Good form running – I love to share & all, but I’m getting in over my head

I have no problem sharing tips and advice when it comes to all things Functional Fitness. Now, I have been barefoot cross training for 2011 and half way through the year finally began running barefoot just for fun.

Barefoot Running expert, Jason Robillard, from Barefoot Running University warned me of my current problem earlier this year over some good draft beer and burgers. See, Jason has been teaching others to run with good form through his barefoot running clinics for years.  I never took one of his clinics and now he is out across the country (and sometimes world) so I’m stuck on my own.  He warned earlier this year and said that others that work out with me will be interested and will start trying to go barefoot.

What Jason didn’t warn me about, was all the friends, family, and coworkers constantly asking me about minimalist shoes, barefoot running, and good form running. I know I am using the term “good form” running, but that is becoming a popular term to describe how to run properly. Barefoot running is the best way to get their, but you don’t necessarily have to be barefoot to run with good form.

But I’m getting off topic (as usual). So I have been talking to all these folks about what I do know.  See how this sounds:

– The increased amount of force on the body from heel striking instead of a mid-foot strike.

-How many folks have less injuries and pain when they avoid heel striking.

-How to land mid-foot versus the heel.

-Leaning forward at the ankle and letting gravity help move you.

-Keeping your arms loose, yet core still firm.

-Trying to land quietly (I am still horrible at this with my clogging around).

-Move the feet faster and keeping your legs underneath your body.

-How you actually save energy running in good form versus swinging your arms and whipping your legs out in front of you.

-I talk about how a raised heel affects posture.

-I talk about the importance of taking it slow and to expect some discomfort in the calf or possibly top of the foot pain, and to listen to that and back off if needed.

-I even talk about the history behind the modern running shoe.

-I talk about how you need arch support with a heel strike because your foot turns inward with the extra force generated by the unnatural heel strike. More padded heels and more arch support then is needed and the vicious cycle continues until you can’t run anymore

So hopefully I have things right here. But even if I am spot on, that doesn’t solve my current problem.  I have an ever increasing number of interested people wanting me to show them how to run barefoot, or at least what is proper form.  I have never run a clinic. I don’t know how to watch their gate and teach them how to fix it. I can tell when somebody heel strikes easy enough, but how do I get them step-by-step to correct that.  Especially if they want to do it in minimalist shoes.

Help!!!  Can anybody out there give me some guidance. People are turning to me and I feel totally unqualified to fix their running form. It is one thing to explain why they should change their form, but another thing all together to help them do it.

I am counting on you BFers out there to guide me. Help me to help them. Or help me to avoid helping them. Maybe I just need to steer them someplace else. Please, please give me advice.


your friendly barefoot loving, Functional Fitness, in-too-deep, friend.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Jason

    Ha, ha, I always leave those parts out! 😉

    Running form is interesting. It can be a simple or as complex as you want to make it. In the early days, I kept things simple. Over time, my methods became more complex. Results didn’t improve. I went back to the “simple” methods and found it easier for people to grasp. I boiled it down to three elements: upright posture, foot landing under center of gravity, and a fast, short stride (cadence.)

    By virtue of the questions you asked above, you already know more than 99% of the people out there. Just be honest about what you know and don’t know and always be open to learning from others. It’s a simple teaching philosophy that has gotten me pretty far. Actually, do exactly the same thing you do to teach functional fitness.

  2. Kemme Fitness

    That wasn’t vague! ha ha….actually it is good advice to keep things simple. My problem is when others run around in front of me and are like, “so am I running right?” It can be hard to tell at times.

    Not all the times, I ran next to Connie during a workout and she asked how her run was. I was laughing so hard as her legs were about 4 feet out in front of her (long legs). The next circuit when we ran around the house, she just looked down and was like, “oh man, my form is horrible.” By the way, her New Balance Minimus Trail shoes she has for walking has helped her knee pain, among other aches. Just from walking around! Ties in with your post on how heels affect those on their feet (

    I don’t suppose you have points on a person’s body or any give aways to help with those that are not so obvious with their run?

  3. The thing about this sort of advice is that, unless people are in a particular venue like a clinic or coaching session, I’m not all that convinced that they really want it. All my conversations on the subject where I get into detail are usually just awkward. I think people want to learn more…just not that much.

    So usually I just to point them to a few sources online where they can find out more. Generally my website, Jason’s, and BRS.

  4. Kemme Fitness

    Yeah, I can see what you are talking about. The groups that I’m thinking most of are the groups I work out with. They see me workout barefoot and go back and forth with curioscity and some have asked me to watch them run. That is where I feel I’m out of my league. The rest of folks are only so interested. I’ll ship them to MGBG, BRS, and BRU and see if they are still interested.

    Plus one of them is my wife, so you know…lots of pressure 🙂

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