Book Review: Run Barefoot Run Healthy
Run Barefoot Run Healthy: Less Pain More Gain for Runners over 30 by Ashish Mukharji is a compilation of hundreds of answers to the questions most often asked on the topic of barefoot running. Ashish makes a strong case for shedding footwear altogether to enjoy the benefits of running barefoot.
About the Author
Ashish Murharji is a recreational runner who suffered twenty years of running injuries before going barefoot three years ago. He's not a medical professional nor an elite runner. Instead, he is like most of us — his primary reason for running is for his health and enjoyment with an occasional race. Since he makes no claims to be an expert, he draws on the research of others who are. The book contains dozens of references to scientific papers, articles, books, and videos to both back up his answers and provide resources for further reading.
The target audience is listed right in the title. The author is writing for runners over thirty because he believes most younger runners aren't victims of the chronic injuries caused by shod running and they may be more interested in performance rather than long-term health. That may be true, but I contend it is never too early to start going barefoot. We start out in this world barefoot so there is no reason why we should stop. It is never too early to develop healthy habits and the longer you run in shoes, the harder it is to transition out of them. So if you're under thirty, you won't be forever and this book is for you, too!
And what about minimalist shoes like Vibram FiveFingers and others? Ashish Murharji is adamant about going strictly barefoot when running and only wearing minimalist shoes when environmental conditions demand it and only after you've developed your barefoot technique. I agree that there is no better way to develop proper barefoot running technique than skin-to-ground contact. But if you're hesitant to try barefoot running, much of the book's content applies to those transitioning to minimalist shoes.
Run Barefoot Run Healthy is not organized like most books. Instead, it is organized much like a "Frequently Asked Questions" (FAQ) list. Each chapter contains lists of questions and answers pertaining to a particular aspect of barefoot running. The chapters cover such topics as commons injuries, problems of footwear, and the science of barefoot running. Interspersed among the these topics are interviews with podiatrists and other recreational barefoot runners. There is also a chapter which provides a plan to making the transition to barefoot running along recommended exercises to help you along the way.
The book is a quick read and moves quickly between topics to keep thing interesting. It stays at a fairly top level and reads very much like a casual conversation you might with a barefoot running convert. The questions are either ones you might have asked yourself at some point or have been asked of you by others. While it is difficult use this book as a reference and quickly find an answer to a particular question you might have, it is worthwhile to read it cover-to-cover. There might be a few questions in there you didn't know you had and some answers that might surprise you.
Run Barefoot Run Healthy is a great addition to any barefoot runner's library. If you're considering transitioning to barefoot running or easing into it with minimal shoes, this book will answer most of the questions you might have. If you've already made the transition, you've learned that barefoot runners and even Vibram FiveFingers wearers draw lots of attention. This book will prepare you to answer all the questions you'll likely get from curious and hopefully interested observers.