Jan | 25

Barefoot Running: An Open Letter from Brooks CEO Jim Weber


Brooks CEO Jim Weber

Brooks CEO Jim Weber

An Open Letter to the Running Community ,

For many of us, running is an inseparable part of our lives—we need it. When we run, we improve our health, relieve stress, achieve personal goals, compete, raise money, and have fun. On any given weekend, check out a running event in any city across the globe and you’ll be inspired by runners spanning ages, speeds, motivations, and goals—each with their own stories. At Brooks, inspiring everyone to run and be active is our reason for being.

Given the passion felt about our sport, it’s easy to understand how everything about the run is actively studied, critiqued, debated, and questioned—including shoes. People strive to run faster, longer, healthier, more efficiently, and injury-free mile after mile, and they’ve traditionally looked to their footwear to deliver that. But many people have recently questioned whether running barefoot is better, so we feel it’s time for Brooks to join the public dialogue.

Let’s call a spade a spade. We make running shoes: High-quality, biomechanically mapped, performance running shoes calibrated for runners’ unique needs. We hope runners buy our shoes and we’re confident they’ll enjoy them. But this isn’t about selling shoes. And, quite frankly, this isn’t even about running barefoot.

So what are we talking about here? First and foremost, we’re all talking about running, and that’s a great thing because we believe to our core that running is a positive force in our world. We want everyone to run and be happy. But to get there, whether you should run barefoot is not the great debate. We are all unique. The focus should be on how you run and train, and then finding the right shoe that addresses your unique biomechanical needs. “The Perfect Ride for Every Stride,” as we say at Brooks. Let’s look at a snapshot of the running population:

  • At one end of the spectrum, we know there are runners who lack foot strength leading to severe pronation. They may strike heavily and need a great deal of support to run injury- and pain-free. We hear repeatedly from them that the Brooks Beast “saved their lives.”
  • At the other end of the spectrum are the biomechanically blessed (and/or conditioned through training) who have natural healthy gaits and enjoy great efficiency. These gazelles may wear shoes, they may not.
  • The vast majority of runners (including this middle-of-the-packer !) fall in between. And for us, we strongly believe most of our mileage should be logged in a performance running shoe, not barefoot . For us, supportive, cushioned footwear is not only beneficial, it also plays an essential role in delivering a comfortable, injury-free running experience.

Elsewhere on our Web site, you’ll find a robust discussion on this topic (or you can view it as a downloadable PDF here ) from our Brooks footwear team. We also asked people we respect in the running industry to chime in with their perspectives on the barefoot running discussion. These experts include accomplished runners, coaches, researchers, doctors, and specialty running retailers, who see more runners (and their feet) each week than many of us see in a lifetime.

Join us in this conversation and be active in your decisions. We were all born to run. But the ultimate goal, of course, is to keep running for the long haul.

Run Happy,

Jim Weber

Jim Weber
President & CEO
Brooks Sports, Inc.