World Class Runner Vows to Never Run Barefoot Again

Top runners consider running shoes to be their best friendsBernard Lagat is a 13-time world running medalist; he has five Olympic gold medals under his belt. Born in Kenya, but now a resident of the United States, Lagat has set running records representing both countries. With one small difference.

In Kenya, Lagat often ran barefoot; in the U.S., he says, it’s a whole different story. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Lagat revealed, “Since I came to the developed world I’ve never run barefoot and I always say there’s no way on earth I am ever going to run barefoot. I did a good 15 years or so of barefoot running, walking. Now I see the shoes and I’m like, “That’s my best friend for life!” Never since I crossed the big pond! My shoes will always be on my feet for ever.”

Whenever the topic of barefoot running comes up, things start to get heated: many people believe it is the most natural way to run and the best choice if you hope to avoid injuries. Still others consider it to be a terrible idea—after all, sneakers are designed to absorb some of the impact the ground has on your feet. If you forego shoes, that impact will likely increase!

Then there’s the retail trends to follow—while minimalist shoe Vibram Five Fingers over-stated the benefits of their product, forcing them to pay a legal settlement, maximalist shoes (with extra thick heels for shock absorption) are becoming ever-more-popular in the world of running.

As a Houston podiatrist, I can’t state that one single running style is absolutely right or safe for every individual. What I can express, however, is how crucial it is to listen to your body. If something hurts you when you run (especially if the pain doesn’t stop after your workout is complete) it means something is probably wrong. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Andrew Schneider for a comprehensive exam before you even consider hitting the trails (or treadmill) again.