Defending Choices - The Barefoot vs. Shoes Debate

Do you hear that slapping sound? Ok. Maybe you didn't. Its the sound of me slapping my forehead. I'm a bit disoriented from some online discussions going on and thought I would share.

I usually don't post about certain discussions that I will unwittingly follow from time to time on the barefoot running blogosphere (some of them are like a car crash and you just have to watch). Frankly, a lot of these discussions end in moot points and wounded egos and I really don't have the energy to waste on that kind of shit. But, today I'm full of energy (I just ate half a container full of chocolate covered espresso beans) I'm just going to throw my two cents into the center ring and then sit back and watch all those barefoot purists and minimalists-shoddies slaughter each other hunger games style.

There's an ongoing debate amongst the barefoot purists and shoe wearers. I don't want to get into the details, but lets just suffice it to say that both sides feels this dire need to express and defend their choice to either wear footwear or not. Some of these folks are runners. Some aren't. Some choose barefooting as a lifestyle while others choose to wear shoes when they feel shoes are necessary for them.

If you want to read about the barefoot vs. shod arguments here are some very articulate ones: 
Run Barefoot Girl - Barefoot Lifestyle Discussion with Barefoot Jaime 
Barefoot Angie Bee - Barefoot is a Tool
Barefoot Monologues - Building a Better Toolbox 

I don't see this debate as the ongoing barefoot vs. shod debate that its always been. Recently barefoot running and even the barefoot lifestyle as a choice has been getting a lot more attention. To me this "debate" isn't a debate at all, but rather a means for one group to direct another in its choices and decisions.

The interesting thing is that all the people who are participating in this debate are good people (I know I'm generalizing here, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt) who seem to have some sort of vested interest in other people's choices. I'm not sure why. Its a choice. A choice that only affects the individual making it.

Vanessa Runs posted her response to Caity's Podcast interview with Barefoot Jamie, a barefoot lifestyle advocate on her blog. Now. Don't get me wrong. I love Vanessa to death. She's a super sharp and sweet girl who has so many thoughtful opinions and responses to many issues out there in our running community. But here's where we differ. She posts this well articulated response to the above podcast interview by Run Barefoot Girl discussing why she is reconsidering barefoot running and defending her position on using shoes as a "tool."

My response to that same interview: "Whatever."

OK. My response wasn't quite so simplisitic, but "whatever" is pretty much what I think. Here's what I actually said on the facebook thread:
Peel away the layers of this discussion and all it boils down to is one person's judgement over another's. Its not about barefoot vs. shod its about one group trying to influence another. Honestly, I would completely embrace another person who chooses the barefoot lifestyle, but I may not embrace their lifestyle itself. Its about embracing people, not their choices. Who gives a shit about their choices unless they harm other people.

That just about sums up my opinion. I just walk away from something like this. Well, sorta, cuz I'm here talking about now aren't I? But I won't defend my choice to wear shoes or not wear shoes when I run or hang out at home for any reason because frankly it's unnecessary. There's no sense in discussing issues when its really not about issues at all, but about the control and influence one group could possibly have over another. Many times the real issue is not the issue you think it is. Its the control people have over other people's decisions. I've seen this countless of times when "debates" break out and it seems to always happen when there is a choice about "lifestyles." 

To me this is just creating endless drama. The less people partake in creating the drama the less drama there is. That's my opinion anyway. That may sound like a cop out, but there it is. 
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  1. Hey I agree with your opinion. Choose what works best for you whenever. I don't need to influence anyone one way or another. I just want to enjoy running .... sometimes barefoot, sometimes not. It's all good:)

  2. I'm a shoe person, but I sometimes get random urges to try the barefoot thing. Last night, just sitting in my chair, reading a book, and suddenly I wanted to go run with no shoes. It never happened because my wife was just finishing making dinner for her mom and I, and I can't just run off into the wild when MIL is coming over. Still though, there's been this random whisper in my ear to try it for a while now and it will probably happen soon.

    I'm with you. I feel the right of footwear or lack thereof is a personal choice that everyone is entitled to make on their own (and change at any given time). I don't care if someone's running barefoot or with moon boots. Half the point of enjoying the running community is accepting everyone's weird quirks and difference. Let's face it, we're all oddballs in our own special ways.

    Not only that, but most of us are pretty opinionated, anyway when it comes to our own running (though some of us are much less vocal about it). I can't see changing someone's mind just by being a confrontational jerkface about footwear.

    1. Haha! Vaud - Do you often get the urge to just "run off into the wild" when your MIL comes over? Hmmmm. Sounds like a problem. *grin*

    It's funny but some people just need to argue about stuff.. run how u want, just run...

    I did like the post by Barefoot Monologues

  4. I am a totally new "baby" barefoot runner...really. I've been investigating the topic and reading for a month or so and I've only run barefoot twice so far. As such, I am pretty new to the running community. It made me a little sad when I stumbled across this whole controversy. Much like early love, I was under the illusion it was all sunshine and rainbows and one big barefoot/minimalist running love fest. (((sigh))) Alas, now I know that the minimalist running community is just like pretty much any other community--i.e., made up of imperfect humans who sometimes have strong opinions and sometimes feel the need for drama. Meh. I think I'll just do whatever feels right for me and stick my fingers in my ears and say, "La! La! La! I'm not listening!" ;-P

    1. Michele - I find the "la, la, la" technique works for me. ;-) As long as you are happy nothing else matters, right? That's my thought anyway.


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