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Shoeless Ken Bob

Don Rogers

Who needs shoes anyway? That’s Ken Bob Saxton’s point when he runs barefoot, his answer for orthodics.

Sunday morning, he ran in Eagle’s Run for the Future, barefoot, of course. He finished second among men in the 5K. Kim and Kelly Smith ” a couple of Eagle wunderkinds wearing their shoes ” beat everyone. I hear Kelly is running the Vail Hill Climb and then going to her own wedding. Congratulations, kid. The Hill Climb of 2003 was my final, believe me, running race, and it was brutal! All up. Within the week after that run I tore up cartilege in my right knee playing basketball ” a game requiring good shoes. Although I have played barefoot. The blister potential is high, let me tell you.

But I digress. Ken does not merely run barefoot, he preaches that barefoot running is a key to a better life, or at least better feet. His gospel runs miles, and as a thoroughly modern evangelical, he has a Web site, too. You can check it out at http://www.RunningBarefoot.org/



His basic premise is that man had no need for shoes for millennia, and they still are not needed. Barefoot, we run properly. With orthodics, we tend to pound and land wrong. Go natural and you’ll be fine. That’s Ken’s message in a nutshell. He does fine.

Me, I solve the puzzle by not running unless I’m playing basketball in the gym. Otherwise my workout ” in bare feet, too ” is in the pool.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Here are some excerpts from his home page. As the waiters and shoe sales people say, enjoy:

Running Barefoot:

The chief danger in life is that one may take too many precautions. – Alfred Adler



by Ken Bob Saxton

Many people are in school for the wrong reason. They aren’t always interested in learning what is real. They feel it is more important to respond to the questions on “The Test” with the answers fed to them by the teacher, even when sometimes, those answers don’t make any sense!

I was the kid in school who, maybe didn’t get the best grades, but I read many things, not always the assigned readings (maybe that’s why I didn’t get the best grades). I read anything I found interesting. Encyclopedias, comic books, the Bible, pamphlets, Ivanhoe, telephone books, dictionaries. I actually went to the library to learn things that weren’t being taught in class and weren’t going to be on “The Test”!

I observe things. I like to try to understand how things work. I look at patterns in trees, in the roots, branches, leaves, and in seeds and fruits. I watch living things grow. I watch animals run. I watch things being built. Much to the dismay of my mother, I somtimes took things apart to find out how they worked. I have no problem picturing in my mind electrons orbiting the nucleus of atoms that make up molecules.

I was also the kid, who stood up and told the teacher when they were wrong about something. I knew that Henry Ford had not invented the automobile. I knew when connecting batteries in series, you connected positive to negative. I knew that the current inside the rotor of a direct current motor was alternating (that’s what makes it turn).

These were some of the things that my teachers did not know. Yet students were amazed that I had the courage to stand up and say when I knew something was wrong. Apparently, for most people, the facts aren’t as important as respect for an authority figure. And respect, in this case, meant never asking questions, even when we knew that person to be… well… a person… and, like myself, on occasion to be misinformed. Or perhaps it was that it was simply more simple to just memorize the answers that would be on the test. After all, questioning the given answers just leads to more confusion, doesn’t it?

Some teachers respected my courage, and even came back the next day, after doing THEIR homework, and told the class that I was right. Some teachers laughed at me with the other students. But, I knew when I was right, and that their laughter was as meaningless as the folks who told Columbus that the Earth is flat.

In our youth, we learned that memorizing the accepted answers led to good grades, and our friends would believe us to be intelligent. As supposedly educated adults, we often substitute reporters, and advertisements for the teaching figures of our youth. Because we don’t want to confuse “THE correct” answer by questioning their “authority, we continue to accept whatever “facts” and recommendations drool out of their mouths, especially, when they “quote” “expert” opinions, or “scientific” studies, often sponsored by the businesses trying to sell you a product! We are still rewarded, if not be grades, by our peers who expect that the answers we have, will all match those given to the public through the media. When someone questions these answers, it’s no surprise that we are often ridiculed and laughed at. That is, after all, how we were taught to deal with dissenting opinions in school!

RunningBarefoot.org is dedicated, not just to those who dare to bare their feet and run, But also to anyone who dares to seek the truth. People who realize that the answers the experts give us, aren’t as important as the questions we ask, or whether we ask questions, or the answers that can be observed by opening our minds and our senses. Pay attention to what our feet tell us, and feel the way we run, and we can improve the way we run. Pay attention to our body, mind, and spirit, and what they tell us, and we can improve the way we live.

Shoes are an attempt to disconnect us from the earth and the way we should run, naturally. So wearing shoes while running, not only affects the feet, but everything else in our body, and to some extent, even in the earth. Everything is connected! So beware, if you are afraid to learn, that what you learn from Running Barefoot, may teach you as much about life and the universe, as running.

I went out and bought a pair of 99 dollar running shoes today, the kind with the springs in the heels. The reason is that I have a PT (physical training) test for the USAF tomorrow. I thought that getting a good pair of running shoes was going to help me get a better time, and allow me to be less footsore at the end of my run. Now I gotta be honest with you. I HATE running! I run the 1-1/2 mile in about 14 minutes. When I run, my chest clnches up, my calves are sore, I get shin splints…. Its horrid. But today I laughed long and hard at myself. My grandma used to say that our family has a knack for finding the hardest way to do a simple task, and when I found this website, the truth of it all was too much to bear. I tried running with these expensive shoes today, and got no faster, or more comfortable than with my old, dried up ones. Then I found your website in a search to find out how to run. I knew there must be something I was doing wrong. I got home, I took my shoes off, and tried bouncing up and down from ball to heeal to ball again. Hmm. Feels good… So then I ran up and down the hallway. Ooooh. So here it is. THANK YOU! I havent tried running a long distance yet, but if it feels as natural at 5 miles as it does at 1… I guess it goes to show you that mother nature really DOES know what shes doing.

– Thomas, 2005 April 4

Chances are, someone, sometime, someplace, yelled at you to, “PUT YOUR SHOES ON!”

Apparently a lot of people in the United States have been listening to this advice. We spend an estimated $26 billion a year imprisoning our feet . . . and another $28 billion in attempts to relieve the resulting pains!

Wait a minute! I thought shoes were supposed to be protecting our feet from damage, from the pounding of running, from abrasion against our skin, from pain? And perhaps they do, somewhat. Shoes ARE an attempt to protect us from the WAY we run, WHILE we are wearing shoes.

The worst thing that ever happened to feet was shoes–or perhaps the second worst after concrete The two products of urban civilization have finally conquered the human foot, which in it’s primitive state, crossed continents, pursued wild game and danced for days on end. – George Sheehan

Throughout prehistoric times, shoes, where they actually existed, were worn only by people who had servants run their errands. Humans who weren’t pampered, walked and ran for hours every day. And their feet did not fail them. Without shoes, cars, or prefab housing these “primitive” people found the time and energy, not just to survive, but also to bare and raise children. The fact that we are here today is proof that normal feet, which the vast majority of us inherited from those ancestors, are perfectly adequate! Once we accept that humans can live and even thrive without the high tech protection provided by shoes. Once we begin to question what has been pounded into our brains by commercials, and parents who were indoctrinated by commercials, it becomes essential to think for ourselves. click for larger image

Many of us grew up running barefoot, loving it. Later we started wearing shoes everywhere and soon our feet became soft and weak, and infested with fungus and other harmful organisms. Soon our memories of the joy and freedom of running barefoot faded away. We became addicted to shoes, NEEDING them, not just in harsh environments. Some people can no longer walk across their carpet without shoes! That is either a severe dependency or a really bad carpet. The addiction can be overcome. I have cast off my own shoes and prove it to myself and others everyday. I am my own guinea pig. I don’t believe in testing my theories on innocent animals. Most animals run barefoot all the time, so, essentially the animal testing is finished anyway.

When we succeed in blocking sensation in our feet, we will learn to run like senseless klutzes. – Ken Bob Saxton

We often overestimate the risk of something percieved as radical and underestimate the pleasure. Or if we think it is pleasant, we say that we shouldn’t do it because it is a sin. Then why did GOD insist that Moses and Joshua remove their shoes before allowing them to approach? Going barefoot is a way of getting closer, not further, from the truth!

It is very rarely indeed that sharp objects cut Ken Bob Saxton’s feet while running. Ken Bob Saxton’s feet after running over and breaking a piece of glass. Sometimes the glass looses!

But, what happens when we start running barefoot, without all that high-priced, high-tech, designer protection?

Let your feet feel the ground and they will teach you to run. – Ken Bob Saxton

Our own two bare feet, with those pesky nerves in our soles, the same nerves that make our feet ticklish and sensitive, tell us NOT to bang our feet into the ground when we run and walk. They do more than just tell us. They can be downright insistant! Instead of trying to protect us from pounding, running barefoot teaches us to run WITHOUT POUNDING, so we don’t need hi-tech protection!

26 BILLION DOLLARS! To prevent our feet from touching the ground, from feeling the ground. To prevent our feet from teaching us to run without the impact that is causing, not only foot damage, but chronic knee and back pains that are common, ONLY in shoe-addicted cultures!

Running Barefoot isn’t a “cure-all” for our pains and troubles and boredom. Some of that is the result of our own attitudes toward life, but that’s another story. At the very least, running barefoot removes the shoes that lead to most of our foot problems! Problems that only exist in societies addicted to wearing shoes. Running Barefoot does allow our feet to grow strong and healthy, instead of weak and smelly. And Running Barefoot does allow us to feel HOW we are running, instead of trying to control how we run, so that we can learn to run with less impact, and with less chronic and crippling damage caused by impact, which is the direct result of not being able to feel HOW we run.

Risks? Sure there are risks. But, you may find, like many of us, that the risks are blown way out of proportion. After all, life is risky, but that’s no reason to stop living. Running with shoes is, in so many ways, far more risky than running barefoot. It isn’t running barefoot that allows us to run with so much impact that we are blowing our knees and back out at epidemic rates! It is NOT running barefoot that causes our feet to blister and our toenails to fall off after running marathons! It is not running barefoot that provides a dark, warm, moist environment for fungus to thrive! It is not running barefoot that reshapes our bones to allow our feet to fit inside fashionable shoes!

So take off your shoes! Set your feet free! Give your feet a chance to grow strong and healthy. Life is too short to let our feet suffocate inside shoes. If you want to learn to run better, more naturally, more smoothly; If you want healthy and happy feet. “TAKE YOUR SHOES OFF!” Explore the world outside of your house, outside of your car, and outside of your shoes. You may find that running can be more stimulating and more exhilarating than you ever imagined!

-barefoot ken bob

by Ken Bob Saxton (2004 December 14)


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