Ten Weeks to Bare Feet in Memphis

Posted on March 1, 2014


By Katelyn Sanchez and Katie Keller


As spring approaches, many more people are inclined to workout in the fresh air. Fresh air and being outside is important for those that are trying to lead a healthy life and is always better for one’s body. It’s better to talk a walk or run your daily 5k run around your city rather than on a treadmill in your local gym.

Memphis has spectacular places to run whether it be by the Memphis Zoo at Overton Park, or Shelby Farms. For a complete list of parks around Memphis be sure to check out the City of Memphis list of all parks around the city: http://www.memphistn.gov/Government/ParksNeighborhoods/Parks.aspx.

A popular trend in the running community that encourages outside running is barefoot running. It is a different and interesting way to start getting fit and becoming a runner. Research shows that it is even beneficial to your joints and muscles in the long run. Here is a barefoot running program we like to call: Ten Weeks to Bare Feet. These guidelines, if followed correctly, should aid any runner who wants to begin the barefoot running process. Barefoot running has shown to be better for a runner in the long run to maximize their running potential because it promotes the most natural and correct way to run.

Run your normal mileage with your shoes on. Usually if you are training for a race, you would have an alternating workout week with one day where you run easy or steady, and the next some sort of interval workout. After the run, walk for ten minutes barefoot in grass to get your foot used to the feeling of being barefoot.

Repeat the steps of week one, but instead of walking ten minutes everyday barefoot, try to walk closer to your goal time and distance if you are training for. So, if my goal were to run under twenty minutes for a 5K, I would walk for twenty minutes barefoot in grass. This action will get the foot used to the amount of time it will be functioning barefoot, but without the greater forces from the ground.

Run your normal workouts with shoes but when you go out to do your slower, for a more relaxed cool down you should take your shoes off. Do this every other day.

Repeat the steps of week three, but conduct all cool downs barefoot. This is the first week that you should be running barefoot every day. The runs should still be on a softer surface.

Continue to do all of the your cool downs barefoot. But, in addition to the cool down, run one fourth of a mile (400 meters) barefoot every other day. This can be on a harder surface such as a track or the pavement. The pace should be faster than the pace for a distance run, but not full speed. This will adapt the foot and get it used to higher speeds barefoot.

Repeat steps of week five, but instead of running 400 meters, run one half of a mile (800 meters) barefoot every other day. This gradual increase of barefoot mileage is preparing the muscles in the leg and foot to begin running full workouts barefoot.

In addition to daily barefoot, run the interval workout barefoot on interval days. This will increase the forces that the bare foot receives, but will only gradually increase the mileage in intervals. On these days the intervals may be anywhere from 400 meter to 1600 meter repeats. If any blistering or discomfort occurs, return to wearing shoes for the remainder of the workout.

Continue with barefoot cool downs. This week, complete your interval workouts with shoes. This week the barefoot mileage will increase. Complete 1-3 longer or steady runs barefoot. Complete what feels comfortable. These can either be on grass, or pavement. If the muscles in the leg and foot feel stiff, just complete the one distance run. This distance run should be anywhere from three to six miles.

Now that interval and distance workouts have been completed barefoot, the foot can recognize the way it needs to run and is developing correctly. This week is up to the runner’s digression. The runner can choose which workouts to complete barefoot. Whether it is interval or distance, alternate days in which the workout is completed barefoot. Along with the barefoot workout and cool down, this week more strengthening will be added. Barefoot plyometric exercises should be added before the workout is conducted. These should be done everyday and include exercises such as: in place static jumps, one footed traveling jumps for 20 meters, double leg traveling jumps for 20 meters, 100 meter strides, and 100 “Up’s”. 100 Up’s start with the bare foot flat on the ground and then gradually lift up onto the forefoot. This would result in fifty on each foot.

By this week the feet and legs should be prepared to do full workouts, everyday, barefoot. This does not mean that you are required to run every workout barefoot, but it is shown that runners who do will acquire fewer injuries. Be sure to be aware of the surfaces you run on. Be careful of foot placement so sharp objects on the ground do not penetrate the foot. If available, it is better to run on grass so that the surface is not as hard. Best of luck in your journey in going bare!

Katelyn and Katie hail from Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and are both freshmen at Rhodes College. You can contact Katelyn at sankb-17@rhodes.edu and Katie at kelkt-17@rhodes.edu.

Posted in: Health