Blog has moved!

The Barefoot Chronicles blog has moved to Jason's main site:

Barefoot Running University.

New posts as of 2010 have moved to the new address. Please update your links and blogroll.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Foundation of Learning to Run Barefoot

The following excerpt is taken from my Barefoot Running Guide.

The following are the principles that guide my philosophy regarding barefoot running. These principles have been developed over time based on my personal experiences, studying the available research, observing other runners, and discussing barefoot running with peers.

Principle One- There is no single right answer. Barefoot running is inherently a very individualistic activity. Each of us will develop our own style and form. There is no single “correct” way to run barefoot. My job as a teacher of barefoot running is to help you find your own style.

Principle Two- You must experiment and learn from your successes and failures. George Sheehan famously said, “Each of us is an experiment of one-observer and subject-making choices, living with them, recording the effects.” In order to master the art of running barefoot, you must be willing to try new things. You must be able to adopt the successes and discard the failures.

Principle Three- Your body is your best teacher. When following principle two, your best feedback will be your own body. Your brain has the amazing ability to receive feedback from your body, interpret that information, and adjust accordingly. Our own thought process often creates a roadblock for this process. We must learn to trust our own body.

Principle Four- Patience is mandatory. Learning to run barefoot takes time. Allowing your body to adapt to this new running style takes time. All too often we want to rush the process. This results in injury. We must be willing to start from nothing and rebuild ourselves.

Principle Five- Relaxation is the secret to great form. Barefoot running requires relaxation of the skeletal muscles. Running free and easy is the secret to running injury-free.

Principle Six- You must enjoy the process. Learning to run barefoot should be a process, not a destination. If you take the time to enjoy each stage of your development as a barefoot runner, you will be successful. This is a fun activity! Watch little children run around barefoot. Embrace that joy! Smile and savor the process!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teaching Barefoot Running

Since I finished Hallucination, I've thought a lot about how new barefoot runners learn. Part of this fascination came from talking with other runners running the Woodstock races. I was shocked at the number of runners that had purchased and began training in Vibrams (the minimalist shoes I wore for the 100 miler). Most of the conversations revolved around them asking me for advice on transitioning to minimalist shoes. I began to realize there was a genuine need for more educational resources for new barefoot and minimalist shoe runners. This realization has been reinforced by my participation in the Runner's World barefoot Forum. Many new barefoot and minimalist shoe runners were asking the same basic questions despite the many resources available on the web. Teaching is my profession. I get great joy out of educating others. I decided to begin actively teaching barefoot running as a coach and clinic director.

At first, the clinic idea seemed like a pipe dream. Would I really be able to find enough people interested in barefoot running to hold a clinic? There are other clinics available throughout the country. Ken Bob Saxton holds clinics in Southern California. Barefoot Ted McDonald holds clinics in Seattle (and a few other places on the West Coast). Jessica Lee and Michael Sandler started a barefoot running school in Boulder, Colorado (runBARE). Clearly others were finding enough runners to populate the clinics. Why wouldn't the clinic idea succeed here in West Michigan? The first order of business- finding a place to hold the clinic. That was easy enough. The next step- publicizing the clinic. I was lucky enough to get Gazelle Sports, a local running store, to hang a flyer in their stores. Our local Crossfit gym (Crossfit Grand Rapids) was also willing to publicize the clinic. I'm a huge fan of Crossfit as an ideal workout for runners and plan to recommend it to all clinic attendees. I was also able to contact the physical therapists of PT360. Scott Hadley and Adam Fujita had been recommending barefoot running to their patients from some time, and were interested in developing a barefoot running club in Grand Rapids. They are also working on an exercise routine to help injured runners. I was overjoyed to find all these wonderful contacts! As it turns out, the barefoot running scene in Grand Rapids may grow much faster than I anticipated!

As it stands today, I have one clinic scheduled (see the flyer here). I am planning on holding more starting in February. The winter months can make barefoot or even minimalist shoe running VERY difficult in West Michigan. My hope is to begin networking now. By spring, we'll have enough barefoot runners to begin events such as group runs and coordinated races. The future for barefoot running is bright!

Shameless plug for my barefoot running book "The Barefoot Running Guide"- it's available in ebook form for $10 here. I am working on a printed version.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Barefoot Running Guide

I finished my Barefoot Running Guide! This is what is included:

Table of Contents:

  • Why Barefoot Running?
  • Common Terms
  • Learning to Run Barefoot
  • Jason’s Guiding Principles
  • Running Happy
  • Barefoot versus Minimalist- Do I need a “transition shoe”?
  • Importance of Patience
  • How to Start: The ‘Lose the Shoes” Plan
  • Form
  • The Importance of Experimentation
  • Developing a Training Plan
  • Injuries
  • The Role of Relaxation
  • Terrain
  • Always Look for the Opportunity To Train (Drills)
  • Special Considerations
  • Dealing with the “Hecklers”
  • Developing Speed and/or Distance
  • Extreme Weather/ Conditions
  • Trails
  • Crosstraining
  • Training Periodization
  • Racing
  • Diet
  • Ultramarathons
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Research
  • Barefoot Resources
  • About Jason
  • My Barefoot Story
  • Bonus FAQ: How This Journey Has Impacted My Life.
  • Hallucination 100 Mile Run Race Report

It includes 77 pages (including pictures) detailing my advice on the topics covered in the table of contents. I will be developing a more detailed webpage dedicated to the guide in the very near future. As of right now, it is only available as an ebook. I will be offering printed copies in about three or four weeks. The ebook cost is $10. To go to the download page, click on the link below: