Barefoot Running Step by Step

It’s hard to say enough good things about this book. Whether you’re a committed barefoot runner or someone who’s new to it, there’s lots here for you. It’s a good-looking book, with great photos and excellent text. It’s a “how to” book, a philosophy book, and a book about people. Best of all, it’s an introduction to Barefoot Ken Bob Saxton, who is not only the granddaddy of barefoot running, but also a wise, funny, and sensible man.

So my advice to you, right off the bat, is read this review, then order the book. Pronto. You’ll be glad you did.

The quote on the book’s cover says it all. According to Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run” and no mean barefoot runner himself, “Ken Bob is the master.” That, my friends, is an understatement. Saxton’s been running full-time barefoot for over twenty years. His Web site has been a goldmine of information about the subject for almost as long. He’s run hundreds of races barefoot, including 77 marathons (14 in a single year), short races, and one 53K trail ultra. He’s got the cred, and now he’s written the book.

“Step by Step” is divided into four sections. The first section introduces Saxton and the subject of barefoot running as a feedback loop activity. Section Two talks about barefoot technique, barefoot play, the dangers of barefoot exuberance, and running in minimalist shoes (which Saxton calls “halfway solutions”). Section Three is all about how barefoot running can, in fact, help you run faster. Section Four is about “real world” barefooting, and includes stories about barefoot runners around the world. (I urge you to go straight to the story by the guy who ran a race at a nudist colony, and felt conspicuous because he was barefoot. It’s priceless.)

The book’s content is superb. It’s instructional without being preachy. It’s full of Saxton’s wisdom and humour. It’s got all kinds of tips that will immediately help you run better. And it’s a handsome, well-designed book. The illustrations are excellent, both informative and inspiring. I was a bit surprised that there was no index, but later realized that this wasn’t a serious flaw, as this isn’t primarily a reference book. Maybe there’ll be an index in the second edition, maybe not.

Saxton has said (via his Facebook posts) that “Step by Step” is selling reasonably well. I hope it continues to do so. You can do your bit to make that happen by buying a copy. I strongly recommend that you do exactly that.

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4 comments

  1. Alan, I’ve found that the more I run barefoot, the more my entire view of the world changes. It’s so odd that doing something as simple as taking off your shoes does something so powerful as to morph (in my case) our entire way of thinking. I appreciate your review the book, and I’m definitely looking forward to picking it up. Have you made a decision about what you are featuring in your next contest? Just curious.

    Aaron.

    1. I agree about the changes that come with barefoot running. This will be my third summer of doing so, and the changes just keep on coming.

      As for the book… Yes, I will offer “Barefoot Running Step by Step” in my next giveaway. Stay tuned for more news soon.

  2. I will definately add this book to my birthday wish list. As you say Kenbob is _the_ barefoot runner. I like his attitude towards minimalist shoes 🙂

    1. Saxton’s pretty clear about minimalist shoes being a cop out. On the other hand, he’s remarkably non-judgmental about folks who choose not to run barefoot.

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