Barefoot!

I recently finished “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, and have been looking further into the ‘barefoot’ running phenomenon. Chris claims that nearly all our running injuries are caused by super-cushioned running shoes, and that the closer we are to barefoot, the more our form will improve. Apparently we are meant to land on our forefoot, not our heels, which is precisely what happens when one removes their  shoes.

The book also talks about how our evolutionary purpose might be distance running, which is really fascinating to me! Overall, it was a really enjoyable and inspirational read. I almost want to read it again, now.

I’m not really sure about the whole ‘barefoot’ debate, but there are a lot of really terrific runners out there who swear by it. I found lots of vids like this one:

 

So yesterday I thought I’d take a stab at it, and went on my first run of the year. Despite still wearing my usual shoes, I tried to pretend I was barefoot and only land on my forefoot. It felt really awkward, and I’m pretty sure I looked like a dude making fun of how girls run. It was also not as easy as I expected and my calves can feel it today! I’m going to do yoga today instead of running to let them cool off.

Since I’m too scared to run around without shoes on, and too much of an idiot to simply get a cheap canvas pair, I ordered these bad boys to try out:

They’re cute enough to wear all the time, and apparently can be used for hiking and running. I’m skeptical, but I’ll give it a shot!

Where do you stand on the barefoot running debate?

8 thoughts on “Barefoot!

  1. I used to get taunted for running like that… even with shoes on… so they bucked it out of me like a stubborn horse. As long as this doesn’t lead you down the slippery slope of Croc-ownership then I say more power to ya.

  2. Based on so many friend recommendations and articles like this, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/magazine/running-christopher-mcdougall.html?pagewanted=all, I’ve actually been trying to run more on my forefoot as well for the last two months. It’s harder than I expected. After years and years of being a heel striker my body REALLY wants to only do that. So my runs have turned into a constant mental exercise as well which has sucked a bit of the autopilot fun out running. After two months, though, I only have to remind myself to land on my forefoot every second or third step. I think if I took the plunge and bought some shoes like this I would have to remind myself less often. Please let me know how you like them!

  3. Amateur advice, presented with an unwarranted voice of authority:

    The first thing to remember is to take all of these expert testimonials with a grain of salt. There are a lot of theories out there, most with anecdotal evidence, some with good scientific data backing them up. The problem is that there is no one theory or model that will be the right thing for everyone, because there is simply too much morphological variation within the human species. So a lot of these runners giving testimonials about how running barefoot on the balls of their feet has worked wonders for them might be completely correct in their assertions, but only when it comes to what’s best for them and people built like them.

    I’d recommend trying different things, but doing so carefully without pushing yourself too hard to conform to what works for someone else. If you’ve been running heel to toe, and you’ve been able to do so for long distances without injuring yourself, it may be that you’ve already found what works best for you. When in Rome, don’t fix something that ain’t broken, or something (sorry, I’m bad with cliche sayings).

    If you do pursue running on the balls of your feet, watch out for shin splints (actually a non-specific term for a few different ailments). In this case, pain in the shins can arise when increased development of the calf muscle, without comparable development in the opposing muscle that lies along the shin, stretches the opposing muscle away from the shin.

    All that being said, I’m interested in this new running fad, so I’ll be curious to see how it goes for you.

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