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.