Right about now in the barefoot running world, just about every expert is writing books on the topic. I mean, it’s not going to be long before there’s a “barefoot running” aisle rivaling the Cookbook section in every book store. That’s not a bad thing, mind you. If you like to read.
I myself learned to run barefoot by reading books. I read thorough descriptions of how you’re supposed to land and what your posture should look like. I read just about everything there is to know about the history of barefoot running, and about heel striking vs. fore-foot striking vs. mid-foot striking. I know all about persistence hunting, Caballo Blanco and the great Tarahumara. I am well versed in the art of bending my knees, leading with my chest instead of my forehead, not pushing off. So I guess you could say that when it comes to barefoot running, I was pretty darn book-smart even before I took a single barefoot step.
But what about road-smarts? Just because I read a few books and knew what zero-drop meant, did that mean I knew if I was doing anything right when I got out there for a run?
The reality is, we learn by doing, and by watching others do. We learn language by listening, we learn to walk by watching our parents do the same. Barefoot running, for most of us, is a process of learning much like that of a child starting from scratch, because we all spent most of our lives doing it wrong.
Michael Sandler and Jessica Lee of RunBare, a barefoot wellness school that hosts events and clinics all over the country teaching us how to do find our grounding again, wrote a book on the subject back in 2010 called Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth. The book helped to launch their tour and got them onto the map. Coincidentally, their book came out right around the time I started running barefoot, and I found it to be a good source guide for my learning. But again, it was just a book, thus it could only teach me in theory.
Which is probably why Michael and Jessica decided to make a DVD as well.
Released earlier this month, their DVD is aptly named after their book and makes an excellent companion to it. The genre is a smart mix of documentary and teaching tool, aimed at the beginner barefoot runner. In the first sections, both Michael and Jessica talk a little bit about why it’s so important to go barefoot every day in order to get your, as they call it, “Vitamin-G.” A little hokey, sure, but I dug it. They also talk about why they themselves decided to go barefoot and why it’s been such a positive change in their lives. I found this section to be interesting, and I liked hearing Michael’s story in particular.
The whole movie has a serene, yogi-style feel that seems reflective of their personalities. I’ve only ever met Michael once and he seemed like a pretty centered dude who probably spends a lot of time meditating, so it fits. There might be a little too much canned docu-music in there, but I guess you can’t exactly expect high-quality original film scores from a couple of barefoot coaches. If nothing else the bad music was rather entertaining in a cheesy sort of way. There might have been a little head-bopping between Shawn and me. I said might.
The rest of the DVD is divided into different instructional topics aimed at teaching beginner techniques such as foot positioning and posture, core and balance exercises, recovery, et cetera. What I liked about this part is that having a visual representation of the instruction is so much more helpful than reading and trying to retain it for later when you’re trying to run on your own. Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to learn proper technique from a live barefoot coach, so we really have no idea what proper form looks like.
I wouldn’t say there’s a whole lot on this DVD for someone who is already very experienced in barefoot or minimalist running; you’re not going to learn anything new here. But it could be a nice refresher on technique, or a good visual if you’re still not sure if you’re doing it right. Also some of the strengthening exercises that are demonstrated in the video are actually pretty good (despite the fact that at one point, Michael demonstrates a balance exercise standing on a ball, on the edge of a cliff, and I pretty much couldn’t watch). And if nothing else, it’s good to support your fellow barefoot runners trying to make a living from spreading the word. I know we barefooters are a supportive bunch.
If you are ready to learn how to run barefoot, buy someone an awesome Christmas gift, or just to support RunBare and watch their movie, you can purchase a copy online here.
If you want a FREE copy, well then you’re in luck because I’m giving one away today, right here, on my blog! Woohoo!
Entering is simple and just like most of the other blog giveaways you’ve seen. Each of the actions listed below will earn you an entry. Spread the word, readers!
- Write a comment below this blog post, telling me why you love barefoot running (or why you want to learn barefoot running)
- Follow my blog by clicking on the “Sign Me Up” button to the right of this post. If you are already one of my followers, mention is in your comment for an automatic entry.
- Post about this giveaway. Facebook, Twitter, your own blog, anything works.
- Like RunBare on Facebook.
I’ll give this contest about a week, and draw the winner randomly on Friday, October 12th.
Good luck, and Happy Running!
- Proper Running Form (barefoot-monologues.com)