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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 24, 2011 6 years ago

ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Martina Coppenrath

by: Rachel S. OHara Staff Photographer

Five years ago, Martina Coppenrath could barely run around the block, let alone run half marathons and full marathons. Coppenrath was determined to enjoy running and started training using the Galloway program. Although she was able to do the long runs, she was not having fun. Then, two years ago, she found that running barefoot made the experience a lot more enjoyable.

Coppenrath runs seven-to-nine miles barefoot at least three times a week and can usually be spotted running across the Ringling Causeway, though she is up for running on almost any surface. Her most recent challenge was competing in the Disney Princess Women’s Half Marathon, in Orlando, which she ran barefoot.

How did you start running barefoot?
One day I was lifting weights in the gym, and I didn’t have my sneakers on, but I had a lot of energy and I wanted to do a little run. So, I got on the treadmill in just my bare feet, and it worked out great. I was like, “Oh, boy, this is easy.” I did that for a couple of months, and then I decided to try it outside. That became my barefoot running career.

Have you had any injuries running barefoot?
I have been running barefoot for about two years, and I have to say I have had no injuries whatsoever running barefoot. I had more injuries when I was wearing sneakers. I think it is because the way you land in bare feet, it’s more like when you are a kid. When you have sneakers on, you land on your heel because of all the cushioning from the sneaker. That’s where a lot of the injuries happen. When you run barefoot, you land on your whole foot, which takes the impact off of your body. Now, to run with sneakers is just not even an option. The only way I can run is barefoot.

Contact Rachel S. O’Hara at [email protected]

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