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The Barefoot Running Debate: Where I Stand

If you’ve read this blog or my Twitter stream lately, you might be under the impression that I’m a dedicated barefoot runner. Let me be clear and honest at the outset of this post – I have never completed a run completely barefoot (well, maybe when I was a kid, but certainly not in my adult life). Yes, I have done several runs in Vibram Fivefingers, and yes I have put over 200 miles on my Nike Free 3.0’s, but a true barefoot runner I am not. That’s not to say, however, that I am against the idea or would never try it myself – I probably will at some point, maybe after my Fall marathons are done (unless the NH frost has settled in at that point).

My interest in the barefoot running debate comes from two primary sources:

1. I’m a runner, and I prefer to wear lightweight, minimalist running shoes. Last year I bought a pair of Saucony Fastwitch racing shoes, they worked great for me, earned me a few PR’s, and I’ve never looked back. I now rotate running in the Fastwitch’s, Nike Free’s, Nike Lunaracers, and Vibram Fivefingers. All of these weigh substantially less than 10oz each (per foot), and I find going back to a standard trainer (like I occasionally still do with my Saucony Guides) to be something akin to running in boots. However, sometimes the cushioning in the latter does feel good after a hard week of running, and I have no intention of throwing them away.

2. In my professional life I’m and anatomy professor. I teach Human Anatomy and Physiology and Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy at the college level, and as such, any topic bearing on the anatomy of the human body is of interest to me. The fact that this topic unites my professional and personal passions makes it particularly fascinating to me, and I love the fact that it has gotten the running community thinking about both anatomical science and our evolutionary history as a species. Any time that science has a chance to filter into our daily lives, I’ll be right there to support the process.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

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