my VFFs!At about the same time I started running barefoot and in Vibram Five Fingers and started blogging about it last year, it became apparent that there was quite a disagreement raging on the interwebs. This disagreement was between those in favor of minimalist running and those who recommended the traditional running shoe approach (and many Podiatrists, who seemed to become the face of that side of the argument.) As more and more runners read Born to Run and switch to barefoot or minimalist running though (disregarding their Nike-wearing brethren,) there seems to be a new argument brewing.

This argument is between the “true” barefoot runners and those who wear minimalist shoes like VFFs or Terra Plana Evo’s. The barefooters say that you need your soles in direct contact with the ground to get the real benefits. Even minimalist shoes allow you to ignore some of the bodies warning signals and allowing your form to suffer. The minimalist shoe wearers argue that a thin sole between them and the ground allows nearly the same form as if they were barefoot, but with the added benefit of being able to worrying less about scrapes and puncture wounds. This allows them to run at a faster speed and maintain their competitiveness in races, etc.

Even more recently however, in the Minimalist Running Google Group that I subscribe to, there was a post debating the point at which someone could refer to themselves as “Barefoot <name>.” Naturally, this would strike a chord with Barefoot Brandon! Many of those responding on the post came to the conclusion that you had to run a full marathon barefoot before you could give yourself the title. As someone currently referring to himself with the Barefoot prefix and as someone who has never run a marathon in any time of footwear (or lack of,) I figured I’d give my excuse/justification/defense…

  • My name is Brandon and considering all the domain name squatting going on these days, was just too good to let sit by the wayside until I ran a full marathon barefooot! Plus, Minimalist Brandon just doesn’t have the same ring to it…and also makes it sound like I’m promoting nudism or something ;-)
  • I believe in ideas and concepts behind barefoot running and use my limited (at the moment) barefoot running as training for when I run longer runs in my Vibram Five Fingers (or other minimalist shoes.)
  • I plan to run barefoot more often in the future, although it’ll take somewhat of a backseat until I’ve run my first marathon (in VFFs.)
  • I’m barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes nearly 100% of time I’m not running.
  • The blog isn’t all about ME! I also share links to studies about barefoot running and posts by other “true” barefoot bloggers.
  • However, it is MY blog and I’ll do what I like…so there!

Anyways, enough complaining, time to share some links from the past week for your enjoyment…

  • A Simple Kind Of Man [Competitor] – Great interview with minimalist ultramarathon runner Anton Krupicka, who recently won the Miwok 100K. Definitely interesting to see his take on the Ultra Marathon Man, Dean Karnazes.
  • Interview with Patrick Sweeney, Winner of the Palos Verdes Marathon [Birthday Shoes] – He won the marathon wearing Vibram Five Fingers! We need more finishes like this to legitimize them. Sweeney also runs the blog Bourbon Feet, where he discusses his love for drinking adult beverages…running…and sometimes both at the same time!
  • Michael Wardian Video Interview: 2010 Comrades Marathon [iRunFar] – Interview with Wardian, who Krupicka (above) bested at Miwok, regarding his running of the Comrades Marathon.
  • Desperate Housewife Stalks Male Supermodel in Sports Death March [Outside] – Interesting article about extreme ultrarunner Pam Reed, who attempts to go head-to-head with Dean Karnazes for publicity in the world of ultramarathon running. While generally a reclusive and ego-free sport, Reed and Karnazes are doing everything they can to take it mainstream…whether or not anyone else likes it.
  • The Barefoot Running Injury Epidemic [Competitor] – Author Matt Fitzgerald discusses an apparent increase in barefoot running injuries recently, which makes sense due to the increased number of people doing it these days. He also elaborates and hints that the rate of injury is greater among barefoot runners than among those wearing shoes, which is where he starts to get into murky waters. The injuries to barefoot runners are primarily due to lack of discipline in taking it slow during the transition. If the situation was reversed (run barefoot whole life, then jump to shoes and try to run same distance,) we’d probably see an article mentioning the alarming rate of injury for runners wearing shoes. The problem is that there is still a lack of data to really tell which style of running causes/prevents injuries at the higher rate. Proper running form is probably the biggest determinate of whether you’re going to injure yourself or not anyways, so if a lot of people who have poor form in shoes are switching to barefoot and running too far to start, of course they’re going to injure themselves. Alright, enough rambling, read the article if you like.
  • Remains of the Day: The Caffeine Potency Chart Edition [LifeHacker] – For those coffee and energy drink drinkers out there, here’s a good chart to see how the caffeine levels measure up.
  • 20 Worst Drinks in America 2010 [Men’s Health] – Sticking with the beverages theme, here are the worst drinks you can find, compared to the sweets you could eat instead :-)

Finally, just wanted to let people know that I made another purchase of Vita Coco coconut juice. I heard somewhere that coconut juice is even better than Gatorade for re-hydrating and using Amazon’s subscription deal (free shipping, plus a discount!) it’s pretty cheap!


  1. I'm with you on this one Brandon.

    I think it's all a bit ridiculous to say someone is not barefoot when they are wearing VFF's. Of course, I know that technically by definition they are not barefoot, but science gives us backing that there is no difference between the two.

    There is documentation out there showing the pressure-plate-loading differences between barefooters and VFF wearers – and there is none. It is identical!

    I split my time between VFF's and barefooting because I like the feel of the ground and it does give me more connectedness to Earth if you like. But apart from that, VFF's allow you to run with less danger, and still maintain the optimal foot (and body) mechanics we are all striving for.

    Keep it up Barefoot Brandon

    • Brandon says:

      Thanks for the support! I don't plan on giving up the domain name anytime soon, so when the REAL barefoot Brandon comes along, he'll have to cough up some serious $$$ for it :-)

      As far as the title "Barefoot", I guess I would frown upon someone who has never even tried running true barefoot before using it, but if you have at least some experience and buy into the concepts, that's all the qualification you need to satisfy me!

  2. Oh, interweb drama. Every group has its

  3. BarefootLorena says:

    Im a beginner barefooter, which is why I like reading your blogs (reading about ultramarathoners barefooters can be a bit intimidating!).

    I agree. Even though I now run only barefoot (because I did feel the VFFs were hindering my form), I think VFFs are great for when youve already got the barefoot form down. I do think you should start out barefoot, this was what I got from my experience.

    However, I soooo wish the bf community would stop alienating with these discussions. I am very upfront about my experience, I do NOT claim to be an expert! So I dont see the need to implement rules about naming. If you are looking for good resources on bfrunning, make sure your reference is good!

    PLUS, I am the only bf runner I know of in Mexico and it is my goal to communicate with spanish-speaking interested people and the name is going to help me be identified as a link between english speaking community and spanish speaking community online. Again, I DO NOT claim to be an expert, instead, I tell them im a beginner and direct them to great resources from barefoot veterans. I also do translations of resources.

    My contributions are important, as a beginner and as a Mexican, and my use (and yours!) of the name will go a long way towards the broadening of the barefoot community, which is in everyones interest.

    • Brandon says:

      I agree on all counts. Keep up representing barefoot running in Mexico!

      Maybe it's a stupid question, but have you read Born to Run? Barefoot Ted does a bit of running in Mexico barefoot…but he's no local :-)

      • BarefootLorena says:

        I did! I actually got the book because I was a (shod) runner and because of the reference to the Tarahumara, but I had no idea it would end up convincing me to go barefoot.

        Maybe I should qualify what I said earlier like this: I am the only barefoot runner I know of who ISN