‘Barefoot’ Ted McDonald: The Philosophy of Getting Back to Natural

February 29, 2016


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Barefoot Ted McDonald spent over a decade mastering natural running techniques, and is an accomplished athlete known for self-experimentation and testing his natural human capabilities. He is founder and president of LUNA Sandals, the adventure sandal company based in Seattle, and Solowheel Seattle, the one-wheeled urban transporter company he started in 2014.

On this show we learn about the philosophy of what it means to run barefoot and naturally:

  • Ted’s quest to discover primal natural human capacities. What does that entail? What got him on this path in life?
  • His SoCal background growing up surfing, skating, and loving brands like “Hang Ten”
  • His philosophy: Self-experimentation is key. Find your own path. Share what you discover. Repeat.
  • Patience and mindset when pursuing barefoot/natural running.
  • It took Ted about 10 years to master barefoot technique, and in that process he regained connectedness, mindfulness, and presence in running and body.
  • What does Ted see has come of the minimalist craze and injury rate, has it gotten away from what barefoot/minimalist running should be about?
  • Getting back to the root of why we participate in outdoor activity: whether it’s spirituality, connectedness, achieving the state of flow, etc.
  • Sport: Don’t get caught up in results and competition; it’s ok just to get out there, move, participate and feel
  • Anarchistic philosopher J. William Lloyd in 1890 wrote the first treatise on running where he suggests that health and pleasure should be our primary motivation for movement, not competition.
  • Lloyd wrote in a paper on coed running clubs and games in the 1890s:
  • “I would advise that each runner leave shoes and stockings at home, but of course this should be optional with the individual; next to bare feet are sandals, next to sandals moccasins, next to moccasins, soft, low shoes.”
  • How people can safely transition from a life-time of shoe-wearing to barefoot/minimalist. Hint: It depends.
  • From Ted’s blog; his three goals to master barefoot/minimalist running
  • 1. Master gentle, quiet, forefoot-centric landings, silent and smooth.
    2. Quicken your cadence: Running in bare feet encourages this naturally.
    3. Stable upright posture: balanced head, core engaged, unbent torso, the feeling of balance, relaxed, yet strong.
  • The inspiration behind LUNA sandals, the design and how they came to fruition
  • LUNA’s vs. Vibrams or other minimalist run shoes
  • Comparing LUNA wearer’s to “more traditional” runners
  • What your footwear says about why you are running
  • What’s the deal with his latest business: Solowheel Seattle?
  • “Choose the simplest solution that works well”

Other Resources:

One Comment

  • alan says:

    hi ted. i have been running barefoot and walking and overdone it on rocky terrain. i have a high arched foot and i wonder if it is a good idea to run barefoot with a foot shaped like that. my injury was in the sesamoid bones although i bent the knees and applied a good barefoot technique, or i think so. do you have any advise?


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