Can You Run A Marathon In Barefoot Shoes?
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So you’ve made the move to barefoot running, and you are now comfortable with your shoe of choice. Running the odd 5k for charity and the occasional iron man no longer has the same feel to it. Or it’s on your bucket list of things to do. The next phase of your barefoot adventure is to explore the possibility of running a full-blown marathon in barefoot shoes. Can it be done?
Can You Run A Marathon In Barefoot Shoes? You can run a marathon in barefoot shoes yes. There are no rule restrictions, and it is often done. You will need to prepare properly for the event. Give yourself enough time to get ready. Get good at the shorter distances first; soon, you’ll be able to run a full marathon in barefoot shoes.
To do this, there are a few things you need to know about to get you ready for your big day. I have laid all the step you will need to get you sorted.
All About Marathons (A Brief History)
In popular history, Pheidippedies is noted as the first marathoner. As a way to pay homage to his legendary running feats, we have what is today the modern Marathon. Pheidippedies was an ancient Greek messenger who raced from the site of Marathon to Athens, a distance of about 40 kilometres, or approximately 25 miles. He was carrying the news of the Greek victory over the invading army of Persia in 490 B.C.
As soon as he delivered his message he collapsed exhausted and died. In memory of his fabled run, the distance he ran was used as the marker for the modern day Olympics first held in 1896.
The marathon may have ancient roots, but the foot race’s official length of 26.2 miles wasn’t established until the 20th century. The first organised marathon was held in Athens at the 1896 Olympics, the start of the Games’ modern era. The ancient games, which took place in Greece from around 776 B.C. to A.D. 393, never included such long-distance races.
The Modern-day Marathon Explained
In more recent times following the re-establishment of the Olympics in 1896 of the marathon is now the longest long-distance race in the Olympic programme. The marathon covers 26 miles 385 yards (42.195km). It is classified as a road race and is one of the highlights of most major athletic events, taking place on the last day and finishing inside the main stadium.
The current marathon distance of 26 miles 385 yards to the imperial measurement of 26miles at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, and bumped up another 385 yards when the starting line was pulled back so it could be seen by the kids in the Royal Nursery at Windsor Castle and still finish in front of Queen Alexandra in London.
The Marathon distance was standardised to 26 miles 385 yards (42.195km) in 1921 and remains the same to this day.
Thinking Of Running A Marathon Barefoot?
Heres a list of all the things you will need to get you sorted first:
- Master the basics of Barefoot running
- Excel at a 1k run
- Now Run some 5k runs
- Try a half marathon
- Test out all of your gear try everything
- Attempt your first Barefoot Marathon
1. Master the basics of barefoot training
If you have never run barefoot before then, you must get this squared away as part of your preparation I have a couple of articles for the Beginner Barefoot Runner and the Advanced Barefoot Runner. These will set you up nicely and get you sorted with the basics. However the long and short of it is that you get to grips with the key elements as a starting point.
In the days when I used to do my training in traditional shoes, it was never something to pay much attending to at all. You just go up and went for a run or trained. Now that you are training and running Barefoot ( or at least considering it) there is a lot of new things to think about. Your entire movement biomechanics will need to be rethought and re-engineered till it becomes second nature.
These will include:
- Your Gait- How do you run? Do you heel strike or forefoot strike?
- Your Posture – Are you upright just enough to be efficient?
- You endurance – How often have you practised and drilled to make it second nature
I know I am emphasising this, but it is really important, the two articles I mentioned will get you on track quickly.
2. Excel At A 1K Run
This is the next step in the journey. Get to the point where running 1k is a warm-up exercise for you in barefoot shoes. In your build up to the marathon always remember the number one mantra of taking it in baby steps and be patient. Listen to your body and pay attention to any pain you may experience.
3. Now Run Some 5k Runs
This is a good point to seriously consider joining a running club or getting a fellow barefoot or minimalist shoe runners to run with you. It will do loads for your confidence and makes all the work a lot more fun.
There are lots of charity event and 5ks for different causes you can join and support as you aim for the barefoot marathon run.
4. Try A Half Marathon (13 Miles)
Now we are getting serious. At this point, you should have a good sense of all you need to run a 5k so you will need to attempt a half marathon. This is where you bring together all the learnings and experience you have gathered up to date.
Once again find a half marathon local to you with a theme that catches your interest and maybe a charity element so you can raise money for a good cause and go for it. Don’t think about breaking any records at this point; your focus should be to relax and not to over-stride and keep good form for as long as you can during the race. All the data you get will get you ready for the marathon.
If you fall short and break form and your body is all over the place, then you will need to build more endurance and strength. Should this indeed be the case then you will need to run a few more half marathons. This will get your confidence in your abilities to a place where you are ready for the full Barefoot marathon.
5.Test Out All Your Gear And Try Everything On
By everything I mean everything. At this point, you should know you best shoe for running mine is this one here in the recommended gear section. The most important things to test will be shoes and socks and any particular clothing you may need for the race.
The reason why I say you need to test everything you plan on using to run your first barefoot marathon is simple.
All your gear will have been tried and tested you will what works for YOU.
I cannot emphasise this enough, doing this will mean that of all the thing you have to worry about gear will not be one of them.
Your focus on Marathon day will be to finish well
6. Attempt your first Barefoot Marathon
The Big day is here. Let imagine you have done all the work and preparation and sign up and go for your first Barefoot Marathon. Take it all in, get loads of photos, wave to the crowd, smile enjoy the experience of the day. Very few people get to run a marathon for one reason or the other. Thinking of them as you do it, it’s not easy, but it can be done.
Barefoot Marathon Runners In Recent Times
I go into a lot more details in my other post here about why barefoot running became popular in but the two notable barefoot runners are:
He was a member of the Imperial Bodyguard in Ethiopia. Bekele joined the team as a last-minute but caused a sensation when he had to run barefoot through the streets of Rome and go on to win the gold medal. This made him the first sub-Saharan African to do so, at the 1960 Olympic Games. He would go on to retain the title in the next Olympic games, but this time he was wearing shoes.
Zola Budd Pieterse
Zola became known for her barefoot running style, training and racing barefoot. She won the 1985 and 1986 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. In later years she became the first African woman to win the New York City Marathon in 1994, winning yet again in 1998.
We started off answering the question: can you run a marathon in barefoot shoes? The answer is yes you can if you prep and follow some of the pointers in the articles. Quite a few people have done it in the past and more and more are doing it now. The trick is to get the right information you get you pointed in the right directions.
If you do run a marathon barefoot, let me know how you did fand what else you would do (or not do) if you were to do it all over again. Leave a comment or ask a question and have fun running barefoot in whatever form you choose.
Can Olympic Runners Compete Barefoot? Yes, they can. You are allowed to run barefoot but it’s very uncommon to see. It would mean that most probably you would have been competing and training barefoot at an elite level to start with. With easy access to shoes and shoe sponsorship commonplace in elite sports though I don’t expect to see it.
Can You Run Faster Barefoot Than With Shoes? No, you can not, your speed as a runner is a function of your force applied from the forefoot. Barefoot running helps you in perfecting your form running. If you are sprinting in spikes you will get better traction than if you were barefoot.