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What is Barefoot Running?

Barefoot running, as the name implies, is having a run without wearing any kind of footwear. Running without shoes has been prevalent since the days of our forefathers, and the people of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico still practice this tradition until today. This kind of running was not popular until the later years of the 20th century, when famous Olympians like Abebe Bikila, Bruce Tulloh, and Zola Budd competed while running without shoes. Some who agree to this method say running barefoot is a more efficient way to count off the calories; though no scientific studies have been done yet to prove this point. They also stress the fact that although running with shoes could protect you from the harsh weather, running barefoot could also cut your chances of having chronic injuries brought about by the tension of our heels against the soft cushion of our running shoes.

However, several companies in the shoe-making industry have provided us with shoes which give the “feel” of running barefoot. Some conventional shoes, like the moccasins and the huaraches, have thin soles as compared to the thick linings in standard running shoes. Modern brands, such as Merell and Vivobarefoot, also offer shoes with thin soles to keep up with the trend.


Aside from the Tarahumara people in Mexico, this tradition of barefoot running also takes place in Kenya. Studies suggest that Greek runners joined competitions not wearing any kind of equipment to protect the feet; thus, the term barefoot running. Pheidippides, the first-known runner, is believed to have run from Athens to Sparta in no more than 36 hours— again, barefoot. When they won the Battle of Marathon, historians believe that he ran back to Athens to announce their triumph against Persia.

Running barefoot only gained popularity in this modern era in 1960, when Olympic runner Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia chose to run barefoot in the Olympic marathon held in Rome. This was after he found out that Adidas, the official shoe supplier that time, fell short of shoes that were in his size. If ever he received some shoes, they were too small for his size so he just decided to run barefoot.

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