College or School
Faculty Research Advisor
Barefoot (BF) running has developed into a recent training technique for elite and sub-elite endurance runners. BF running is a recent type of training that may improve a runner’s Running Economy (RE) and, ultimately performance, by allowing for an enhancement of the foot and lower leg musculature, which, in turn, could improve running biomechanics by allowing the runner to land on the mid- or fore-foot. In spite of the many anecdotal statements that have been raised suggesting the benefits of BF running, there has been limited research evaluating a systematic training program designed to teach this skill and then test the outcome of this training on a runner’s economy and race performance. PURPOSE: To determine if the use of a systematic barefoot running training program would result in an improved running economy and race performance. HYPOTHESIS: That this 10-week BF training program would yield an improvement in running economy as well as 5K race performance. METHODS: To date, 3 adult males who were habitual shoe-wearing runners (SHOD) have completed all testing. Each participant reported to the laboratory four times. On Day 1, informed consent was completed and subject characteristics were determined including height, body mass, and body composition followed by a VO2max test on a treadmill using a Cosmed K4b2 portable telemetric gas analysis system. Four to seven days later (Day 2), subject’s underwent RE tests on a treadmill in three conditions (flat (4 ms -1 ), decline (4.5 ms -1 at -5% grade), and incline (3 ms -1 at 5% grade)) and a 5k time trial performed on an indoor track. All tests were conducted in the SHOD condition. Following testing, subjects were allotted a one week break-in period prior to embarking on the 10-week systematic barefoot training program. This BF training program was a gentle and progressive program designed to minimize injury while learning the BF running skill. After ten weeks of barefoot running, Day 1 and 2 testing were repeated in the BF condition. RESULTS: Following the 10-week BF training program and compared to the SHOD condition, VO2max did not change, while RE improved 4.0% (flat), 3.3% (incline), and 0.1% (decline) in the BF condition. The 5k race time decreased ~1.0% post-training with mile split improvements observed mostly at mile 3. CONCLUSIONS: These preliminary findings suggest that a progressive, 10-week barefoot running training program may result in improved RE that, in turn, yields a faster race performance
Barody, Neil, "The Effect of a Barefoot Running Training Program on Running Economy and Performance" (2013). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 117.