Monday, 25 August 2014

Barefoot Ken Bob saves me from BRES (barefoot running exuberance syndrome)


As anyone who knows me will attest, I'm not really one for moderation. Sadly though, my natural exuberance means I very nearly came a cropper this week in my attempt to convert from a minimalist shoe runner to a genuine (ie barefoot) barefoot runner.

As barefoot running guru Ken Bob Saxton writes in Barefoot Running Step by Step: 'Yes, running barefoot is addictive and exhilarating the moment you try it. But the new biomechanics will make you pay if you don't take it slow.' (I know it should be 'slowly', but that's American English for you).

Ken Bob's excellent book arrived just in time, as I was doing exactly what I now realise I shouldn't have been doing: I was running my usual 'shod' running distance of 5k to 8k, without adjusting my technique, and expecting everything to be fine. After three days, the balls of my feet were a bit sore, and when I woke up on the fourth day, I'd developed big blood blisters on the underside of each foot.

'Ha,' I can hear you saying, 'I told you barefoot running is stupid and dangerous'. Well no, actually, I was just doing it wrong by running in my usual running style. A life time of wearing shoes - even if most of the time they are 'minimalist shoes' - means I've forgotten my natural physiology.

I realise now that I've got to take it slowly. As Ken Bob Saxton says, 'barefoot running is so different from shod running that it's practically a new sport. To enjoy it injury free at the beginning, you need a new technique and a new attitude'.

And there's a lot more to running barefoot than the all-important knee-bend and forefoot landing, as you can see for yourself here.


Ken Bob seems like such a lovely bloke. He never charges people for his training tips and he really knows what he's talking about, after years of trial and error. You can learn more about him, and what he does on his website.

My favourite Ken-Bob aphorism, or 'Ken Bob-ism', is Ken Bob-ism number seven:

"I don't like to generalise by saying that 'everyone should run barefoot'. So I'll just say that 'everyone with feet who wants to learn to run the way we are designed to run should run barefoot'."

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