Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Barefoot. Kinda.

So as long as I've been running seriously (about two or three years now) I've been reading "the literature." Runner's World magazine, whatever running books come out that pique my interest. As long as I've been reading this stuff, I've been hearing snippets and whispers about "barefoot running." Product reviews of the Nike Free or the Vibram Five Fingers, articles about how running barefoot cured back pain...

Then, just recently I read Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. If you're a runner and haven't read it - well, do. it's a great story about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, and why they're such great distance runners. There's a lot more to it, though. He also justifies the title by delving into why humans were "born to run" - why our evolutionary success hinged on our ability to be better endurance runners than the large mammals which were our prey. And this leads into, of course why we were designed to run barefoot.

What this all boils down to is a feeling that running shoes themselves are what's causing runners to have injuries. All sorts of studies, the incidence of injuries skyrocketed after the introduction of the modern running shoe, etc. This all strays close to the feeling of a conspiracy theory - the recommended life of running shoes, 300-500 miles, is timed to coincide with new shoes being released. In fact most of the "barefoot running" websites out there have a pretty "conspiracy theory" feel to them. I think that's kind of how they like it, though...

But anyway, all this kind of made sense to me, the natural running thing. I haven't been plagued with many injuries, beyond a little hip imbalance last year. This, however, seemed like it was worth a try. So, on a whim, last week I bought myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I took them out for a mile run on grass the day I bought them, and they felt just fine. Waited a few days, and took them on a 3.5 mile run this morning, on a mix of pavement and trail. Got a little blister on one of my toes, but that's all. I barely even had to change my stride. I guess I'll take that as confirmation that I have a pretty decent gait. OK, I was a little slower - being careful - and had to lean a little differently on the downhills so I didn't heel strike. But I'll keep this up once or twice a week and let you all know how it goes...

4 comments:

SnowLeopard said...

Interesting! I am curious to know how it would help with back pain... Glad to hear that it worked out, at least on this first short run. :)

Peter Lubbers said...

Thanks. Definitely interesting stuff. Keep us posted on this.

Paige said...

Your blog is always so interesting!

Nitmos said...

You may be the Pied Piper of barefoot running. Good read.