By Anders Lorenzen
When Vivobarefoot, the company that has been changed our relationship with footwear with the objective of bringing us closer in touch with the ground that we walk, trek or run upon, offered me to try out one of their barefoot running shoes, I did not hesitate.
Having only taken up running a couple of years ago, it did not take me long to understand the huge focus in the running community in acquiring the latest tech and gear. I began to witness the huge issue of overconsumption associated with running, not helped by the fact that during lockdown it had surged in popularity. I also noticed how many especially first-time runners become injured. Were people getting injured because of over-enthusiasm, having the wrong gear or simply just using incorrect running techniques?
In the course of my research into this issue, I came upon the concept of barefoot running shoes.
The barefoot revolution
Advocates of barefoot running, or those who just prefer running in minimalised running shoes, say that the experience brings us closer to how our forefather’s hunter-gatherers ran. It’s also similar to how present-day East African runners run, the most successful runners in the world, who seem to experience far fewer injuries.
But switching to running this way is not as simple as ditching your normal running shoes and using for barefoot models. A gradual transition period is required whilst your feet become de-accustomed to shoes with more support.
The people at Vivobarefoot were keen to remind me of the importance of easing gently into my new shoes by starting by walking in them and when I started using them to run in to start off a few kilometres at a time to avoid injuries.
The sustainable approach
As an environmentalist, what appealed to me about Vivobarefoot is that the company has achieved more progress in producing sustainable running shoes than any other running shoe brand I had come across. The Primus Trail FG shoe I tried out is a vegan shoe and made partly from recycled PET bottles. Their shoes also feature an insole made from BLOOM, a bio-based alternative material. The company has also recently been certified as a B Corp company – a coalition of companies who share the objective in balancing profit and purpose. You can read more about their sustainability credentials here.
A different feeling
As I put on the Primus Trail FG for the first time I felt a connection to the ground I cannot remember having felt with any other shoe. Gone was the protection I had felt with other shoes but it also felt like my feet were freer and less constrained, and I could suddenly feel muscles I had not felt in my feet when running previously. Over several weeks to follow, I gradually ran longer running distances and different terrains and surfaces, and I can now confidently feel I’m making good progress changing my running to be more natural.
For me, the Primus Trail FG brought running back to what I believe it really should be. A greater connection to nature as you tread on the ground through materials that are not only friendlier to nature but help to protect the environment around us.
If barefoot running appeals to you I would say you should explore it, but give it time as changes will not happen overnight. Start by going for walks in the shoes before you use them for running, and read up on the facts. Another good starting point is Christopher McDougall popular book, Born to Run. And do reach out to the people at Vivobarefoot for guidance and listen to their very own podcast series: Sustain This.