Barefooting the Peachtree? Read this first.

Published: 2011-06-29 10:40:25
Author: Michelle Hiskey

  Should I run The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Peachtree Road Race on Monday in toe (minimalist) shoes? What about barefoot? Here’s some advice:

Toe/minimalist shoes

-- Don’t try to break in a new pair in a race of any length. Jim Harmon’s longest run was five miles before he ran 6.2 miles in toe shoes in a race. “For weeks after I did that, my calves were on fire,” he said. “Don’t go too far too fast too soon.”

-- Be prepared to run more lightly. “If you plod in these shoes, it will hurt,” said Dr. Perry Julien, a podiatrist. “Consider short distance for these and longer distance with your stability shoes.”

-- Ignore peer pressure. “If these shoes don’t work for you, don’t wear them,” Julien said.

Barefoot running

-- Before shedding shoes, “diabetics and people with osteoporosis and other circulation problems should check with a doctor first,” Tamara Gerken said.

-- Start by running a block, then build up by quarter miles. “Your feet will tell you quickly if you’re losing form or getting sloppy,” Gerken said. “Increasing by ten percent per week works well.”

-- Observe your feet. “Wearing and blistering of your feet are telltale signs of your need to adapt,” Gerken said.

-- Start on a flat, but firm, surface — not grass or sand. “You don’t know if there is a hole or sharp object,” Gerken said. “You can’t learn a lesson when the answer changes with every footfall, so stick with harder, flat surfaces for relearning how to run barefoot.”