine flying with a pilot who puts down the the airplane with the nose first – or the very rear.
6. Run with a 180 cadence (30 steps per 20 sec per leg). “The trick besides faster cadence is to use your forward momentum by leading with your body, rather than interrupting your forward momentum by leading with your foot.”
‘Barefoot Running Step by Step’ is available as pdf-file and free to download here.