Running footwear expert teaches how to run barefoot in shoes.
The term “natural running” has emerged lately to refer to the way people run when they run barefoot. The difference between barefoot and natural running is that the latter is not necessarily done barefoot. It is the barefoot running style, performed either with or without shoes.
Natural running in shoes represents a “best of both worlds scenario” for runners. On the one hand, it is widely acknowledged that common errors in running form, such as overstriding, disappear when shoes are removed. On the other hand, as Newton Running founder Danny Abshire writes in his new book, Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running, “Running barefoot for several miles on a paved road or concrete sidewalks sounds terribly painful, not to mention impractical and even dangerous.”
Coauthored with veteran running journalist Brian Metzler, Natural Running teaches runners of all levels how to eliminate problems such as overstriding without becoming barefoot runners (although Abshire does condone small amounts of barefoot running on appropriate surfaces).
One of the virtues of Natural Running is the education on running biomechanics that it provides. A comprehensive, understandable overview of this topic has been badly needed since the barefoot running trend began with the publication of Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run in the spring of 2009. Abshire covers everything from the structure of the foot to individual gait assessment.
The lessons culminate in an eight-week natural running transition plan. The plan prescribes very small amounts of running initially to ensure that each stride is done correctly and that the body has time to adjust to the stress of moving in a new way. The increasing volume of slow running is supplemented, and correct form is reinforced, with technique drills. There remains much disagreement about the ultimate trainability of the stride and the benefits of changing one’s running form, but if you’re going to try it, Danny Abshire’s program is the way to do it.