The Bare Truth About Barefoot Running

Austin Marathon 2104 Cropped
Austin Marathon / Half-Marathon February 2014

Vibram, maker of FiveFingers minimalist shoes, recently settled a lawsuit filed by a woman who accused the company of false advertising. As a result of the lawsuit, Vibram has to pay out $3.75 million dollars in refunds to people who purchased Vibrams from March 2009 until the date of the first summary settlement notice. Leaving aside the issue of frivolous lawsuits and personal responsibility in the use of any purchased product, I want to discuss the way news of this lawsuit relates to barefoot running in general. Reading the various articles about the lawsuit in various sources, I became annoyed at the general, blanket statements against barefoot running that appear in numerous articles, but especially at the negative statements that appear in the comment sections following the articles. I don’t have the time to comment on every article I read, although I have a deep desire to respond to the incorrect and uninformed statements that have appeared in relation to news stories about the Vibram lawsuit. Too often those people who support barefoot running as a viable alternative to wearing footwear fail to fully address the criticism in the their responses to the criticism. I decided that a writing a blanket response in one place, my blog, would be the best way to address all the offending statements and information regarding barefoot running. Continue reading “The Bare Truth About Barefoot Running”

Xero / Luna Huaraches: A Review (Updated Xero Review)

View from Eisenhower Tower 1
View from tower at Eisenhower Park

Last year I wrote the review (below) on the Zero huaraches I fell in love with. Unfortunately,

the Xero’s had a problem that make running on trails in the hot, humid Texas summer difficult: they lack surface texture necessary for keeping feet from slipping around in them. I like the Xero’s, I really do; however, I just cannot run well in them with my sweaty wet feet sliding around as I run. I turned to Barefoot Ted’s Lunas, the Leadville Pacer, which are made the monkey grip technology. The surface of these huaraches are textured for better traction. These huaraches are make running with wet feet much more manageable. I’ve been running trails in these sandals since last October and haven’t had one problem with my feet slipping around on the sandal’s footbed. For people who run in climates that don’t generate a lot of perspiration glow when they run, the Xeros may work just fine. For the rest of us, however, the Lunas’ monkey grip technology is necessary to prevent the slippage of sweaty glowing feet!

If my toes could sing, they would have been singing with joy when I wore my new custom-made Zero huaraches on an inaugural run on the unpaved trails at Eisenhower Park. Since that day seven years ago when I took off my running shoes and threw them away (well, actually I donated them to Good Will) to finally liberate my toes and feet from their culturally-imposed imprisonment, I’ve worn nothing at all on my feet when I run on paved surfaces. My feet are always joyful when they move me, unshod and unfettered, along streets and sidewalks. I do love to run unpaved trails, as well, and my trail running makes my feet, and thus my trail runs, a little sad. These trails in Texas are technical, with rocks, sticks, tree roots jutting up everywhere from the dirt. Running these trails barefoot is hazardous (although I know a barefoot woman in Boerne, TX, who does run some of them without any foot covering at all). I have run some trails in mountains in states other than Texas and because of the more gentle nature of those trails, I can run them with bare feet very easily. Here in Texas, however, I simply have to wear a little something on my feet when I run unpaved, technical trails.

Inaugural Xero Huarache Run Continue reading “Xero / Luna Huaraches: A Review (Updated Xero Review)”

“What Would Meghan Arbogast Do?” Age is No Excuse for Diminished Running Performance

“Our plan had been to run together for hopefully a couple of hours. Amy and I are similarly enough paced that it made sense to stay together as

Meghan Arbogast - Picture from sacramentorunning.com
Meghan Arbogast – Picture from sacramentorunning.com

long as possible. Working with someone on a flat paved long straight road has a lot of appeal, especially if there is any wind involved. Before long we were clicking of 7:07 miles. We didn’t need to run that fast, but we were comfortable, and I use my heart rate monitor during races to keep myself in control. For the first couple of hours it was 155 or lower, which was right on target for a sub-8 hour day.” (Meghan Arbogast, “Tokyo Shibamata 100k 2013,” Racing Through My Life)

“Even leading senior athletes can be subject to some of the fallibilities of age. At the New Zealand masters championships, I listened to a vigorous discussion between two upper age-group 10,000m contenders, tough runner talk about how hard and tactical their race had been. They sounded just like two competitive 25-year-olds – except that they couldn’t remember the names of any of the other runners. “ (Roger Robinson, “New Research on Older Runners,” Running Times, March 20,2013)

Perhaps the most worrisome thing about aging is the forgetfulness that creeps up time and again. These days Phillip and I will sit down to watch a movie that we think we’ve never watched. Partway through the movie, something will seem familiar; one of us will ask the other if perhaps we have seen the movie before. A few scenes more, and we’ll realize that yes, we have watched the movie before. Between the two of us, we’ll start to piece together the movie, remembering something or other that will come up in later scenes. Then one of us will ask the other how the movie ends, and neither of us will be able to remember the ending, so we forge ahead through the entire film just so we can see once again how it ends! Other smaller memory lapses are nuisances, such as those times I walk into a room to get something, but forget what I went into the room to retrieve. I listen to radio shows and read articles that cover issues such as recognizing the difference between normal age-related forgetfulness and more serious causes of forgetfulness such as Alzheimer’s disease. I carefully note the symptoms of each and measure my (or Phillip’s!) moments of forgetfulness against the list just to reassure myself that we’re merely dealing with the natural progress of aging. Continue reading ““What Would Meghan Arbogast Do?” Age is No Excuse for Diminished Running Performance”