Everyone has heard about barefoot running and all its glory. Everyone has also written a series of blog posts, forum thread comments, and essays on how to begin to run barefoot. Usually it’s stuff like go slow, bend your knees, lift your feet, etc etc.  While that’s all well and good, it’s not practical. No one can SHOW you how to run correctly. More importantly, no one can TELL you how to either. Sure, they can help critique your form and what not, but they can’t tell you how to run best for your own personal body. I do happen to know of one such entity that can do just that, and it can do it in less than 100 yards.

Barefoot Running’s best teacher.

Allow me to introduce you to Gravel. He may be sharp tongued and rough around the edges, but this guy can teach you to run correctly in less time than it takes to put on your huaraches. Barefoot running is NOT rocket science. Sure, there have been people that make a living off claiming that it is, but it’s not. Most people think that running on smooth as a baby’s ass concrete is the best way to run barefoot because it won’t mess up their feet…You’re right, that is exactly the best way to run barefoot…Except on grass which feels amazing, but that’s another story.

The problem with starting out on smooth concrete is that it doesn’t teach you to run as lightly as you should to prevent any unecessary abrasions, lacerations, scrapes, scuffs, owies and boo-boos. Gravel on the other foot, forces you to run as lightly as possible, or gingerly tip toe your ass back onto the soft stuff all the while looking like a complete puss. Seriously, ever seen someone walk barefoot on gravel??? They scrunch up their shoulders and do this ballerina shuffle/walk over the gravel. When in reality, if they’d just relax and let their feet mold over the gravel, they’d be much better off.
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about running on gravel either. That post goes into detail about starting your gravel running adventures. I mean come on, one doesn’t just kick off their shoes and start running on rocks…That’s just asinine. Plus, barefoot running isn’t rocket science, but barefoot running on sharp pointy shit is. *insert snicker here*. I’m not the first to think of running on gravel, and I’m certainly not the first write about it. Ken Bob Saxton, Patron Saint of Barefoot running, wrote about it in his book, Barefoot Running: Step by Step. Yep, it’s where I got the idea from too. Running on gravel teaches you the proper technique for running and it does so for less than the cost of the gas to get to the gravel site. While the other tips/tricks/advice that people give about barefoot running has been said over and over and over and over and over…you get the picture, not a whole lot of people advocate starting on the roughest surface you can find. That’s why running on gravel is the very first thing I tell people when they ask about running barefoot and how to get started. Running on gravel naturally forces people to lower their distances, bend their knees, relax their shoulders, lift their feet, land under center of gravity, and all the other hallmarks of good running form. If you don’t do those things, expect for it to hurt and expect for yourself to look like an idiot.
So go out and run on gravel people,
  1. […] Morning fellow grokstars, I thought I'd share a post that I've recently written over at my blog about beginning barefoot running. With spring right around the corner, depending on your geographic […]

  2. Renee says:

    just recently started running barefoot. Thanks for the post. I attempted my first 5k trail run last week in my barefoot shoes. I was nervous being I was not used to running on trails. I have run on concrete, on the grass next to the concrete,and work out in my barefoot shoes…never gravel infested trails. Everything you said was true…I thought I was running “light”…nope, but the gravel changed that :0) My calves are hurtin’ pretty good but I finished a very gravel covered hilly run in almost record time and received my first medal ever! The gravel occassionally shot a spark of pain as I caught a sharp edge, but mostly I felt as though I was getting a great foot massage!

  3. Stephen ... says:


    I started my barefoot adventure a couple of days ago and have been attempting to run on gravel from the start. No matter how hard I try, I haven’t got much quicker than a brisk walking pace and I’m always accompanied by various involuntary noises.

    I’m sure it will get easier over time but for now I have resigned myself to looking (and sounding) like an idiot while I hobble across the gravel.

    • Speed is a secondary benefit. Don’t worry about how fast you go at first. Keep your cadence up…If you are familiar with military cadences, we want our feet to touch the ground in double time. If you run with an ipod, Turning japanese is a good song to keep rhythm with. It’ll get better 🙂

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