See, Barefoot Running is NOT Bad for You

The media is an interesting thing.

One day, they love you, the next day they hate you. As long as there’s controversy, they’re interested… ish.

The last time barefoot running made all the news it was when the University of Colorado study (done right up the hill from me) apparently showed that barefoot running was less efficient than running in shoes (see my analysis of that study here). In fact, when that study got published, the media went crazy, practically insisting that this was the death knell for those of us who run unshod.

So, I’m not sure what it means that they’ve basically ignored a new study from Northumbria University that shows the exact opposite!

Why are there no crazed headlines about how running without shoes really IS the greatest thing since bread, the slicer, and the sliced bread that comes from intelligently combining the two?

Who knows. Who cares.

More importantly, check out the info about the study here at

In short, if you want the synopsis: Runners used 6% more energy when they wore shoes. Here’s the line I like:

The results suggest that, by ditching their trainers, athletes new to barefoot running adopt a running style similar to experienced barefoot runners and enjoy an immediate and likely beneficial increase in running economy.

Works for me (in fact it DID work for me!)

  • JC

    I’m still at an utter loss as to why people are focussing on “running economy”, as if that changes the running experience, especially at these tiny percents which surely are not within statistical error (if they even bother to calculate that). I couldn’t care less how “efficient” I am when I’m running — if I wanted to move efficiently I’d get in my car — I want to know if I feel good, am I making my body healthy, and am I doing harm to my joints. These tiny differences in efficiency are of no consequence to people running for health.

  • Randy Kreill., Beavercreek OH

    6% more efficient is interesting to me. Seems significant enough and not what traditional running shoe companies want people to see. Huarache running, mostly in a worn down pair of 4mm is close enough to pure barefoot running for me. Personally I’m more interested in replicating a bit of what the Tarahumaran runners do, but the pure barefoot guys are amazing. I ran with a local guy recently who only runs completely barefoot and has for 7 years. He’s creator of Dayton Barefoot Runners on Facebook. He was running over quite a bit of rough gravel on the trails I led him thru, not to mention the rough blacktop where he didn’t even flinch.

    I think Doug’ll enjoy the link to the study you’ve noted above. I’m more of a “anything worth doing is worth doing less than perfectly” type thinker.

    Happy Trails!

  • Randy, you make me blush 🙂

  • Oh, and by the way, a 6 % improvement in efficiency means that I’d be running about 30 seconds slower per mile at my personal best half marathon pace of 7:22. I’ll take it 🙂

  • With shoes that is