Customer Reviews

52
4.2 out of 5 stars
Natural Running: The Simple Path to Stronger, Healthier Running
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:$14.99 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

71 of 76 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I got into "natural running" a couple years ago after being sick of being injured all the time and dealing with shin splints, ITB syndrome, and a myriad of other problems. I started with a combination of straight barefoot running, and running in Vibram Fivefingers Bikila Shoe, and got a stress fracture after a couple months that kept me out of running for a year. I wish I had read Abshire's book first, because I could have avoided that problem.

The concept of natural running deals mainly with landing on your midfoot/forefoot when you strike the ground, rather than your heel. The first half of the book explains why a heel strike is bad, and why you should change your form. I run into a lot of resistance when I tell people I'm a barefoot runner, mostly from the belief that you need 2 inches of cushioning under your foot to prevent injury, and secondly that you need to protect the bottom of your feet. The book does an excellent job of debunking the first claim. I have run thousands of miles in shoes and was already committed to natural running before getting the book, however reading it just gave me a much better understanding of the practice and makes me more confident in my decision to move away from cushioned shoes. A lot of it I was familiar with and are the same old points (landing on your heel is effectively a braking motion, landing on your heel transfers all the impact of your weight to your knees, etc), but there is a lot of original stuff in this book too.

Once Abshire has convinced you that heel striking is bad, he then looks at proper natural running form. Getting rid of your traditional running shoes is one thing, but what many people who run barefoot or in minimalist shoes overlook, is that you also have to use proper form. This is critical for a successful transition and the main reason I got a stress fracture. Abshire discusses some of the main points, such as keeping your arms at 90 degrees, leaning your body forward to the point where you feel like you're about to fall over, and increasing your cadence (the amount of times your feet hit the ground).

The last part of the book provides a training plan for the complete beginner, along with form exercises designed to strengthen your feet and improve your form. Don't gloss over these! Although it may seem maddening to go from running 25-50 miles a week, to 2 miles a week, it is critical to start slowly to build up your feet, and more importantly, to make sure you are using proper form. If you get used to running with bad form you won't ever correct it. The first few weeks you start out you have to make a conscious effort to run with good form, and to always lean forward and increase your cadence. At first, it will seem like you are expending a ton of energy to do this and to turn your feet over so quickly, and it will feel anything but "natural," but after a couple months your body will get used to it and you won't even think about it. Most people should strive for a running stride of around 180 steps per minute, meaning your feet actually hit the ground 180 times in 60 seconds. The best way to do this is to download an mp3 of 180 beats per minute (search the Internet for "180 bpm mp3" and put it on a loop). This is one of the hardest aspects to get used to but one of the best for reducing injury. The book provides some great form drills for increasing foot strength. You may be tempted to skip these but if you don't have any other strength training plan for your feet, that would be a mistake. Years of wearing traditional shoes has made most people's feet weak and atrophied. Walk around barefoot every chance you get. If you need dressy shoes for your job, look into companies like Terra Plana that make minimalist shoes.

As a disclaimer, the author does sell his own minimalist shoes by his company, Newton Running. I have never worn his shoes, preferring the more natural feeling of my Vibram Fivefingers, but this fact may appear that he has an agenda. Even though he mentions his shoes a few times in the book, it never felt heavy-handed and it doesn't seem like he is trying to use the book to sell shoes. He is slightly critical of completely barefoot running and recommends against it unless using it for form practice on soft grass, but I would say he gives it a fair critique. His main problem with it is that same old idea that your are going to cut your foot or run over pebbles. While this is a possibility, it is not nearly as big a deal as people make it out to be. I live in an urban area and I have never cut my foot and almost never have a problem running on my city streets, especially once my feet got conditioned to the pavement and stopped being so sensitive. It even feels good to feel pebbles and different substances under my feet occasionally. But if you want a barefoot feel with some protection, try the Vibram line of shoes.

My one problem with the book is the author's training plan. I feel that it is way too advanced. His plan is 8 weeks long, but has you doing a 15 minute easy run by week 2. There is no way someone new to natural running should be doing 1.5 miles by their second week. In my opinion, you should spend around 5 weeks or more before you are up to that kind of mileage. I know that sounds crazy to people used to doing 20 mile long runs, but you are effectively re-learning how to run, and your feet will not be strong enough for that kind of mileage after just two weeks. If you want to be safe and avoid injury, take each of his weeks and repeat them three times. So you will spend 3 weeks on his "week 1," then move to his "week 2" and do that for three weeks. Or just gradually increase the increments you're running by 20% each week. Yes, this is a very slow way to do it, but it ensures more time to learn form and condition your feet. Below is my personal training plan I modified from his. Just replace his running days with mine and continue to do form and strength drills on off days. All my runs involve 5:00 walking warmup and 5:00 walking cool down:

Week 1
Tuesday - 10 min total - 100m (.07 miles) walk/run repeats
Thursday - 10 min 100m walk/run repeats
Saturday - 10 min 100m walk/run repeats

Week 2
Tuesday - 15 min 100m walk/150m run repeats
Thursday - 15 min 100m walk/150m run repeats
Saturday - 15 min 100m walk/150m run repeats

Week 3
Tuesday - 20 min 100m walk/250m run repeats
Thursday - 20 min 100m walk/250m run repeats
Saturday - 20 min 100m walk/250m run repeats

Week 4
Tuesday - 25 min 100m walk/250m run repeats
Thursday - 25 min 100m walk/250m run repeats
Saturday - 25 min 100m walk/250m run repeats

Week 5
Tuesday - 10 min easy run
Thursday - 25 min 100m walk/250m run repeats
Saturday - 10 min easy run

Week 6 (this is basically the same week as the book's week 2)
Tuesday - 15 min easy run
Thursday - 30 min 100m walk/.25 mile run repeats
Saturday - 15 min easy run

Week 7
Tuesday - 15 min easy run
Thursday - 30 min 100m walk/.25 mile run repeats
Saturday - 15 min easy run

Week 8 (Starting here, do the exact same program as week 3 in the book)
Tuesday - 20 min easy run
Thursday - 20 min easy run
Saturday - 20 min easy run

Week 9 - From here, just start with Week 4 from the book and follow Abshire's plan for the remaining 4 weeks. This will have you up to 45 minutes of running by the end of week 13, which I still feel is possibly moving a bit fast, so if you like, you can start with week 4 from the book here, and just do every week twice.

I feel like the above is a fairly conservative plan that will minimize the chance for injury while allowing your feet to get strong. If you combine it with the form and strength drills from the book, and go barefoot every chance you get, you should be in proper condition to start running seriously as a natural runner within 4 months. I know that sounds like a long time if you're currently a long distance runner, but the advantages you will get from it are worth the wait.

Update May 2012: If you're going to start running barefoot, I would suggest the Denco Easy Grip Professional Foot Smoother ~ Callus Shaver ~ w/Lifetime Warranty for taking care of your feet. I use it a couple times a week to keep my feet from looking like Christopher McDonald's and it is a great investment.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book really explains what happens with your body when you walk and run. It goes into different gait types, different types of feet, common foot irregularities, and running form drills, then sets out a sample training plan.

Thus far, I've only read this book, ChiRunning, and Born to Run. The last really isn't a "How-To" book, but it still contains quite a bit of information. ChiRunning has a pretty cover, but you really have to sift through all the explanations of "Chi" to get to the running bit, and even then, it describes a running motion that seems unnatural. From page 1, Natural Running gives sound science-based explanations for how to run. Succinct, to the point.

Disclaimer: Natural Running is written by the founder of Newton Shoes, but there are very few references to it here. Abshire doesn't suggest that his shoes are the only, or even the best way to run with a natural gait. He mentions the Nike Free somewhat disparagingly, saying that it still has a rather raised heel, but mentions that nearly every other company is developing shoes aimed at a more barefoot feel.

The book does argue against completely barefoot running as a main training method, especially on pavement and trails, saying that the risk of cuts and stress fractures is too high. It does, however, suggest running barefoot on grass and other natural surfaces. Here in the Boston area, where pretty much every block has broken glass, I want _some_ protection, darnit.

Nice to know those form exercises I learned back in high school track really do work!
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 14, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I got this book after reading Born to Run, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (Vintage) which I highly recommend. I have always had IT band issues when I run, so a new approach to running was just what I needed. I'm still in the transition to natural running, so I can't say whether or not it works, but so far so good! Natural Running discusses proper running technique as well as drill and workouts to help with the transition. This part of the book is great. The part I didn't like is it seems that on every page the author, Danny Abshire, goes off about how running shoe companies are responsible for the downfall of running form and then he manages to put in plugs for his own shoe company (Newton Running). By the time I finished the book, I'd heard about how "evil" traditional shoes are and how much better shoes like Newton's are at least 20 times. I got the point after the first or second time. I would have also liked if he included more recommendations on shoes, especially with all the natural running choices available now. If you get this book to learn natural running, I would recommend just reading the technique and work out parts. If you read through it start to finish, you'll notice a lot of repetition.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
38 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2010
Format: Paperback
I am not a runner. I chose this book to improve my WALKING and stair climbing. I am about half way through and immediately began applying the suggested form changes and immediately my knees stopped hurting.

I have just bought 4 more copies to give as Christmas presents.

I am 63 years old and not an athlete.

If you are able to run, you should read this book.

If you are able to walk, you should read this book,

Learn how to stop hurting yourself.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a very short book that could serve as a good intro for anyone looking into minimalism and forefoot/barefoot running, especially for the impatient readers due to its quick and dirty approach. The drills with pictures are very good and the short history on running shoes is unique. Despite being the cofounder of the running shoes company Newton, there aren't a lot of self-promotion or product-pushing (Unlike Dreyer's "ChiRunning"). The biggest flaw is that for the same price, you could probably get more in-depth books - "Natural Running" is like a collection of short essays rather than a cohesive book. Furthermore, if you already read other minimalism/barefoot books, then "Natural Running" would feel redundant and you should definitely skip this.

For alternatives, check out:
"POSE Method Running" - Forefoot strike advocate and also very good contents for drills and flex, from Dr. Romanov who has extensive coaching and sports research background. "ChiRunning" - An eastern/spiritual midfoot-strike approach aka "Needle in the Cotton"/Body-Sensing with lots of beginner tips for all aspects of running, from a big running coach. "Barefoot Running Step by Step" - a feel good, simple and easy book from the purist/diehard famous barefoot guru. "The Triathlete's Guide to Run Training" - not as well known as POSE/ChiRunning but also interesting minimalism 'Evolution Running' camp, a very precise/methodical/scientific approach to training for those moving beyond the entry-level.

In sum, "Natural Running" is not a bad book but not the best bang for the buck.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is so useful, for any runner at any level. Not only does the author go into great detail about the biomechanics of the foot, and reasons for common running injuries, but he also provides a solution by explaining the basics of natural running form (the way our bodies are meant to run), offering detailed drills, instructions, and an 8-week transition plan. If you're looking to make the transition to natural running but don't know how to get there, this book provides detailed step-by-step instructions to walk you through it. And once you've made that transition, I'll bet you'll notice some great results in your running!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The book is high on detail about the advent of the modern running shoe and its transformation from a fairly minimal racing flat-style shoe (think Adidas Country, for those of you old enough to remember) in the early '70s to the cruise ship-styled multi-tiered monstrosities of the early '90s (think Brooks The Beast) to present day. As befits a man who made custom orthotics for athletes and eventually founded his own line of running shoes, which are truly different from anything else on the market. Interspersed are insightful observations about the ill-effects on the body of overly padded, overly stabilizing shoes, and how the yin of the more is better thinking culminated in the yang of the current trend toward minimal footwear, either in the form of Vibram Five Fingers, glorified racing flats, or--the ultimate in minimalism--the barefoot running movement. Abshire advocates a middle ground. Neither overly shod nor barefoot (though he likes barefoot running as a learning tool, in small doses). Of course, reading the book made me want to buy his shoes. I resisted and kept reading. He offers the basic advice on efficient running form distilled from, among other sources, the Pose Method and Chi Running. Either of those books are far more detailed and useful for learning this style of running, which emphasizes short strides, rapid cadence, and the use of gravity rather than pushing off. If you want detailed info on the mechanics and how to learn them, go with Romanov (Pose) or Dreyer (Chi), or one of the excellent barefoot running books like Barefoot Running Step by Step or Barefoot Running by Sandler. In other words, if you're looking for a first book on changing your running style, this would not be the best choice. But if you're interested in the evolution of the currently popular running style (or its return to popularity), and the way the running shoe business has influenced the way we run and, perhaps, the way we runners tend to get injured, as well gaining valuable tips on form, this is superb.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I am a proponent of the forefoot/barefoot/minimalist running, and I bought this book hoping to expand upon and refine my technique. I have to say, though, I was pretty disappointed in the book's content. Most of the book is spent talking about the injuries caused by heel striking and the "horrors" of modern running footwear. The author also seems to spend a considerable amount of time promoting his own shoe and orthotics brand. So little time is spent in the actual mechanics and form of "natural" running as to make it worthless. Even most of the exercises presented are generic and of arguable value.
One thing I did appreciate was the sections on foot anatomy and physiology, the nervous system in the foot and the balance issues that arise. Overall, there are better books out there.
Enjoy.
22 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 21, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
One can summarize the whole book in one sentence: you should use your legs as they have developed during the evolution, in other words one should get closer to barefoot running. The book explains the natural lever system of human legs and why the cushioned and heeled `typical` running shoes change that into something potentially harmful for ones joints and spine. I think this is crucial for professionals, but also helps the amateur runners to make their mood raising jogging much more enjoyable and healthier.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2013
Format: Paperback
The book.is a broken record repeating the same few ideas over and over. Moreover little attention is actually given to how one natural running really does fare on concrete. The labs use treadmills. The running studies use engineered tracks. I'm left with this: try to land just forward of midfoot. The conceptual content of the book could be rendered on an index card. The emperor apparently has no shoes.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.