Agony of Da Feet (#2867)
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.
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Barefoot and happy
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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.
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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.
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.
. 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. Just.....fly. 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 just..free. Anyway, just thought I'd throw my 2 cents in and say hi.