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Barefoot Running University.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Barefoot Running... Predictions for 2010

This last year has been a banner year for barefoot running.  Here are just a few of the major events that occured:
  • "Born to Run" was published.  This event really put barefoot running on the map.
  • Chris McDougall goes on media tour to promote book, ends up convincing hordes of people to give barefoot running a try.
  • The Runners World Barefoot Running Forum is founded and becomes a major resource for new barefoot runners.  
  • Ted McDonald's Minimalist Shoe Google group experiences an avalanche of new members.
  • Three of us (that I know of) run a 100 miler in Vibrams (I ran Hallucination, Ted ran Leadville, and Leif Rustvold ran Hunderd in the Hood.)
  • Rick Roeber is closing in on 50 barefoot marathons.
  • Many great barefoot resources become available online (
  • Several races add a "barefoot division"
  • Vibrams become crazy popular; become difficult to find.
  • Barefoot Running University was launched.  Yes, that's a shameless plug.
This leads me to my predictions for 2010.
  • The soon-to-be-launched Barefoot Runners Society will become a national organizational force in the barefoot running community.
  • Barefoot and minimalist running clinics will continue to develop (
  • Individuals will continue to push the envelope of barefoot running.  Personally, I would like to run a 100 miler barefoot.
  • Barefoot running clubs will begin to spring up throughout the country.
  • Peer-review empirical research will be published adding further support to the practice (there's already a sizable collection of empirical evidence supporting BFR:
  • Major shoe manufacturers will roll out new lines of minimalist shoes (ala Nike Frees) to capture the upswing in minimalist footwear interest.  They may also remarket their current minimalist lines (racing flats) as barefoot-friendly.
  • POSE and ChiRunning will REALLY embrace barefoot running and tout themselves as being THE way to learn barefoot running, which will annoy me even more.
  • A host of books and movies will be released about barefoot running (including my own book that should be released sometime in January... stay tuned!)
  •  More members of the medical community will embrace barefoot running, nay-sayers will point to "too much too soon" injuries as evidence that barefoot running is bad.
  •   Hollywood will embrace barefoot running which will cause us long-time barefoot runners to groan... we will have officially reached "fad" status when Joel McHale makes fun of us on "The Soup".
2010 will be a huge year for barefoot running.  This is a movement that will reshape the running industry.  It promises to be an interesting ride!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Barefoot running, Vibrams, and winter traction

So far, I've done about four snowy runs barefoot and three in Vibrams.  The results- Vibrams suck for traction on trails.  Barefoot offers surprisingly good footing, but is difficult when the temps drop below 25 or so.  The positive about Vibrams... they really force you to work on trail running skills.  There's nothing quite as scary as flying down a hill at a 5:00/mile pace on what are essentially ice skates. 

The winter experimentation continues...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Barefoot Running, Running Barefoot, Vibrams, and any other keywords that will attract fellow Barefoot Bloggers/Webmasters!!!

I have recently come across A LOT of people that have started blogging about barefoot running. Some are brand new; some have been doing it for some time. I have also come across a large number of new websites dedicated to barefoot or minimalist shoe running. My ultimate goal is to unite the worldwide barefoot and minimalist shoe running community to help promote our common cause. As a means to that end, if you are currently blogging about barefoot or minimalist shoe running, have set up a website, or are writing articles, PLEASE CONTACT ME!!!! I will be happy to add your link to my sites. There are a lot of us out there... we just have to find each other!

Best of luck in your adventures!

-Jason Robillard

Monday, December 14, 2009

Second Barefoot Book; Winter Running

What started as a slight modification of the original barefoot and minimalist shoe book I was writing has turned into an entirely different project.  I have since decided to separate the books with the new one being directed toward the brand new barefoot or minimalist shoe runner.  The previous book will be geared toward a wider audience.  The beginner book is nearly complete and will hopefully be printed by mid-January.  The other book will continue to be a work in progress as I collect more information and continually update by sending out the newest pdf to the individuals that have purchased it.  

In other news, my experimentation with winter barefoot running has netted mixed results.  Trail running has been better than expected, even in very slippery snow/mud conditions.  I really feel as though I am honing my barefoot skills as a result.  Both trail runs have been about 28-32° with still winds.  I did find a definite limit, however.  We had a blizzard this last Thursday.  I saw it as an excellent opportunity to test winter barefoot running.  Air temp was 15°, -2° (F) with wind chill.  I ran .33 miles through about 12" of snow.  It was horrible.  I still have some residual "weird sensations" on the tips of a few toes as a result.  There's no frostbite, but still... it was a bad idea.  I have since learned that 23° appears to be the magic "frostbite" number.  Warning to all BFRs... as the temps approach that mark, exercise extreme caution!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Western States

Well, the western States lottery was held today. I cannot believe how enthralled I was with the selection process. I think I spent two hours glued to my computer screen watching the names being drawn. As luck would have it my name was not called. I can now cross the 2010 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run off my schedule.

This more or less solidifies my 2010 schedule. It should look something like this:

January: No planned races
February: No planned races
March: Phil Stapert's Fat Ass, likely a 70 miler
April: Running Fit Trail Marathon, Pinckney, MI
May: Mind the Ducks 12 Hour, Rochester, NY
June: Wild West 100k, Lowell, MI
July: Great Lakes Relay
August: Burning River 100, NE Ohio; One of the Woodstock races, Pinckney, MI
September: Dances With Dirt, Hell, MI; North Country Trail Run, Manistee, MI
October: Oil Creek 100; Oil City, PA

Of course, this is a best-case scenario. In all likelihood, I will only do about four of these races.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is barefoot running a "fad"?

The following excerpt is from my barefoot running book- "The Barefoot Running Guide"

A fad is defined as a temporary fashion, notion, or manner of conduct that is enthusiastically followed by a group. Until very recently, barefoot running was an obscure practice followed only by a tiny group of dedicated individuals. Several events have worked to change this. First, the peer-reviewed research began to make headlines as it became increasingly clear that the modern running shoe was not meeting the needs of all runners. The advances in technology may have a negative impact on the health of runners. This has led some members of the medical and running community to question the logic of the modern running shoe. This skepticism made a relatively small impact on the running community.

The second major event was the release of the book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. McDougall presents a convincing argument in support of minimalist shoes and barefoot running. The popularity of the book as spawned an enthusiasm that creates the perception of this movement being a fad. Personally, I do not believe this movement is a fad. I do not think barefoot running will ever surpass the popularity of shod running. However, I do believe this movement will pressure shoe manufacturers to critically examine the research and development of their current shoes. I believe there will be a slow movement away from the supportive and cushion technology so prevalent today. There will be some that run barefoot a majority of the time. The “fun factor” alone will assure that. The majority of runners will opt for the more conservative approach and switch to more minimal shoes. Barefoot running is not a fad. Rather, it is a movement that will eventually help all of us become healthier runners.

There will always be some skeptics that question to logic of the barefoot/minimalist movement. There are many runners that have no history of injury using cushioned, supportive shoes. Those runners should continue running as they have previously. If you are one of these runners, occasional barefoot running may be a healthy supplement to your normal training routine. Unless you are interested in barefoot running for the enjoyment factor, there is no need to completely abandon your shoes. You will get some benefits of barefoot running even from a single unshod mile each week. If you are one of these runners, read through my guide. There are various sections that will be useful to you, even if you decide to forgo barefoot or minimalist shoe running.