What is Natural Running/Walking
Education and Training
Tell me about your Running Group
Q: Will I be pressured to convert to natural running/walking if I visit your store?
A: Never! Runners and walkers of all types and abilities can rest assured that our store atmosphere is laid back and low pressure. Although we are passionate in love for natural running, we understand it’s not for everyone and will never pressure others to share our beliefs. If, after learning about natural running/walking and having your questions answered, you aren’t ready to “convert”, we will do our best to refer you to someone who can better meet your running and walking needs.
Q: What brands of shoes do you sell?
A: Our brands include Altra, Inov-8, VIVOBAREFOOT, Kigo, STEM, Newton, GoLite, ZEMgear, Somnio, and more! View our online catalog or visit our retail store in Northampton, MA.
Q: What types of shoes do you sell?
A: We sell four levels of natural running/walking shoes: Neutral Transition Shoes for people who are new to natural running and/or who are injured, Minimalist Running and Walking Shoes for people who have some natural running/walking experience and are ready for a shoe with less support, Barefoot Style Shoes for experienced natural runners/walkers who want little to no support, and Barefoot Lifestyle Shoes for work and play.
Q: How will I know which shoes to buy?
A: Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will help you decide which shoes are best for you based on your current activity level, your experience with natural running/walking, and your short- and long- term training goals.
Q: Why don’t you carry traditional running/walking shoes?
A: Manufacturers who make traditional running/walking shoes design them with a great deal of support and motion control with the goal of limiting the natural movement of your foot (pronation, supination, etc.). Manufacturers who make natural running/walking shoes design them without a great deal of support in order to allow your feet to move naturally. We believe that the support built into traditional shoes is ultimately responsible for many of the common injuries that runners and walkers suffer from. For this reason, we only carry natural running/walking shoes.
Q: You’re a running and walking store…so why do you carry casual shoes?
A: Many people find that once they’ve transitioned to natural running and walking and get used to wearing minimal shoes, it’s uncomfortable to wear shoes with stiff soles, elevated heels, and constrictive materials. We hear you! Our line of casual shoes makes wearing casual and “work-appropriate” shoes feel like wearing slippers! You’ll never want to wear anything else!
Q: Do you carry anything other than shoes?
A: Yes. We also carry a variety of socks designed especially for natural running/walking as well as gear, apparel, and hydration equipment. Of course, we can always special order any shoe for you!
Q: Do you carry children’s shoes?
A: There are a few models of natural-type shoes available for children and if we find that there is enough customer interest, we will continue to add them to our line of products. Contact us if interested.
Q: Do you offer gift cards?
A: Yes! You can purchase Good for the Soles gift cards in our online store or by visiting our store in Northampton, MA. Our online store does not currently accept gift cards as a form of payment, but you can always redeem them by emailing us at email@example.com or by calling us at (413) 727-3188 during business hours.
Q: Do you have a rewards program?
A: Yes – the Barefoot Bucks Rewards Program was developed to show our appreciation to our most loyal customers. As a member, for every $150.00 you spend, you'll earn $10.00 in Barefoot Bucks! Come to the store to sign up or contact us to have a form emailed or mailed to you.
Q: What is natural running/walking?
A: Natural running/walking is a method that embraces the natural stride that you were born with. Ever been told that you’re a pronator or a supinator and therefore should wear athletic shoes to control and support these motions? Natural running/walking encourages these motions, rather than trying to inhibit them. The natural motion of a mid-foot strike utilizes your body’s natural shock absorbers whereas a heel-strike motion forces your bones and joints, which were never meant to absorb shock, to take the brunt of the impact. The natural running/walking method requires less energy (making running fun for a change!) and reduces the incidence of common running injuries such as shin splits and “runner’s knee”.
Q: I hear so many different terms. What’s the difference between natural, minimalist and barefoot running?
A: Many of these terms are synonymous. Simply put, they are methods that involve running/walking with a stride that is in line with your body’s natural instincts in which you wear footwear with as little support as is safe for your level of experience. In the case of barefoot running, you don’t wear footwear at all!
Q: Why is natural running/walking becoming so popular?
A: As more and more runners and walkers develop injuries such as shin splits, “runner’s knee”, illiotibial band issues, and plantar fasciitis, researchers and scientists around the world are finding that it’s not running and walking that is the problem, it’s that the ultra-supportive shoes we run and walk in have caused us our muscles to atrophy and our natural form to deteriorate! Runners, especially, who land with a heel-first-strike subject their bones and joints to a tremendous amount of stress, causing many of the aforementioned injuries. Runners who employ a natural stride, such as the Kenyans and Ethiopians who consistently triumph over runners from other countries, use energy more efficiently (thereby increasing their speed and endurance) and have less injuries. Natural running/walking is not new – we’re just finally catching on!
Q: I have an injury. Is it safe for me to try natural running/walking?
A: Yes, within reason. Natural running/walking is the perfect way for athletes suffering from common running injuries to strengthen and heal their muscles while developing a more natural form that will greatly reduce the chances of these injuries reoccurring. However, as with any injury, you must always listen to your body. If it hurts, you’re either not ready or need to continue to tweak your form.
Q: What if I decide that natural running/walking isn’t for me?
A: If, after trying the natural running/walking method, you find that you’re not enjoying running/walking with a natural stride and that it doesn’t enhance your running/walking experiences, then it may be the wrong time or it may not be for you. Transforming your stride takes time and commitment and must be done gradually to avoid injury. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out – perhaps you’ll give it another try down the road when you have more time and effort available.
Q: Do I ever have to run barefoot?
A: No. The important thing is to learn the barefoot running style. Although many people thoroughly enjoy going barefoot, many natural runners prefer not to because of the innate hazards that this method brings (glass, rocks, insects, etc.). They choose, instead to run in “barefoot-style” footwear that mimics barefoot running as closely as possible. It’s a very personal decision that can enhance your training, but it’s not necessary in order to become a true natural runner!
Q: What method do you use in your training?
A: At Good for the Soles, we endorse and teach ChiRunning and ChiWalking, a natural method that employs a mid-foot strike and enhances the overall experience by helping you tune in to what your body is trying to tell you. Obtaining ChiRunning/ChiWalking certification is a rigorous process that requires many hours of research, practice, and instruction. Owner Jill Murphy, a certfied ChiRunning/ChiWalking instructor, teaches ChiRunning and ChiWalking onsite! Anyone can give you their opinion and advice on how to learn the natural running/walking form, but with a ChiRunning/ChiWalking instructor, you can rest assured that you’re learning from the best!
Q: I’ve heard that there are other methods similar to ChiRunning/ChiWalking. What’s the difference?
A: It is true that there are other natural running/walking methods out there so you may wonder what made us choose ChiRunning/ChiWalking as our technique of choice. Similar methods include Pose and Evolution and employ many of the same principles. The differences, which are few, lie mainly in the amount and types of muscles employed, but the similarities are many. All of these methods encourage the use of gravity, involve a forefoot or midfoot strike, and call for a shoe with less support. In the end, we chose to offer ChiRunning/ChiWalking because the techniques are easy to learn and can be easily adapted by runners and walkers of all abilities.
Q: Will ChiRunning/ChiWalking be hard for me to learn?
A: ChiRunning/ChiWalking is one of the easiest natural techniques to pick up, but, as with anything new, requires patience and commitment. It may feel awkward at first, but most workshop participants feel the difference by the end of our time together and are able to use what they’ve learned immediately. The transition should be done gradually to avoid injury and if done properly will be a joy to learn and practice. Additionally, often times what makes the difference between something being easy and difficult to learn is the person teaching it! Owner Jill Murphy is not only a certified ChiRunning instructor and avid minimalist runner, but she also brings with her many years of teaching experience. Her math students and ChiRunning/ChiWalking students agree that she has a way of teaching that makes anything easy to learn, be it algebra or natural running!
Q: Is it possible to learn ChiRunning/ChiWalking from the books and videos instead?
A: ChiLiving, the company that started ChiRunning/ChiWalking markets books and videos that offer a wealth of information. Our recommendation is that the books and videos be used as tools to compliment participation in a ChiRunning/ChiWalking workshop. The books and videos, if read before attending a workshop, make mastering the technique faster and easier and can also be used as a valuable reference after the workshop is over. The main benefit of attending a workshop lies in the immediate and valuable feedback that you will receive from the instructor, something a book or video cannot provide. The ChiLiving books and videos are not a requirement, but will definitely enhance your learning process.
Q: There’s a lot of websites that tell you how to run/walk naturally and some even include videos. Can I try learning on my own?
A: The Internet is a valuable tool and we recommend its use for increasing your understanding of natural running/walking and the wealth of research-based evidence that supports it. We do not recommend, however, relying entirely on any print or video resource due to the absence of a qualified instructor’s feedback, but instead recommend it as a compliment to workshop training. Knowledge is power and Internet research will make your transition to natural running/walking smoother and easier. A live workshop will help ensure that you do it correctly and safely.
Q: Who are the Solerunners?
A: The Western Massachusetts Minimalist and Barefoot Running Meetup Group, whose members affectionately call themselves the Solerunners, is a group dedicated to bringing runners and walkers of all abilities together to learn from one another, share in their triumphs and setbacks, and make exercising more fun! We sponsor fun runs, races, and group runs on a regular basis and use these runs to promote the benefits of a natural stride and share our love of natural running/walking with others. Visit the Solerunner's Meetup Group homepage to sign-up!
Q: What if I can’t commit to attending all events?
A: No worries! Join us as often or as seldom as your schedule and preferences allow. We don’t care how often you join us – we just want you to join us!
Q: What if I am not as fast as some of the other runners?
A: Our group invites runners and walkers of all ability levels to join, regardless of their level natural running/walking experience. The spirit of the group is one of community and we support each other at every event. The Solerunners don’t typically come to events to make personal bests or beat time records – they come for the camaraderie!
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