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Barefoot Running - A Textbook
on 3 June 2011
Firstly, I am new to barefoot running, and the barefoot running world, having only discovered its existence a few months ago. I was impressed by the many claims that with proper technique, and careful transitioning from shoes to no shoes over a period of time, many running injuries tend to lesson dramatically, and the niggles and pains experienced by many runners in thick-soled running shoes, disappear entirely. In order to find out a bit more about the background, methodology, techniques, facts and myths about this topic, I decided to get this book.
This book has been written by experts in this field, two men who have been running barefoot since 1987, and regularly complete full marathons and other athletic events wearing nothing on their feet, as well as leading classes and giving seminars around the world on barefoot running technique. Ken Bob Saxton is known as the 'Guru' of shoeless running, and this book certainly isn't out of line with that premise.
It is very nicely produced and published, a good size, with thick pages, all full-colour and packed with photographs, and is broken down clearly into the following chapters:
An introduction to the authors, and the basic premise of barefoot running.
The Technique, head to toe.
Cautions about barefoot running, and the transition to barefoot running.
Barefoot Shoe solutions (Vibram Five Fingers etc) and why to avoid them at first.
Why barefooting will make you faster.
Lastly a chapter on real-world feedback from runners, and a last section on looking to the future.
There is a lot of writing in the book, it is not merely a 1, 2, 3 guide of how to run, instead there are many stories of past experiences, lessons that were learned, and at what cost. In many ways this book is a semi-biography of Ken Bob Saxton, which sometimes feels as if it is getting in the way of the real reason you bought the book - to learn how to run! In any case, it is well written, in a humorous style, and is very candid, Ken reveals all the ups and downs along the way.
The photographs are excellent, and as well as all the expected photos of healthy smiling people jogging through beautiful scenery barefooted, there are plenty of detailed close-ups of foot landing positions, and what good barefoot form looks etc.
I found the sections on technique, and how to slowly change to barefooted running including plenty of preparatory exercises and drills very useful. Overall this is a good read, and will inform you about the development of the modern-day barefoot running movement, as well as showing you how to make the transition as painlessly as possible. Recommended!