The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running

Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot RunningThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running
by Dr. Craig Richards and Thomas Hollowell
ISBN-13: 978-1615640621

I don’t fancy myself a complete idiot, or even a partial one at that.  But I gotta give props to this line of books for finding ways to write about such a broad range of subjects* in clear and concise ways.  I did see someone joke online about needing a “Complete Idiot’s” book on this subject, but it’s not that crazy once you delve into it.

This book is a pretty thorough book on general aspects of running, but it’s geared toward those looking to break into barefoot running.  There are drills and strengthening exercises that would be beneficial to just about any runner, but are specifically for helping to strengthen neglected muscles needed to run unshod.

The nutrition section had mention of chia seeds, the first time I’ve seen that in a running book, but not surprising given the chia seed/barefoot running that seem to be the big things people take from Born to Run.

I liked this book.  I learned several things I didn’t know, and I’ve been quite the student of barefoot running.  (That is studying it and learning about it, I haven’t dived into the practice for reasons that probably warrant a separate post all on their own!)

The chapter on injuries made me a little sad where it talked about stress fractures.  It said that bone scans are usually need to fully diagnose the fracture (Which my doctor tried to get me in for, but the only place that would take my insurance couldn’t do the scan until the end of July. Lame!) and it said that the treatment is rest for 6 to 10 weeks.  Yuck… I’m only about 2.5 weeks into my “rest” period.

Some interesting tidbits from the book I thought I would share:

  • Running shoes typically feature a built-up backend in the range of 8 to 12 mm.  By way of comparison, women’s shoes are not considered high heels until they are at least 8.5 cm off the ground. I feel better running in shoes with a lower heel-to-toe drop, but that difference doesn’t make the raised heel seem quite as evil as some of the forums I’ve read.
  • Transitioning to barefoot running takes time and can be hard for people who are already used to running a lot.  The book went so far as to say: If you don’t have the confidence or discipline to slow down for 3, 6 or 12 months, then you are unlikely to make the full transition to barefoot running.
  • The chapter about minimal shoes had this to say about using them: The best time to use barefoot shoes is when you are already running without shoes a significant amount of time over various terrain. Only when the foot, ankle and leg are strong; your foot padding toughened or thickened; and your form perfected, should you bring minimal shoes into the picture.

*I even saw on Amazon that they had an idiot’s guide to the Bible! The range on these products is amazing. From Algebra to making beauty products to zen living to amigurumi.  (Yeah, look it up, it’s a thing and it’s got whole books on it!)

This book was sent to me for free for review purposes. All opinions are my own.


  1. Jill,

    I haven’t seen this book, but have “The Idiot’s Guide to Marathon Training” that I was sent to review. I hope to get the review up this week.

    I am sorry about the injury chapter…reading that stuff when I had my SF made me depressed. I was off running almost 12 weeks with mine (diagnosed by MRI). I asked my dr if he was going to do a repeat MRI to make sure it was healed and he told me that if we waited for the bone to look normal I would be off running a whole lot longer! YIKES! I still have issues with that foot (my right), but he has diagnosed it as metatarsalgia and a neuroma. My whole right side hates me. LOL!

    Hang in there! I am here if you ever want to vent. ((HUGS))


    • Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement! It’s kind of amazing how much reading the injury part struck me right now. Did you have any problems prior to your SF or are all of these things attributed to that?

      Looking forward to your Idiot’s marathon review!

  2. Find it ironic that the guy on the cover of the book looks like he’s using a heel strike which is exactly what barefoot running urges to change.

    Otherwise, good review of the book. I’ll flip through it at the book store to see if I should pick it up as well.

      • His foot is still off the ground. I’ve seen many pictures of ball of the foot strikers who look like, up until they finally strike, like they are about to heel strike, including myself. Take some video of yourself and see.

  3. I love amigurumi. So cute! (sorry, just had to say that)

    This book sounds interesting–especially the note about having to slow down your routine for 3-12 months in order to really build up the strength to run barefoot. It seems like very few people are really tuned in to the difficulties of barefoot running, and there’s this perception that it really just entails taking your shoes off and running away into the sunset. I wonder how many injuries result from people not being ready for barefoot running and doing it anyway?

    Hopefully you won’t need a 10 week rest period. Maybe it will be closer to just 6! I’ll keep my fingers crossed 🙂

    • Amigurumi is TOTALLY your new hobby, huh? 😉

      Thanks for keeping your fingers crossed for me… I’m about 3 weeks into this so far and I’m DYING to run!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s