This study concluded that at 70% of vVO (2)max pace, barefoot running is more economical than running shod, both overground and on a treadmill. So, if you have a competent enough foot to run barefoot or in minimalistic footwear, and it is important to note that some people are not purely from an anatomical perspective, you can improve your economy of running and use your energy sources efficiently. But if you are one of those unfortunate ones that has excessive pronation or other functional foot challenges, you will have to settle for the less economical shod running. That does not mean you will not have as good a workout, it just means that you will be protecting your foot doing so. Sure, you might not be the fastest one on the track, but you will be able to show up every day having not compromised your feet.
Int J Sports Med. 2011 Jun;32(6):401-6. Epub 2011 Apr 6.
Oxygen cost of running barefoot vs. running Shod.
Health, Physical Education and Recreation, University of Nebraska at Omaha, United States. firstname.lastname@example.org
The purpose of this study was to investigate the oxygen cost of running barefoot vs. running shod on the treadmill as well as overground. 10 healthy recreational runners, 5 male and 5 female, whose mean age was 23.8±3.39 volunteered to participate in the study. Subjects participated in 4 experimental conditions: 1) barefoot on treadmill, 2) shod on treadmill, 3) barefoot overground, and 4) shod overground. For each condition, subjects ran for 6 min at 70% vVO (2)max pace while VO (2), heart rate (HR), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were assessed. A 2 × 2 (shoe condition x surface) repeated measures ANOVA revealed that running with shoes showed significantly higher VO (2) values on both the treadmill and the overground track (p<0.05). HR and RPE were significantly higher in the shod condition as well (p<0.02 and p<0.01, respectively). For the overground and treadmill conditions, recorded VO (2) while running shod was 5.7% and 2.0% higher than running barefoot. It was concluded that at 70% of vVO (2)max pace, barefoot running is more economical than running shod, both overground and on a treadmill.