Barefoot Running by Micheal Sandler - The Review

The latest informational addition to the hottest running craze these days is Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth, by Michael Sandler. I guess you could call it a book, but it is more an essay that should have been titled, “In Defense of Running Barefoot.” If you are on the fence about if you should try running barefoot, this book will blast you with reason after reason for almost 300 pages on why running with shoes is pure evil. It also shows you how to navigate every problem you might encounter as you start running barefoot. This is by far the most comprehensive guide to running without shoes out there.

Sandler will smack you over the head with how great barefoot running is over and over again. The first 37 pages are dedicated to convincing you that running barefoot will not help you as far as running is concerned, but it will also save your life and in turn save the world!!! I’m going a bit far with that last statement, but here is a quote from Sandler that pretty much sums up his views.

“…barefoot running is low-impact, toe-centric, promotes good form, enhances stability and adaptability, strengthens your feet in miraculous ways, and provides delightful sensory and spiritual connections to the earth.”

WARNING! Don’t look to this book as a meticulous training plan on how to work your way into barefoot running, because the author, Michael Sandler, is so sure that if you listen to your feet, you will be able to judge how you should work your way into barefoot running. Here is a summary of his training plan. Run barefoot on pavement until your feet hurt. Wait to run barefoot again until your feet and legs feel strong enough again. Stay with this cycle until you are able to run barefoot everyday for miles. He says the process takes at least three months and up to six months.

There is a loose 12-week plan to help you get started on your journey. Sandler warns you that this is a guide and you should really listen to your body because everyone progresses at a different rate. The 12-week guide is broken up into five different steps (pun intended).

I’m not a patient man, so I wanted some kind of day by day schedule to help me judge if I am doing well or not as I transition to barefoot running. This is not how Sandler suggests to get started for running without shoes. Just to see if what he says is true, I have gone running barefoot on pavement a few times. He is dead right! You’re feet will start to hurt and then it is time to stop. The next day, your feet and lower legs will be sore. Wait until they have recovered and then head out for a run again. The next time you will be able to go a bit further. Repeat this process, and be diligent in your training.

There is great beauty in this training approach. Let’s say you are out of shape. It is also a way for you to get into shape with your feet as a guide. As your feet and legs get tougher and stronger, you too will also be getting more and more aerobically fit.

Included in the book is much more to this book than how Sandler feels about running barefoot. He goes into great detail on every aspect of running. I don’t want to give too much away, but I do want you to see what this book has to offer besides the simple statement, go run without shoes.

  • Sandler was in a terrible accident and was told he could never run again. Running barefoot was the only way he was able to overcome his injuries.
  • You have to start running slow, an eventually you will be able to run quite fast barefoot. Sandler points out (on several occasions) that he routinely passes bikers as he runs up hills.
  • A step-by-step guide on improving running form with an intense focus on how you need to have your feet strike the ground.
  • Exercises to strengthen the muscles in your feet and lower legs, along with several maintenance tips for your feet.
  • A section on proper diet.
  • Tips on going bare on different terrain. Also, how you should handle different weather conditions including when it is freezing cold.
  • Why children should be barefoot, and why seniors should be barefoot.
  • How to incorporate minimalist shoes if barefoot running doesn’t work for you in certain situations.
Be ready for a barefoot assault. I just want you to know exactly what you will be getting when you purchase this book. It is all about running barefoot from start to finish. Every part of the book is dedicated to convincing you that running barefoot is the best possible thing for you, no matter what level of runner you are, or what your goals are for running in the future. It also is a great teaching tool for barefoot technique and leaves no issue uncovered.

Running barefoot, or “Awarefoot” as Michael Sandler calls it is a great thing to try. I am not patient enough to go totally ditch my running shoes. If I lived next to a golf course and they would let me run up and down the fairways every morning, I would be sold on barefoot running. There really isn’t any better feeling that running bare on a nice surface. I just haven’t had that many problems with foot injuries to convince me to totally ditch the shoes. If you are open minded, and want to give running without shoes a try, Michael Sandler’s Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth is a great place to start.

Reviewed by David Tiefenthaler

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- Born to Run
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- Barefoot Running Sandals made by Dr. Les Waddel
- Minimalist Running Shoes


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