In terms of pure physics you can measure the barefoot benefit by less weight and drag. Typical running shoe can weigh anywhere between 10 and 16 ounces. Take off the weight and you remove a bit of resistance. Assuming that you take 1,800 steps per mile (that’s roughly 3 feet covered in each stride length), you can expect to move a 10 to 16 ounce shoe about 47,000 times during a full marathon. Granted this can fluctuate depending on the runner, however you can expect well over 30,000 strides for just about anyone who runs a marathon. With a bit of simple math it’s easy to see how taking off 10 to 16 ounces of weight can add up.
For most runners though it seems that the primary motivation for trying barefoot running stems from a history of chronic running related injury. In a quest to run injury free runners are willing to try just about anything. Some turn to yoga. Others see sports therapists and/or chiropractors on a frequent basis. The majority of runners with injury turn to top of the line running equipment that’s coined as being the cure-all for maintaining a healthy running lifestyle. Our options include Custom orthotics, stability control shoes with massive heel and arch support, and the list goes on.
It’s not an entirely one-sided story though. I have noticed that my feet and calves get very sore. After my first 2 mile run barefoot my calves felt like they typically would do after a 10 mile run in shoes. I also occasionally felt a burning sensation in my left heel. Those problems disappeared after a few weeks of training.
Despite the unique soreness in my feet and calves I viewed it as a positive experience. The soreness told me that I was making them stronger and building them back to a natural state of incredible strength and dexterity.