Sept. 5, 2011
By Darren Richardson, C.M.T.
As recently as three years ago, runners and would-be runners searching for a book on barefoot running wouldn’t have had much luck. But thanks to the publication of Christopher McDougall’s best-selling “Born to Run” in the spring of 2009, the dynamics of the search have changed. “Where do I find a book on barefoot running?” is no longer the operative question; “Which book on barefoot running should I buy?" has taken its place.”
McDougall’s book only directly dealt with barefoot running in one chapter, but it was enough to awaken international interest in the topic. As the fall of 2011 approaches, at least five books have been published in the past two years on the topic of running without shoes. Each of the barefoot running books has its own merits, but Ashish Mukharji’s “Run Barefoot Run Healthy” (2011 Heterodox Press) stands out for one important reason: It is succinct.
n 2007, after running nearly two decades in the best shoes money could buy and suffering a constant stream of injuries while wearing them, Mukharji turned to what he calls “the natural miracle of barefoot running” Once you’ve read his 188-page book, packed with important information through and through, you will understand why he uses the word “miracle” the way he does.
If you are just starting out as a barefoot runner, or are simply curious about why anyone would even want to think about running barefoot, this is the book for you. Well-written, well-organized and well-packaged with original art and an easy-to-read Question-and-Answer format, Mukharji gets the point on every page.
With a foreword by Zola Budd of South Africa, who ran barefoot in the 1984 Olympics for England and set a world record running without shoes in the 5000 meters in 1985, the book gets off on the right foot with a ringing endorsement by one of the most famous barefoot runners of all time. And thanks to Mukharji’s focus and pacing, the book stays on track from start to finish.
One thing he makes clear early on is that “barefoot running” means exactly that – running skin-to-ground. In case the shoe companies’ use of the word “barefoot” as a marketing term for shoes has confused some readers, an illustration clearly labels the difference between “barefoot” and “not barefoot.” The drawing with the caption “barefoot” depicts a bare foot. There are two drawings with the caption “not barefoot.” One depicts a foot shod with a minimalist shoe featuring individualized toes, the other depicts a foot shod in a conventional running shoe.
Mukharji goes on to explain why the distinction is important, even when it comes to shoes developed to follow on the heels of the barefoot running trend: “Modern shoes attempt to change or even replace the function of the foot. Unsurprisingly, they fail.”
Whether you want to run competitively, recreationally or just want to know the hows and whys of barefoot running, “Run Barefoot, Run Healthy” can help you get to where you want to be.
Darren Richardson, C.M.T. and professional foot reflexologist in Berkeley, Calif., has been running an average of 25-30 barefoot miles a month since late 2008. He led a walking workshop on “Barefoot Energetics” at the annual Reflexology New Zealand conference in May of 2011. A download of the 28-page magazine he wrote for the conference can be purchased for $3 at Magcloud.com.