Running without running shoes had been very popular a few years ago but interest in it and the number of runners doing it have decreased substantially. It was a fad that made it through several years and was largely influenced by social media discourse. It was a temporary trend towards barefoot running which started about 2009 with an increase of interest in running without running shoes. It was claimed in many books, blogs and magazine content that barefoot running was more natural, that it was a more economical method to run and that you got less injuries running like that. Many runners tried using barefoot running as opposed to using running shoes and fascination with it peaked about 2013. The sales of minimal or barefoot running shoes furthermore peaked at around that time, getting to almost 10% of the running shoe market.
After that initial interest and peak interest in barefoot running and minimalist running shoes were steadily declining. Runners lost interest in barefoot running. The sales of the minimalist running shoes have been declining steadily since around mid- to late 2013. The claimed advantages for running barefoot did not eventuate to many runners who tried barefoot running but, not surprisingly, those who promoted barefoot running just claim that those runners were doing it wrong. When the scientific evidence accumulated, the advantages weren’t just there. All of the injury epidemiology reports were showing that the injury risk was exactly the same should you be running in footwear versus running without shoes and most of the running economy studies were also demonstrating that generally there weren’t any systematic benefits.
While some runners, who’re rather vocal, still do their running without running shoes the important market shift has now been towards the maximalist running shoes with the Hoka One One running shoe being the leader in that group of running shoes. It has now reached the stage where that brand now outsells the entire class of minimalist running shoes which gives an obvious clue of the popularity of cushioned running shoes compared to running barefoot.