Saturday, June 19, 2010

Review of "Barefoot Running"

Not to be confused with "The Barefoot Running Book" by Jason Robillard that I reviewed in my last post...this is the new book by Michael Sandler (with Jessica Lee) entitled "Barefoot Running: How to Run Light and Free by Getting in Touch with the Earth."   Jason's book was a quick primer on the subject, this Sandler book is a 298-page tomb designed to be comprehensive and detailed.  It achieves its goal. The book even has a companion web site called "Run Bare."  The book sells for $24.95.  (The web site is free.)  Sandler pulled out all the stops for this book--there is a nice "special greeting" by Barefoot Ted and a forward from Danny Dreyer (ChiRunning guy). It also has a notable set of blurbs on the back cover praising its worth.  So, what do I think of this book?

I throughly enjoyed the book.  It truly is comprehensive in discussing barefoot, and minimalist, running.  Occasionally I rolled my eyes at some of the more spiritual or new-age type of writing, but it held my attention and contained a credible list of references that led the reader to trust the author's words.  Additionally, Michael Sandler has a VERY compelling story about how he overcame a serious, life-threatening, injury and struggled back to health and vitality through barefoot walking and running. The dude now has a titanium hip and femur and still thrives on barefoot running!  I don't have any excuses.  Do you?

The book is divided into 17 chapters in 6 main sections.  The first section, a full 4 chapters, deals with WHY barefoot running can be the best way to run and how to progress in a safe manner.  I really like this background and historical component and feel many people will benefit from it...rather than taking their shoes off and jumping right into barefoot running without a context.  The next section provides the necessary details for actually running barefoot---drills, exercises, metaphors, concepts, tips, beginner schedules--it's all there...including a chapter on nutrition (which I could have done without...but it's OK and fits the "natural running" philosophy espoused in the book).

One of the great things about this book is that after the "WHYs" and "HOWs" we get extra "advanced" chapters on weather, terrain, first aid, and racing.  Plus, two interesting chapters on barefooting for children and the elderly.  The book concludes with a nice overview of minimalist footwear including when and where they may be needed.  With all of this detail, the book is clearly the most comprehensive resource on barefoot running available.  For now...hopefully we'll have even more books in the near future.

Michael Sandler signed my book with the phrase, "Run light and free!" The book delivers on that command.   If you are interested in delving deeply into barefoot running, this should be your go-to book.  If you want to simply dabble in this minimalist trend, Jason's smaller book may be the better entryway.   They are both great books and I'm glad I bought them.  This barefoot thing is very popular lately...and I don't believe it's a passing fad.  Go out and buy one or both of these fine books and FEEL THE DIRT BENEATH YOUR SOLES!

NOTE:  I have no financial interest in either of these books.  I just want to get the word out to fellow "barefooters" about these two good resources for both beginning and advanced runners.


Ian said...

Helped at a 5k/10k race this morning, about 3,000 people and saw one guy running in five finger "shoes" and two running totally barefoot.

Chris said...

You've been doing a lot of volunteering---good for you! The running community needs more people like you. I'm a bit burned out and just concentrating on my running (and World Cup watching)...much of it solo and either barefoot or in my FiveFingers. Cool that a few racers are doing it natural.