Folklore of Going Sockless

1 Comment June 3, 2007 / Posted in Running Form & Style

Folklore of Going Sockless: The Result of a Dialogue with Madeleine Page and
Miles Lakin back in 2000

Running sockless can be of great help in learning to run with proper form and style. When the shoe and the foot are moving over the ground at the same rate of speed, there is minimal or no friction. When the toes stop clawing while running there are fewer black toenails and blisters around the toes.

From my thoughts to follow, you might want to play with not wearing socks. Going sockless would allow you to possibly go down a shoe size to get a snugger fit in the heel. Over the years, I’ve used the Lydiard lacing (start at the bottom both down the hole. One side up the hole same side up one hole, the other up the hole same side two holes. From there straight across, down the hole, up the hole two holes same side.) It allows me to tighten the upper part of the laces to keep the heel snugged in and allow for the other lower part of the laces to be looser.

Anyway this is what I wrote a while back:

I’ve been sockless over 20 years. Art Justice a long time running friend has been sockless for about 10 years after losing first place in his age division by 30 seconds in a triathlon…the time it took to put on his socks before putting on his shoes.

I use Spenco neophrene insoles. They are the ones without any of the various supports or arch cookies that they glue on. Just the old flat 1/8″ thin cut out. I change those like you would change socks.

My thinking way back then was that if my foot and the inside of the shoe are moving at the same rate and I am not overstriding/decelerating , then the foot/shoe interface will not be creating any friction. If there is no friction then there will be no blisters. So in the 50+ marathons run that way, blisters have been minimal.

My folklore holds that tip of the toe blisters and black toenails are more from clawing with the toes…something a majority of people do when they run because it’s the neuromuscular habit they practice all he time when standing.

Stand…lean forward as far as you can. You will see what I mean by clawing with the toes so you won’t fall. Now you get an idea why people have hammertoes. So in running you imagine you don’t have any toes and you’ll find that you now bend at the ball of the foot/toe joint. Now stand and lean forward ever so slightly from the ankle and keep you body erect. Now with an image of having no toes and being unable to claw, you begin to realize that running is falling and catching yourself gracefully with each and every step you take.

Back to sockless. When breaking in shoes be sure that you wear the shoes around the house for about 1 week. Run a mile or two around your neighborhood in the shoes. Often blobs of hardened glue had literally wear a hole into your foot within a mile or 2. A piece of laser cut nylon that is part of the tongue of the shoe can cut like a razor. An inside seam that is double stitched can bore into the side or top of the foot at mile 4 and you don’t even feel it until you see the red spot growing on your new running shoes.

Use Bag Balm lightly rubbed onto the foot for the 3 to 5 mile runs the first few times to guard against any of the imperfections of the inside of the shoe. It may take some delicate surgery of the seams or glue or…to remove the problem. Sockless you find out so much more quickly where the trouble spots are. Socks mask the problem until you’re out on a long run and the cushion of the sock is diminished by sweat or the spot wears through the sock and attacks your flesh.

Running sockless is one of the better ways to become aware of your form and style. If you find yourself getting hot spots on the bottom of the foot, you can examine how you land to see where or how the friction is being created. Sometimes it helps to put a very light coat of bag balm on the bottoms of your feet before slipping them sockless into your shoes. Bag Balm…always a friction fighter.

Sorry Thorlo…sorry sock companies…Actually all the stuff I said above can be disregarded if your folklore is different or if you like to invest in socks and sock companies. Remember folklore is something that works for you. If my folklore doesn’t work for you, don’t give it the time of day and zero emotional energy. Find someone’s folklore that works for you and use it. Better yet, create your own and share it with others to see if it works for them like it works for you.

Remember I am speaking of sockless only for running. I do wear socks when I play tennis or basketball or any lateral movement sport….unless you’ve got something to teach me.

1 Comment... What do you think? Subscribe via RSS
  1. do you do it in socks? « Cheaper Than Therapy said on June 10th, 2010 at 12:21 am

    […] the minimalist approach these days, running sockless and/or running in lightweight road flats. And this dude says he’s been running marathons without socks for 20 years. So, what the hell, I says! […]

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