Category: Group wisdom

Mar 18

33 barriers to barefoot running- The wisdom of the group

Barefoot running can be as simple as taking off your shoes and running. Why then, do so many people think that it is complicated?

I was interested in the reasons we give and the reasons we have heard for putting off beginning for another day.

I asked over 1000 barefoot runners from the Barefoot Beginner community for their views. Here is the wisdom of the group:

So….we sometimes don’t start because:

1) We think it is impossible

2) We think we are old and our bodies aren’t up to it

3) In fact, we think too much. We are all runners at heart but our cognition gets in the way

4) I won’t know when I’ve done too much and my feet will get sore

5) We care too much about what other people think. People will think that I am a nutter

6) The time of year is wrong. It’s too cold….it is too hot…it is too wet

7) I am looking for just the right time and place to barefoot because I want don’t want to hurt my feet.

8) If I could find someone else to run with, then I might just get going.

9) I wear orthotics so I can’t possible barefoot

10) It will hurt and I will probably end up injured

11) My feet are hypersensitive. Barefooting is for other people with feet not like mine.

12) ..but I like shoes. Especially when I get a new pair.

13) Being afraid of failing in public. I hate running over rough stuff in public. I feel pressure to not go ‘Ow!’

14) Fear of failing and being told that ‘I told you so’.

15) A surgeon told me to give up running altogether.

16) I am afraid of develping hard skin on the soles of my feet.

17) Dog poo!!!

18) I need to toughen my soles up before I begin

19) I underpronate so it isn’t for me

20) My feet are just not that good at shock absorbtion

21) It will slow me down

22) My mileage will drop off a cliff.

23) There is so much stuff to learn before I start.

24) My feet will get dirty. That is not a good thing. Surely it is unhygenic

25) You get all the benefit of barefoot running in minimalist shoes without the drawbacks.

26) It was OK for our ancestors but they didn’t have to run on concrete

27) I need to lose a few pounds before I start. At the moment, I need cushioned shoes to handle the impact.

28) My idol is Mo Farrah. He wears shoes as do virtually all top athletes

29) Our ancestors wore shoes to run.

30) I want to get started but don’t can’t face doing a whole load of drills.

31) I just need to rid of this niggly problem in my _______(insert a body part of your choice). Then I’ll get going.

32) I keep meaning to begin but I just don’t seem to get round to it. I am busy, you know.

33) I have a race or event coming up and then another. I will start after that.

I am interested to hear if any of these strike a chord with you. Which do you think is the most common reason?



Feb 24

Lucy’s barefoot walking question – Wisdom of the group.

The wisdom of our barefoot group is a wonderful thing. I had this question in from Lucy about walking barefoot. Here are your replies:

I’m a keen walker and having met a friend who has taken to barefoot running it strikes me that barefoot walking is the way forward for me. Having searched the internet, I can find very little information about barefoot walking. I know there area couple of dedicate barefoot trails but again I can’t find out much about them. I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction? Many thanks and great site!

Paul Beales: There is The Coventry Barefoot Hiking Chapter. Stephen Bloor at does a lot of barefoot walks in Cornwall. You could also look for an Amis Sans Shoes 10K event in your area this Summer Lucy –

Stewart Bint:  The Coventry Chapter’s the one I belong to….if Lucy’s close by we’d love to see her at a meet-up

Just walk barefoot everywhere, Lucy. You don’t need devoted trails. Parks, city streets…they’re all perfect for bare feet. There are numerous barefoot hiking and walking groups on both sides of the pond and many people go barefoot all the time as a matter if course. It’s only when the UK weather gets too cold that stops me….never the terrain.

Ken Skier: I’m a barefoot runner…and am barefoot almost all the time at home, in my car, and walking in my yard. But I don’t walk barefoot out in the world. And I am not at all sure that it would be a good practice. I think that running barefoot is much safer than walking barefoot. Walking involves landing on the heel…and if you land on something sharp, there isn’t anything you can do to mitigate that. But if you run barefoot and you land on something sharp, your foot can adapt as it lands, to transfer your weight away from the point of contact. (The foot can twist easily to transfer weight to a different part of the forefoot..but it cannot twist to transfer weight to a different part of the heel.)I don’t want to pour cold water on your idea…but I thought I’d weigh in here with a perspective that barefoot walking might be a bit hazardous.(But just to be clear: I am not trying to spark a debate here. Just sharing one point of view.)

Sepeedeh Saleh: I bumbled around barefoot a lot in the summer (bit of a wimp with the cold) and will happily run barefoot. I see what you mean Ken Skier, but, yes there are barefoot walking societies about- might be worth speaking to. Also, the society for barefoot living (mainly a yahoo group but also have a website) are really into everything barefoot. Good luck! Perhaps it is just the terrain in England that discourages me from barefoot walking. Lots of small sharp rocks and sticks. Or maybe I am just a wimp!

I’m nr Manchester (UK) if u wanna join me for a bumble.

Steve Bailey: Just remove shoes and walk.

John Lupton: Getting over self consciousness is the hardest bit. I used to quickly bung a pair of flipflops on if I saw anyone, but now I don’t. In fact the surprise element is more fun! Fields and woods are good for a start and offer a range of sensations. Still working up to gravel.

Fizz Fry: Hi Lucy, I’m in the UK, and as I am not a ‘cross over bf runner’ but have started to run because of barefoot running, my fitness level sometimes precludes me running. also I am getting used to different types of terrain in bare feet and I always walk new terrain types first – one of my lives pleasures is taking the time to squelch through mud in bare feet!

You do not have to heel strike when walking barefoot, you can land on your mid foot comfortably with a little practice, which I read is good for building up the muscles in my feet. ( Barefoot Walking: Free Your Feet to Minimize Impact, Maximize Efficiency, and Discover the Pleasure of Getting in Touch with the Earth – Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee) one of many great barefoot books I have soaked up!

I would suggest building up your feet by walking barefoot at home for a few weeks and doing those exercises suggested for new barefoot runners, and then gently venture out. I always take some shoes with me, usually my sock was because I can tuck them into my shorts, and just take your time to feel different surfaces. Most of all, enjoy it, it is the most amazing feeling!

I’m in Somerset if you fancy walking in mud!

Kent Wadenpfuhl: I agree with Stewart Bint, just start going barefoot. I do recommend reading “Barefoot Walking” by Michael Sandler and the “The Barefoot Book” by Daniel Howell.

Jay Goodwin: I agree with Fizz. When barefoot, I have been told I walk ‘flat footed’ or like an NA ‘Indian’. Mid-foot strike is good when walking barefoot. I feel a little like I am reaching out with my foot instead of pounding my heel down.

Steve Bailey: But when walking you don’t “pound” your heel down as you are walking not running.

Paul Beales: Guys. If this turns into one of those long-winded debates on the differences between foot strikes when walking and running, Lucy will put her shoes back on and run away!

Tracy Mercaldo Davenport: Agreed Paul Beales! Just take your shoes off and walk, but be sensible, take shoes with you if you need some and be cautious and aware of your surroundings. Enjoy!

Christopher Cielo: Correct. Just remove your shoe then walk and walk and walk. Barefoot walking is the best practice to be a good barefoot runner.

Chris: My own barefooting started with barefoot walks around the block with my dogs. I remember getting halfway once with my soles burning up wondering how on earth I wasa going to make it the rest of the way. I did and survived and was back the next day for more. I found that I looked forward to those walks. In the crazy hectic modern cycle of life, those walks felt slow, calm and rebelious. I can’t quite explain why they felt so good but they did. I don’t walk much barefoot at the moment because I run but I think that I will go back and give it a go.

Thankyou to everyone taking part in our group discussions. You make the barefoot world go round. You can join in the chat at our facebook group. We are a warm and friendly, family group. You will be made very welcome.

Feb 06

How do barefoot runners care for their feet? Wisdom of the group

How barefoot runners care for their feet is a common question and this came in from Lois in our facebook group.

Don’t get me wrong I am by no means vain, but what sort of foot care is appropriate. I don’t want to ruin any progress with foot gels and such. I am a girl and often wear sandals work and I dont want to scare my workmates or any small children with scary feet. Your advice would be very welcome. —-Thanks Lois

You can follow the original thread here.

I have edited and condensed all your repsonses to make the thread easier to follow. Here are some of the things you said:

Fizz Fry As a fellow girl, I have to be totally honest and say that since bare footing…….. my feet have never looked better. my toes are straightening, my soles have lost that hard gnarly skin that used to require pumicing, and my toe nails are starting to grow straighter. I wash my feet more, dry well, and don’t seem to need any creams, perhaps because of the improved blood flow? the only thing I’ve put on my foot is a cream designed for dogs paws called mushers secret, which is essentially a wax, I put it on at night when I had a hot spot or 2. hope that helps! (ps children seem to love bare feet, you won’t scare them at all, and they’ll be trying to rip off their shoes / socks to join you!

I also carry a small micro fibre towel for drying off feet and paws

mushers secret

Tracy Mercaldo Davenport Ha ha! This is the question I get asked most above all from women. Like you Fizz Fry, my feet always look fresh and healthy, no hard skin and good nails. I think it does them good to be open to the fresh air, which also prevents fungal growth. The sunlight helps and mud packs aren’t just for your face! Don’t use additional moisturizers or creams though as this may make the skin too soft to cope with ground. Simply wash them daily and get the mud out from under your toenails. I have a great wooden nail brush I use on my feet when I wash them which has short harder bristles for the nails and longer softer bristles for the rest of your feet.

Rowena Eakins Ha ha I use an old toothbrush to get the mud out/off. Potential for comic mishap I admit. 

Bob Allsopp I’ve found petroleum jelly (Vaseline) is great for repairing soles without softening the skin at all. It’s my overnight miracle cure for rocksalt and / or one too many miles!

Yvonne Johnson I won’t use petroleum jelly…not eco-friendly, possibly harmful. Much safer and healthier natural alternatives. My miracle is Musher’s Secret – Protects my bare feet from road salt/other chemicals and helps prevent and heal dry skin/cracks etc. Other skin remedies are shea butter, olive oil, beeswax, etc.

I had some on hand for my dog…I was concerned about road salt on my own feet and thought if it works for my dog, why not me? Tried it and haven’t looked back!

Fizz Fry Same for me Yvonne, its the only thing I’ve put on my feet.

Jonno Add Might not be good idea to use something designed for dogs on people. Hopefully not as bad as choclate for dogs!

Fizz Fry A fair point Jonno, I generally don’t use human stuff for my dog or vica versa. Humans and dogs have different ph levels as normal for each, so it’s not a great idea to use species specific products without investigating further. in this case I used it only for hot spots, not for broken skin, and checked the ingredients – we are not told what type of wax it is made of, just that it is 100% human grade and I therefore felt comfortable applying it externally on occasion. It is the theobromine in chocolate which can poison dogs, very distressing.

Jonno Add Another was Beeseal. That one seemed all natural . In a 250 gram 1/2 lb tin instead of human stuff in tiny bottle. BeeSeal even smelled enough like honey to eat!

John Lupton O’Keeffes Working Hands cream is pretty good. It heals the cracks without spoiling your barefooting. (Chris – They also do O’Keeffes Healthy Feet)

Chris – On a personal note, my feet are in the best shape that they have ever been. I have never used any sort of cream, lotion or balm on my feet because I have never felt the need. After over 100 days of consecutive barefooting last year, my feet were exfoliated beyond belief. I did get a cut on my left arch running through woodland at one point and used spray plaster. I just applied layer after layer and it saw me through my runs. I then peeled it off and applied it again. It also had the antiseptic benefit that I felt I needed. Stung like flip each time I applied it.

Thankyou for all you responses. I hope you don’t mind me condensing your posts to make them more flow more easily. Facebook threads by their very nature go off course at times. I am sure that Lois got some excellent advice. View the original thread here.

p.s. I would be grateful if you would head over and like our facebook page here.

p.p.s We also have a very friendly discussion group. Come and join in the chat, you will be made very welcome. We are a family group (my kids read over my shoulder). We don’t do profanity and we don’t do negativity. We run, we chat and we smile.