I was recently sent a review copy of Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton's Barefoot Running Step by Step, which was perfect timing as I embarked on the voyage of discovery into the world of barefoot running. If you remember, about a month ago I decided to make a Barefoot Running Attempt, spurred on by a basic 12-week plan in Michael Sandler's book Barefoot Running. Over the last 3 weeks it's been pretty hit or miss, as longtime readers know, but I'm still interested.
"BAREFOOT RUNNING STEP BY STEP (Fair Winds Press, May 2011) separates the facts from the hype covering the latest research and running techniques behind the barefoot running movement. Co-written by running journalist Roy Wallack this guide outlines proper techniques for running barefoot properly and incorporating the practice into your running regimen for a better stride, longer endurance, and fewer injuries.
Whether you’re a beginner, run barefoot occasionally, part-time, or full-time, you'll find methods for improving your form, staying injury-free, dramatically improving your speed and performance, and having more fun."
Overall, I'd say this is one of the best barefoot running books out there, especially for a beginner like myself. While there is a certain amount of zeal, it is tempered by both common sense and a desire for people to enter barefooting correctly, with full knowledge.
Barefoot Ken Bob is not a fan of minimalist shoes, as he feels that they are more likely to lead to injury, due to not being able to feel the surface beneath your foot. He also advocates starting barefoot running by finding the sharpest, most painful gravel you can, which makes you relax, bend your knees, and take things slowly. While I see the benefit of his suggestion, I started out on sidewalks, feeling that it would give me enough feedback to improve my barefoot form without being overly cushioned like grass or dirt, where one can get away with a sloppier form.
It's not just us humans that can benefit from barefooting it. Apparently the Houston police department has started removing the shoes from their horses, leading to healthier and happier horses. Kind of cool.
One thing I appreciated about this book was that, while he personally espouses 100% barefoot running for himself, Barefoot Ken bob understands that not everybody wants to commit so fully. While he suggests running barefoot as much as possible, he also acknowledges that even as little as 25% of the overall training will be enough to benefit from barefooting. Transferring the barefoot running form to running is possible, as long as you occasionally refresh and revisit your barefoot technique.
If you never read this book, I would suggest you remember two things about barefooting:
- Bend your knees. Then bend them some more.
- Lift your feet rather than pushing off. If you're not interested in barefooting, you can get the same feeling by running hill intervals.
I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is thinking of getting into any amount of barefooting. It is full of useful information, some great training tips, but most of all, it is not a one-size-fits-all bible, as Barefoot Ken Bob realizes that the approach to barefooting varies from runner to runner.
Do you have questions for Barefoot Ken Bob? Leave them in the comments, perhaps he'll stop back by and answer them for us!
Want to buy the book? Get it over at Amazon.com!
You can read more from Barefoot Ken Bob or befriend him on Facebook.
Disclaimer: This product was sent to me for review purposes, courtesy of Dalyn Miller Public Relations LLC. I was not compensated in any other way for the review, was not obligated to give it a positive review, and all opinions are my own. Some information in this review was taken from the company website or PR materials.
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