“The Truth About Barefoot Running”

In an excellent story for Runners World UK, Sam Murphy does something almost no other reporter ever tries: learning it for herself. She doesn’t just take a few wincing steps; she studies technique, makes a smart effort to master it, dares to climb aboard Barefoot Ted’s Wrong-Way Rickshaw, and even travels from the UK to attend the NYC Barefoot Festival (which, naturally, the US mags basically ignored. Over 400 barefoot runners and every major figure in the minimalist running movement were in the same place on the same day, yet the US running magazines don’t bother to attend to cover it. Late-breaking correction: Peter Larson of Runblogger tells me that, oddly enough, both Runner’s World and Running Times had writers at the Festival, but they were invisible then and silent since).
It’s one of the few times I’ve read a story on the subject and felt the writer really knew what she was talking about. It’s a balanced piece that gives all sides a chance to be heard, but in the end, she drives toward real answers and not the usual, shoulder-shrugging, we-may-never-know, i-think-we’ll-see-what-perfect-form-looks-like-in-heaven* cop-out.

Best quote, surprisingly, came from the managing director of UK’s biggest sports shoe store:

The industry has been guilty of making too many outrageous claims about what a shoe can do for you that cannot be substantiated. It’s often presented as a black and white scenario: buy the right shoe and you won’t get injured; get the wrong shoe and you will.

*yes, that’s actually a real quote from a story on running form. so if you don’t believe in marathoning angels, you’re out of luck.


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