Running Barefoot in Hyde Park

If like me, your Tuesday evenings are set aside for exercising and, like me, you fancy trying something a bit different, say hello to VIVOBAREFOOT running club in Hyde Park from 6.30pm.

A fan of everything running-related as well as being prone to going barefoot in public, I rocked up to the first session naked from the ankle down in my gym kit. Everyone else was wearing a pair of VIVOBAREFOOT shoes. Had I misread the brief? Or had I just read Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run and gotten a little bit overexcited about the prospect of being a Tarahumara and part of a barefooted tribe? Probably both.

No-one batted an eyelid though, most just assuming I was too hardcore a believer of VIVO to wear any footwear at all and who was I to tell them otherwise? So my feet, bearing all in the torrential April showers, were happy like the film and ready to do as they were told.

During the hour that followed I learnt more about the skill of running than I have in the last 20 years. VIVOBAREFOOT is more than just a brand of running trainer; it is a running religion. Its foundations and beliefs are built around the form and science of running correctly as God intended and its nemeses are trainers promising ‘support’ and ‘cushion’. Probably best that I did leave my (newly purchased) Nike LunarGlides at home then.

As I ran along flicking my heels up (one, two, three, four; one, two, three, four), I asked more about the VIVO footwear.

The perfect shoe should primarily allow our foot to behave as if bare – like mine – because barefoot running is after all our evolutionary heritage. It’s been the major stimulus in creating the aspects of our muscular system that are uniquely human; your achilles and your gluteals to name a few. VIVO’s running club and shoe combine to help develop and condition these muscles and tendons.

All the exercises we were put through were new to me but as I did them I could see which related to each muscle. Simple but effective stuff that I’d failed to think about before. As my bare soles enjoyed hitting the ground I wondered what the extra support my trainers possessed actually did. My answer wasn’t what I expected. It is thanks to our proprioceptive system that we as a race are incredibly good at moving.

Proprioception is responsible for providing us with body awareness and sensory feedback from the environment around us and a weighty 70 per cent of the feedback our brain receives is from the nerves in our feet. So the thick padding on my shoes which I thought were good for me is effectively cutting off the sensory feedback from my feet, potentially causing me an injury.

There is so much more to learn about VIVOBAREFOOT, I’m only really touching the sides here. Visit the website for all the information you need. Where Military Fitness camps cater for those who need to be forced to exercise, VIVOBAREFOOT running club is for a higher echelon of athlete. See for yourself; it’s uncommon sense.

Hyde Park
North of Serpentine Bridge

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2 Responses

  1. Ed Savory

    Mike – nice article. I read Born to Run and have since started barefoot running and it’s addictive and amazing – note of caution, the transfer should be steady i.e. phase out trainer running slowly as your body will not be used to running 5 plus miles unshoed. Also – check out http://www.barefootted.com, hero! Cheers

  2. Emily Hughes

    Hey Mike, great article. I am a barefoot runner myself using either virbrams or Vivos depending on the surface.

    I am making a short documentary on barefoot running soon (student TV doc) and was wondering if you might fancy giving me a short interview or if perhaps you could recommend anyone else who is heavily involved with the barefoot scene?


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