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Running the Americas Barefoot

The feat achieved by the character Forrest Gump when he goes about running across the United States in the self-titled movie might not have been that unrealistic after all. Can you imagine an “extended run” version, and without Nike shoes at that? We have recently come across an interesting article that dealt with a very bold project set up by a student from Concordia University, in Montréal, Joseph Michael Liu Roqueni. As if Forrest Gump hadn’t done enough, the Montrealer is planning to leave the city in May to run down to the farthest South point of Argentina!


A distance only a little short of 20,000 km! But this challenge goes beyond the distance travelled; Joseph contemplates making the trip bare foot! Why? Joseph says that he got used to it and it’ll be worth his while as he’ll be saving on the weight and price of the shoes. You can click on this link to watch a short video of Joseph that was posted on the website of Radio-Canada. The Running Clinic’s Lee-Manuel contacted this “adventurous fellow” and asked him a few questions. Joseph was delighted with the interest we had in his project and kindly answered our questions.


  1. Do you use to run barefoot when you were young? I actually never thought about it, but now that you ask, yes I did some barefoot running around when I was about between 7-12 years old, not much though probably the equivalent to a soccer game a couple of times a week so that’s about 3 hours per week if we average it out
  2. Do you currently only train barefoot? No, I do both barefoot and minimalist shoes depending on how my body feels.
  3. Did running barefoot bring you more/less running injuries? At the very beginning yes I did get injured and I was disappointed by the theory on barefoot running, but after some research and time I realized that it was my body adapting to using the muscles that I never used wearing shoes. Once I recover from that, which took months, I haven’t gotten any injuries at all besides minor blisters and cuts I suffered also during adaptation
  4. Have you done anything special to help adapt your barefoot running? Yes gradual process. First grass, during my warm ups or cool downs on my workouts, 15 to 20 min a day, a couple of times per week, then both warm up and cool down, then treadmill, same principle 10-15 min and gradually increasing time, then track, then pavement (asphalt), then concrete, then dirt roads including gravel. In every surface switch I would step back time wise, meaning if I was running 40 min on the treadmill, when I switch to track I started again at 10 or 15 min on the new surface. And also each surface transition caused me big blisters but only the first time, then you develop calluses very fast and you are capable or running pretty much anywhere. Now I run on snow too, hard snow is not so nice because it can get sharp but soft snow is awesome! I have to say though, I don’t do workouts for competitive racing anymore like I used to do during my cross country seasons so that is another influence in no injuries, I cannot give all the credit to barefoot running. I will be more experienced on this topic when I come back from Argentina hahaha. I can keep you posted.

Our opinion and findings: Tissue adaptation is always time-related and specific to everyone. Upon analysis of Joseph’s running experience and training, we have found yet again that the limits of tissue adaptation are more than often underestimated. In the poster created by The Running Clinic (image below), we have proposed transition periods for those who wished to switch to minimalism. These are very conservative estimates that will apply to over 90 percent of runners out there. We wish Joseph all the best. You can follow his training and help him financially via his website as soon as he leaves in May for a two-year-or-so journey.