Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Review - Barefoot Running by Michael Sandler

Let me start out by saying that I'm not someone who needed a lot of convincing about the benefits of barefoot running. From an evolutionary perspective it makes perfect sense that we should be able to run barefoot very well. Unfortunately modern living has made us soft and weak, and makes it difficult for most of us to do things that should be natural and easy.

A lot of people, who have spent all of their lives in shoes, commonly come to believe that wearing shoes is natural and going barefoot is unnatural. Many of those people are even openly hostile to the idea that shoes aren't more natural than going barefoot. I think this book does an excellent job of explaining away these common misconceptions.

As for practical application, there are a lot of mistakes people new to barefoot running can make, and this book does a great job of setting reasonable expectations and guiding the reader from the point where barefoot running hurts to the point where it is second nature. It's filled with a lot of really good information on how to start barefoot running, and how to run barefoot safely, the kind of information that could only have been acquired from years experience.

I do have a few minor quibbles with this book. First, I think the discussion of running technique was inadequate. If I did not already know Pose Running Technique, I don't think this book would have been enough for me to get started.

Second, the discussion of cross-training was good, but it was very generic, and about 15 or 20 years behind the curve. It's probably adequate; given the target audience, but if you are really interested in developing general fitness. look into CrossFit, or something similar.

Third, the discussion on nutrition was very good, but the reader might leave this book thinking that vegan or vegetarian diets are healthy. This is something that from an evolutionary and physiological perspective does not add up. If the reader is serious about improving his or her diet, I would suggest reading up on the Paleolithic Diet.

Despite not being perfect, I highly recommend this book for anyone considering barefoot running. If the reader is also interested in cross-training and diet, I would also suggest some supplementary reading. If the reader needs more information on technique, then this blog is a good place to start.

Book Link: 

Supplementary Reading:

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