The article “Running barefoot cushions impact of forces on foot” (SN: 02/27/10, p. 14) says a lot about whether running barefoot is or isn’t healthier than running shod. Has anyone looked into which is faster?
Henry Jones, Baton Rouge, La.
“No,” responds Daniel Lieberman, a professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard University. But he does note that Abebe Bikila set a world record for the marathon at the 1960 Rome Olympics running barefoot. And Zola Budd set quite a few records running middle distances barefoot. “There is no theoretical reason why barefoot runners are necessarily slower,” he says. “Further, slight differences in speed are probably irrelevant from an evolutionary perspective. Humans evolved to make animals gallop in the heat, not to win races.” — Laura Sanders