What’s the big deal? Comments please!

The media stir generated by Daniel Lieberman’s study has been astonishing.  I wish I’d been a little more diligent about collecting up all the links that friends have sent me in the last day. They include coverage from Time, NPR, the New York Times, and countless blogs and newspapers.  An English buddy sent me a link from the Guardian across the pond. Because of the local Harvard connection, the Boston media was lit up like a Christmas tree with TV, radio and newspaper spots. Good for us…

Barefoot Ken Bob

Barefoot Ken Bob

…I guess. My sense, though, is that what makes it so newsworthy is the whole “these guys are crazy” thing, exacerbated by the mid-Winter timing of the study’s release. I was particularly put off by the wimpy Time reporter who did a video of a test run in some NYC park at the end of which he said something like, “It wasn’t so bad, but I think I’ll wait ’til Spring.”

It’s been curious to see who of my friends have been more and less open-minded with regards the whole concept. To over-generalize, it seems women have been less judgmental. On the male side, I’ve gotten strong (albeit tongue in cheek) criticism of this radical pursuit from a guy with whom I oft wallowed at the bottom of muddy rucks on the rugby pitch and another who once lead me on Main Street car-mooning mission.  Surprisingly my wife although never too keen on activities like my Winter Cape Cod swims, has been not only supportive but immediately lost her shoes for her own treadmill runs. And, as I was heading out the door in 20 degree weather last weekend, her otherwise conventional sister immediately connected the idea to what she’d learned teaching Nia classes, “Your feet are the hands that massage the earth.” Right on, Aunt Pat!

I’m not drawing any great sociological conclusions, particularly about the gender bias—my cousin Marion thinks I’m nuts and plenty of guys are supportive. However there is something about barefoot running that is a unique dichotomy, at once intriguing and incomprehensible to many, and which tends to elicit strong reaction.

What do you think it is about barefoot running that causes such a stir?

Explore posts in the same categories: Barefoot Running, Experience

4 Comments on “What’s the big deal? Comments please!”

  1. Robert Feeley Says:

    Linguists Brawl in Boston:


    EDITOR’S NOTE: This is totally irrelevant to my blog, but fairly clever so I said, “Sure.”

  2. jenniepurnell Says:

    Not sure about the gender stuff. Women do spend more time almost barefoot in public–we wear sandals more, right? And in my limited experience guys don’t much like the look of their feet. But then all the barefoot running sites seem to be guy sites.

    As for the intensity of the reaction–barefoot running is completely counter-intuitive. It ought to hurt, not feel better. On a warm and sunny beach it looks great. Cold roads and New England winter, not so much.

    I’m a sporadic runner. Quit because it hurt my ankles and knees too much and consistently set off bursitis in my hips. God that makes me sound old. So I want to try barefoot to see if I can run without hurting. I’m thinking of getting a treadmill to start though. Until, say, May.

  3. Susan Says:

    So barefoot running is supposed to be better for you physically, right? It sounds crazy when you think about a pounding pavement but then I spend as much time as possible barefoot, so not so crazy. I’ve always used the treadmill barefoot — maybe because I’m too lazy to go find appropriate socks and lace up the shoes — just to stay inside.

  4. Steve Says:

    It just seems so unorthodox…until you realize that we’ve been running as a species without shoes for years and years and years. Shoes are the new kids on the block.

    I thought it was crazy too, until I tried em out. Now I do everything barefoot – running and weight lifting.


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