Maruchy Lachance is president of Running Ninja!, a lifestyle brand for runners by runners. Running Ninja! offers a wide variety of apparel and gifts for runners to keep you happy and inspired while you’re on the run.
About a year ago barefoot running showed up on my radar, and since I’m a runner, I was immediately drawn to this philosophy and had to check it out.
I had serious doubts about this ancient style of running that was making a comeback. For years I’d heard the need for support in my shoes. The rule in the running world is that you replace your shoes after 300-500 miles of use to avoid having them lose their support.
Skeptical as I was, when I heard that running barefoot was a healthier alternative to all that cushioning and support I still pushed on. Article after article said that running barefoot is thought to be better for you because it favors your natural gait, not forcing your body to conform to the shoes. Runners agreed, reporting that their knees and/or backs felt better after running barefoot, or support-free.
So, with all the evidence at hand and seeing the trend spread through the running world, I decided I had to give it a try. Having only asphalt to run on I sought an alternative to going completely barefoot. The shoe I bought is known as a support-free shoe. Ironically, it is created by the company that is responsible for creating the support frenzy in the first place. The shoes are light, the upper part of the shoes feels like a strong nylon sock, and the bottom has a very thin padding.
The moment I hit the road, everything felt different. I felt more in control even though I was working a bit harder because I no longer had the benefit of all that cushioning pushing me along. It was like driving a stick shift versus an automatic vehicle.
The reason I am celebrating this resurgence in barefoot (or “free”) running is because it supports my personal fitness and health philosophy, which is to keep it simple. The less roadblocks we put up for those of us getting healthy and fit, the better the chances we will stay with the program and meet our physical goals.