Barefoot Runners


Barefoot sprinting a good idea? (Read 5642 times)


    Hi all, im new to the forum. I'm a 100-200m sprinter, and have only recently become interested in the concept of barefoot running. I observe that most of the barefoot running people seem to do is long distance. However, would you recommend sprinting barefoot, considering the forces on the foot are pretty huge during phases if a 100m sprint? Do you think its safe?

    I'd like to start training barefoot, if it will improve my efficiency. A typical sprinting spike shoe provides little to no protection, but I'd like to know whether its appropriate to do high intensity interval training, or speed training barefoot.

    Any input on this?


      I wouldn't race barefoot in a sprint because track spikes give way too much of an advantage over non-track spiked feet (shod or unshod.)  So - not sure if I'd bother doing high intensity workouts without the spikes on as that's what you'd be racing in.


      As for some general training and speed work, I wouldn't discourage barefoot training.  Depending upon your level of fitness, you probably don't want to do barefoot speedwork until you've built up enough foot strength. 


      I've just done my first barefoot track workout in at least 10 years this past week, and I only did the first third of the workout barefoot and wore vibrams for the rest.  (It's an old track that was tearing my feet up.)


      I'd focus on building strength first if you are new to barefoot running (I've been trying to build up foot strength specifically for a couple years) and then maybe mix in a little speedwork to see how it feels later.


      For the really dynamic stuff on the track, I'd probably stick to the spikes.  If you are doing striders or sprints on an infield or grassy surface, then barefoot is pretty nice. Big grin


      Run to Win
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      Barefoot and happy

        I wouldn't worry about it being unsafe.  Sprinting barefoot is probably safer than sprinting in spikes.  Spikes allow you to exert more force through your feet than you naturally could.  That's why they give you a speed advantage. 

        But you can't just jump straight into barefoot speedwork.  You have to walk before you can run, and you have to run before you can sprint. 

        If barefoot speedwork "tears your feet up", you're not ready for that intensity yet.
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          I agree that you will probably be fine (albeit slower than if you wore spikes) if you just do some easy running to work up to it. Personally I tried doing strides (about 100m) barefoot two years ago and I ended up with two broken sesamoid bones under my big toes that were pretty painful. So even though I run barefoot sometimes I am very reluctant to throw off the shoes and hammer away doing anything fast. Honestly I wish I had never put shoes on until I was in college.

          MM#209 / JapanJoyful#803

            I'm not a sprinter but often wondered why not much is heard about barefoot sprinting either..


            e.g., without anything between the metatarsals and the surface, it would seem that springing off the metatarals would not only be faster than wearing shoes but that the toes might be well positioned to help provide some extra spring in the push-off too.


            Please don't hurt yourself at those sprinting intensities, but maybe see if it's possible to get comfortable with some barefoot track work and then compare shod/shed sprints on straightaways and then for full circuits.


            good luck. 

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            Professional Antagonist

              For what it's worth, I am slightly faster when sprinting barefoot versus any type of shoe.  I think proprioception (thus form) has something to do with it.  However, I don't do much speed work and tend to focus on long distances.

              Barefoot Running University- Jason's barefoot running site


                I'm 43 year old male - 6'3" and currently weigh 190 (usually about 180 but not training at all in Jan and Feb in Ohio and I like to snack!).

                I absolutely love to sprint barefoot and do short workouts 4-5 times a week April-Oct.  I rarely run distance even though that's cool to do in barefeet also.


                I don't train toward racing - I just love feeling like a kid and, when sprinting at top speed, I imagine that I'm taking down wc sprinters like Bolt and Gay.  Actually, I concentrate quite hard on using optimal mechanics and I think I do a pretty good at this.


                I've had some injuries, but I firmly believe those are due to my terrible flexibility (I'm usually too lazy to work at this) and the fact that I occasionally fail to warm up properly.  I once strained an arch fairly badly, but that was after sprinting at about 85% on a concrete sidewalk with little warm up (I know - dumb as can be).


                I usually sprint on grass, but occasionally run on all-weather track at local hs.  I'm faster on the track but it's not quite as forgiving as grass.


                Have vibrams for colder weather - and I like them (much, much better than joggers), but still not quite the great feeling that bare feet provide.


                Because of my age and poor flexibility, I don't do jackrabbit starts.  I instead do accels - gradually increasing my speed and then putting the hammer down (if my top speed can be described that way!) for 10-40 meters and then coast out over a pretty good distance.


                Sprinting barefoot is cool as heck!  I actually feel that my top end is comparable to when I was a teen.  I'm guessing if I could somehow get a decent start (I never work with blocks and I never accelerate hard at all) that I could run a 12.5 or better 100m.  Yeah, that's laughably slow, but I'm having fun anyway.


                With proper warm up and wise choice of surface (grass seems very good, unless it's been really dry for weeks), barefoot sprinting is safe and probably superior to spikes.  One benefit of bare feet is that the toes are employed as their meant to be. Toes are meant to be an integral part of running, and shoes - even spikes - prevent the toes from doing their intended job.


                I plan to sprint barefoot for the rest of my life.

                Huaraches Maker

                  I'm a Masters sprinter and LOVE the idea of sprinting barefoot, but don't do it for a couple reasons (mentioned above, mostly):


                  1) The good tracks are WAY too rough to sprint on. I was just at the Air Force Academy last week, and you can barely WALK on that track without shoes.


                  2) During the drive phase, being barefoot doesn't give you as much grip as spikes do.


                  3) On turns, the forces on the feet REALLY hurt the skin


                  So, put it together, I'm in spikes.


                  Now the joke is that spikes are a minimalist shoe! Only the sole is stiffer and has spikes compared to any other minimalist shoe.


                  Oh, and since I make huaraches, people ask if I sprint in those... and the answer is still No for the same reasons. The advantage spikes give is too great, especially during those phases of the race when you have lots of horizontal or sideways force.


                  That said, I always warm up and do all my drills in huaraches.




                    Just found this group and thought I'd reply even though I'm a little late. Smile

                    . I don't run often enough barefoot or in my vibrams, but I've had a couple sets of vibrams and run with them here and there. Usually just 6 miles at an easy pace (~8:30ish). The one thing that I absolutely LOVE to do though, especially if I'm feeling sluggish, it to just take of the shoes and do hard 100-200 meter sprints.  I was just puttering around after a run a couple years ago and decided to do some strides. My feet were a little sore so I decided to ditch the shoes and try it on grass.  The grass is deep st. augustine grass here in florida so it's soft enough to just let her rip and not worry about any pounding on the feet. Out of all the different ways I run (deep grass, trail, concrete, easy, moderate, tempo, race, sprints) I have to say that I think I have the best form sprinting in the grass. I get my knees up, my armswing seems higher, I get a great toe off.... Maybe it's just me. either way, it feels very natural and  Anyway, just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in and say hi. Smile

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