1st Barefoot Run
Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m a fan of minimal footwear. I believe the best foot is a strong foot, not a foot that’s been made weak by modern “good shoes.” The foot has been a foot for a looooong time. Relative to the span of human existence, “good shoes” and orthotic-type devices are a very new trinkets. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Vikings, Gengis Khan’s Golden Horde, Comanches, Apaches, Aztecs, Zulus… and the vast majority of our fellow humans who’ve ever marched across the earth have done so while wearing nearly nothing on their feet. It wasn’t until the 1970s that we got the modern running shoe from Nike. In terms of research & development, one has a huge head start over the other. All kinds of new research suggests that “good shoes” may not be all that good for us at all.
While minimal shoes have gained in popularity so has barefoot running and I’ve pondered playing around with the concept. So I was quite interested when our local running store the Runner’s Roost advertised a barefoot/minimal shoe seminar. My wife and I attended the seminar last night and it was really fascinating. It got me all excited to start experimenting in a shoeless direction. Today was my first day out.
Of the four speakers, Michael Sandler of RunBare.com was the most interesting informative. (Among other issues, he’s missing the anterior cruciate ligament on one leg–the result of a roller blade crash. So for people who say running is bad for the knees, you might think again. He was also an orthotic addict and orthotic designer.) He suggested that newly barefoot runners must listen to their feet. The moment you feel a little bit of irritation, the run is over. Put on your shoes and come back to run barefoot another day. He suggested a first barefoot run of 200 meters. Then take a day off. Next run is 300 meters. Day off. Next run is 400 meters and so on. It is a very slow starting process this barefoot running.
So today I went for a walk with our dog. It was great weather: sun and 70-ish degress. I walked out barefoot but I had my shoes in a backpack. I ran down the sidewalk to the end of our block. My steps were very quick and light and everything felt fine. First run done and done. I walked another couple of blocks barefoot then put on the shoes. No barefooting tomorrow but I plan to hit it again on Friday. As I sit here writing this, my heel and Achilles pain is non-existent. Seems like a good start.
What is Tightness?
In a somewhat different direction, one of my favorite exercise geek blogs is Begin to Dig. It’s written by a fellow Z-Health practitioner, a woman named MC. (I actually don’t know her full name.) The latest post discusses the whys and hows of tight muscles and how to address them. Among other things, she describes why using a foam roller is probably not the best idea. If you want to learn a bit about the underlying cause(s) of tightness (first and foremost it’s all about your survival) then you should check it out. Beyond that, there’s a lot more informative stuff on her blog about getting strong, lean, fast and pain-free.