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VINE VOICEon 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!
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My favourite time of day is my early morning runs along the coast but like the majority of runners, I'm regularly plagued by injuries which have prevented me from going out for weeks at a time. This has ultimately made it difficult to get into a regular routine & has made we wonder how in the long-term I could continue doing the sport I love the most without causing myself some serious problems. So when somebody mentioned the seminal Born to Run & how it touches upon barefoot running & its unparalleled effectiveness for keeping people injury-free, I was instantly intrigued. It totally turned my preconceptions on their head - for instance, did you know that the more expensive the running shoe, the more likely it is to injure you? And that running-related injuries have not decreased in the last 30 years, despite all the advances in technology by Nike & their rivals? But when you think about it, it makes sense - after all, our ancestors would run barefoot for hours, literally chasing animals on the savannahs until their prey collapsed from exhaustion.

However, this is an area where just a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I read Born to Run before this book came out & was impatient to get started, so armed myself with a bit of advice from a few random websites. While I utterly enjoyed the tactile sensations of my first barefoot run, afterwards my tendons were so sore due to bad technique that I had to rest them for about 10 days. Thus I discovered the hard way that you really do need to build up slowly & learn the correct skills. And as this book has been written by one of the barefoot movements' pioneers, it's the perfect introduction.

This is a very informative guide, crammed with advice that has been tried & tested since the late 1980's. There's also lots of testimonies from different runners, not just the authors themselves. Ken Bob can ramble somewhat when he starts on his anecdotes, bless him, but these tend to be kept separate from the actual pages on technique, so can be skimmed over if desired (although they are rather charming). This makes it easy to pick up & get what you want from it.

While the advice is practical, the authors are also keen to emphasise the importance of fun. Not only does enjoying your runs keep you coming back for more, they say, but it also helps to keep you relaxed (particularly your calves) & thus capable of absorbing more impact. As most of their tips focus on good posture & relaxation, they remind me in essence of the Alexander Technique.

This book has enabled me to figure out what was causing the tendon issue & adjust my technique accordingly (I was arching my feet to avoid heel-striking & landing too heavily on the ball of the foot, so now I'm letting them fall straighter & more naturally, although still front-first). It has also added an incredibly enjoyable dimension to my running. Even running on pavements has become an incredibly tactile experience & no, so far I've never stood on any broken glass or dog muck - or even seen any on the roads I run on. If you want to run barefoot, then I believe this book is a necessity, being much more practical than its competitors.
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on 12 October 2012
After reading Born to Run, I tried do the barefoot gait with my Asics 2110. Big mistake. Achilles tendonitis followed.

I then read a lot of reviews and stories on benefits of transition (I was too chicken to go anything less) shoes. So I bought a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence. Big mistake number 2. After a month of running in them. Things got progressively worse. Next was the doctor who prescribed some serious anti-inframmatories coupled with 10 days to rest. After the medicines wearing off and two weeks of rest, things were as painful as before.

Frustrated I decided to go "more barefoot" with Vivobarefoot Ultras. No help. Then I read this book and kicked my shoes off. Four weeks later, Achilles tendonitis gone!

If you want to have healthy feet, read this book, and follow Ken Bob's advice of listening to your body and taking it easy. There is only one way to do bare footing. By going barefoot. Having lived in conditions where bare footing is not always a practical option, it is a good idea to do it when you can to kill bad habits that come from being shod.

Now I mix between full bare footing (when my wife is not looking) and Vivobarefoots. Happy running.
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on 12 October 2011
This is a great book if you have got the nerve and time to practice it, I have suffered with plantar and shin splint injuries for a nmber of years and actually feel more comfortable walking around the house in barefeet , however it is different kettle of fish outdoors . The theory I believe is correct and I am sure is the way forward for walking and running, if you can suffer strange looks and the odd laugh whilst practicing the methods in this book, then you will reap the rewards long term, and save money on footwear !
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on 18 September 2014
I'm really keen on sports and fitness, I also have really bad joints...my knees in particular. So always on the look out for information and other peoples views. This book isn't going to change the world but it might help you think differently about how you run. And anything that makes you think can only be a good thing. I found it easy and enjoyable to read, very anecdotal which is fine. It also got me curious about barefoot running and I must confess I did go out and try it. It was very liberating, even-though it got me some funny looks....it was winter, wet, cold, and I was down the sea front running though puddles (quite fun actually). What it did do for me in the longer term was to allow me to address my running style and look for things that could be causing me issues. I run a lot more now, with much less pain in my knees (but I would be lying if I said no pain at all).
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on 25 October 2013
Bought this having read and loved 'Born To Run' by Christopher McDougall. I'm not a runner and never have been, but now I'm curious and gonna give it a shot for the first time (and I'm 41!). This book is very user friendly, lots of great photos, and Barefoot Bob comes across like a great character, someone you'd love to have a pint with. He's great company, really knows his stuff, passionate about his subject, and never takes himself too seriously. A great book and it has motivated me to get off my bike and give running a try.
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on 20 July 2012
I have really started to run some of my miles barefoot and even followed the advice of not running too much too fast and so forth.

Barefoot Running Step by Step isn't really a book that tells you how to run barefoot it's more about the journey of how Barefoot Ken Bob ended up running barefoot and why. A smaller part of the book is actually concerned about how to start barefoot running, stay healthy while doing it and general training advice. So this is only a 3 start book, because it is not one of those greatly inspirational sports books nor a proper training guide.
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on 22 May 2015
Not overly impressed, perhaps I need to re-read this as the lessons I took away are pretty simple to work out yourself, I must be missing something.

It seemed to me that the majority of the book was basically telling the reader how great barefoot running is and why, lots of repetition of the same sentiment throughout, too much attention to giving examples and repeating reasoning rather than actual mechanics and helpful training tips.

Investigate online for free first would be my recommendation
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on 30 September 2011
Well the book is fine and it will teach you the basics. But out of the 239 pages only half of them are really relevant (read, running tecnique). The rest is unnessesary filling trying to support the claim that barefoot running is the best way to run - something you'll be able to decide for yourself by trying it. I for one like to feel for myself not be told so for me the book just has an unnessesary amount of focus on proving it's point rather than describing how to get there.
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on 17 May 2013
I heard about barefoot running and wanted to start, but rather than just dive in, I wanted to understand the principles and find someone that could give some tips and pointers.

So glad I did a quick google search that brought me to this book.

Fantastic book with funny and clearly written instructions and anecdotes that give very clear ideas and drills to practise finding and FEELING the proper posture, technique and process.

I've actually always HATED running and preferred cycling. In one aspect I was delighted to read how much emphasis he places on cycling being a great way to TEACH your legs and posture, and the other aspect is that running in this RIGHT way for our feet and bodies has made the process of running an absolute joy, and nothing like the 'task' or challenge I'd felt it was in the past.
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