Barefoot Running Essay

1504 Words Aug 7th, 2010 7 Pages
Footwear, accepted and denied

Running for sport and recreation are perhaps as unique as the enthusiasts who first roused the market. Today, that market (running shoes) is changing. While the 21st century has propelled us into an “age of hyper-engineered performance gear and space-age wicking fabrics;” barefoot running has reinvented the marketplace, while simultaneously inspiring the new generation (Sprinkle 2004).

The idea that running barefoot can be beneficial is a relatively liberal idea in a comparatively conservative culture (today’s running community, particularly with respect to shoes). And, while the majority of research on the evolution of human locomotion has focused primarily on walking, the demand for a new perspective
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Still, provided that “running is generally considered to have played no major role in human evolution”—it’s likely that the shoe industry (in combination with barefoot advocates) will, for some time, continue to influence popular opinion more than concrete, reliable research (Nature 2004).
In an August 2004 issue of Runner’s World magazine, Amby Burfoot quoted England’s Bruce Tulloh: “The only reason that more people don’t run barefoot is that they’re afraid to be unconventional.” Burfoot adds, “Famous runners had gone barefoot before us, of course. In 1960 Ethiopia’s Abebe Bikila, won the first of his consecutive gold medals sans shoes in a world record 2:15:17.” Though Burfoot and Tulloh’s points are relevant, there is a heavy bias that remains, attached to their competitive running accolades. Amby Burfoot was himself a competitive U.S. Marathoner, whose peak years came in the late 60’s and early 70’s when he won the Boston Marathon (1957) and competed twice in the Olympic Marathon (1956, 1960). Likewise, when Bruce Tulloh and Abebe Bikila were breaking European records in the 50’s and 60’s; a greater number of runners were gunning for far lesser 5k and Marathon personal bests. Burfoot and other more renowned high-caliber, well-conditioned athletes are themselves exceptions to fundamental rules that govern mere mortals; And while competitive athletes do play a

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