If you’re trying to toughen your soles to endure the abuse of barefoot running, then you really don’t understand how barefoot running helps prevent injuries – by teaching us to run more gently, by re-learning how to move our body in a way that doesn’t cause pain in the soles. It is NOT about toughening the soles, it is about making running easier, gentler, more efficient and graceful.
In the topsy-turvy world of barefoot running sensitive soles are a benefit, not a hindrance. Tough soles are a hindrance … to learning HOW to run better. It is precisely because we have sensitive soles that we can learn to run gently, by learning how to move in ways that avoid the pain caused from pounding our feet into the running surface, Whenever we are running in a way that could be injurious in the long run, our bare soles are sure to let us know, emphatically and immediately, with each and every step that we don’t correct this bad technique. If it hurts to run barefoot on most any surface, then you still haven’t learned HOW to run the way your body wants to run.
And it really isn’t about “working” at it, running, after all, should not be an “endurance” activity. Running should be easy and gently, not something difficult and painful to be endured. Learning to run barefoot is about finding the easiest, gentlest, most efficient and fun way to move our body in the direction we want to travel (generally that will be forward).
So, yes there are some basic techniques that can be taught. These are essentially the same basics that experience barefoot runners have learned by testing and playing with various ways to move the body over decades of barefoot running by listening to their own bodies and soles.
But, essentially there are two fundamentals to remember:
- The goal of running is to move the body in the direction we want to travel (generally that will be forward).
- The goal of learning to run while barefoot is to learn how to move the body in the direction we want to travel, as easily and gently as possible.
Of course, the second fundamental incorporates the first, so to test any element of running technique we really only need to figure out if it helps move us forward, easily and gently, or at the very least, does not impede our forward travel.