Martin Hewitt will be sharing barefoot running information, tips, and experiences on Sat., Nov. 17 at the Philadelphia Marathon Health & Fitness Expo. For a full list of speakers and times visit www.philadelphiamarathon.com.
Prior to suffering a calf injury in 2010, Martin Hewitt would hardly have imagined he would be planning to run barefoot at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon.
Martin – a 53-year-old lawyer from East Brunswick, New Jersey — converted to barefoot running after injuring his foot and reading the classic running book Born to Run.
The transformation to barefoot running
Before his injury, Martin was an experienced and enthusiastic runner. A series of family deaths experienced in his early thirties served as a wakeup call to live an active and healthy lifestyle.
“I’ve run nine marathons,” says Martin. “I’ve been a pretty good runner since I started. Doing a casual six-mile run several years ago with my son, I just couldn’t finish. Something wasn’t right. I took a couple of months off. During that time I read Born to Run. I remember I tried running barefoot 15-years-ago on a gym treadmill. I felt great after a mile but I never continued with barefoot running because nobody did that back then.”
With two months to heal and reflect, the ideas presented in Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run continued circulating through Martin’s head. Beginning February 7, 2011 Martin returned to running. Only this time his traditional morning run was completely barefoot.
A new running experience
Martin’s transformation from traditional to barefoot running was admittedly humbling.
“The first week of running consisted of one-mile split into two runs of a half mile each,” says Martin. “I alternated between running and walking.”
Slow and deliberate practice running helped to create a much easier barefoot running experience.
“The key is to start slow,” says Martin. “Start from scratch. It took a long time to build up to. I started barefoot running almost two years ago and it was a struggle at first. After that everything got easier.”
Barefoot running vs. traditional running
Now an experienced barefoot runner, Martin is often asked from people he meets while running and speaking about the activity what the primary difference is between the two styles of running.
“The primary difference is you are getting more feedback from your feet,” says Martin. “I often equate this with listening to music. You don’t put cotton in your ears when you listen to music because you want to hear clearly as possible. With barefoot running you’re more in touch with the road when your feet aren’t covered.”
Martin also boasts more benefits of barefoot running:
- You get instant feedback from your feet if you’re running incorrectly.
- Barefoot running doesn’t tolerate poor running form. Running shoes often force people to strike the road with their heel first. Barefoot running reminds you to use the ball of your foot.
- Running barefoot means you’re not landing on your foot. More accurately you’re lifting your foot up.
The 2011 Philadelphia Half Marathon was Martin’s first time running 13.1 miles completely barefoot. Martin’s experience was unforgettable.
“I recall finishing the half marathon when a full marathon runner also crossed the finish line,” said Martin. “The full marathon runner looked down at my shoeless feet and said with laughter ‘you win.’”
This year Martin is a scheduled speaker at the Philadelphia Marathon Health & Fitness Expo. The Health & Fitness Expo – free and open to the public – is located at the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th & Arch Streets, 2nd Floor, Hallway “A”. Martin will speak about his experience barefoot running and give tips. Martin is scheduled to speak Satudary, Nov. 17 at 1PM.
Martin will also be running his second half marathon on Sunday, November 18 at the 19th annual Philadelphia Marathon. The journey from the start line at 22 Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the finish will be amazing.
“I was running through Philadelphia last month when I was in town for a wedding and it’s very comfortable,” Martin says. “Philadelphia has one of the best marathons and half marathons out there and I can’t wait.”