Why I run without shoes

I makes my strides lighter

When I run without shoes, I automatically take lighter strides.

I used to run in super duper high-end running shoes, but all that cushioning had an impact on my running style. With the running shoes on, taking heavy strides felt good – in the moment – and I didn’t realise that this unnatural way of running was actually injuring me.

Before, I thought I could fix problems such as knee cap pain by simply getting better and better running shoes, and swapping out old shoes for new ones more frequently.

Without running shoes on, I have gone back to a more natural stride; I run the way people ran before the invention of modern cushioning shoes.

It gives me a more natural landing

When I ran in running shoes, I landed hard, with the heel first. If you try to run like this without cushioning shoes on, you will probably stop trying really quickly because it hurts.

Landing hard with the heel first is not how we humans are evolved to run. Our feet, ankles knees, legs and hips are in no way ideal for absorbing the shock of a hard heel strike. With cushioning shoes on, it doesn’t hurt in the moment, but it is still taking a toll on the body. Also, with running shoes on, we tend to shift our weight down to the ankles, increasing the risk of ankle sprain.

When I run without cushioning shoes, I land on the front or middle of the foot.

It makes me more mindful

This might sound saccharine, but I really enjoy the connection to the ground that I get when walking and running barefoot. Running without protective shoes also makes me more mindful about the running itself. I am more present in the moment, simply because I need to.

When I first started running barefoot, it felt strange. I got a myriad of tiny skin scrapes, and also some blistering at the front of the foot. I learned that I had to accustom my body gradually to this new habit.

It strengthens my feet

If you wore a cast on your arm every time you used it, you would soon have a pretty weak arm that wouldn’t hold up well to stress. But for some reason, we see it as absolutely essential to wear cushioning and supporting running shoes when we run.

Without the running shoes, my feet and ankles have developed new strengths and a higher resilience. The key is to let the process take time – don’t overdo it at the start. Building strength takes time.

This isn’t just about muscle strength – running barefoot will also improve your skin, tendons, ligaments, etc.

It saves money

A pair of high-quality running shoes can set you back quite a bit, and if you are an avid runner, you will wear them out pretty soon.

It makes me nostalgic

For me, walking and running barefoot fills me with this awesome sense of nostalgia. As a kid, I would spend the summers rambling around barefoot. Forcing my feet back into socks and shoes for school each fall always felt awkward.