Running Barefoot

It is often thought that people who stop writing for months usually have lost interest in the subject and have simply given up. I can gladly say that for me, this is simply not the case. I’ve been more active than ever and am quite pleased with the results. In due time I’ll cover the main areas of progress. Today I’m going to talk about feet.

Being an Animal

How often do you feel like an animal in your everyday life? I don’t mean simple minded, sub-human, or even caged, I’m talking about the freedom of an animal spirit.

You feel like that in your cubicle? Sitting on your laptop at home? On the phone with your parents? In the car on the way to the dentist? How about shopping at the grocery store?

Chances are this concept doesn’t occur to most of us. We may get brief moments of it at the first descent of a roller coaster, or perhaps in a physical fight, but rarely will we experience these flashes of our past. Our ancestry is nearly destroyed through our modern civilization.

Not anymore friends. Not today.

Barefoot Slippers

As with all my posts thus far, RJ had a hand in this one as well. Earlier this year, I noticed RJ with the most curious shoes on. They were individually toed and looked more like a strange foot-glove than a shoe. This was my first introduction to vibrams.

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These shoes piqued my interest and he described the benefits:

  • No shock absorption by the shoe
  • Thin soles to better experience a barefoot run
  • Fixes your stride to take strain off knees/lower back

Know any runners with lower back problems? My mom is one. She has debilitating back trouble that often keeps her from simple tasks such as driving or performing necessary tasks around the house. I know quite a few people who have knee trouble as well. Such is life- our bodies break down, right?

Evolution

Okay, so unless you believe that we were put on this earth not too long ago, you’ll buy into my logic here. Human beings come from a long lineage stringing back 10 million years. You may hear differing estimates by a few million, but that’s largely irrelevant to someone who lives perhaps 80.

How did we get here? Did cars and grocery stores always exist? Have we never had predators to worry about or food that wasn’t within a phone call’s reach? After watching numerous pre-history documentaries on the evolution of human beings, one thing that is often touted is the efficiency of 2 legged running vs. the traditional 4. It’s simply not the ability to see higher because otherwise giraffe’s would be the ones polluting our rivers right now.

Running is something that is in our animalistic DNA. We do it naturally and gracefully. I recently saw an absolutely badass video of a tribe in Africa that still hunts on foot by running miles upon miles chasing 4-legged antelope-type animals before they collapse of exhaustion. How many times have you chased an animal for hours before collecting your bounty? Me neither.

My Wednesday Experience

So, after wandering into a Track ‘N Trail store (great salesperson helped me out as an aside), I purchased these:

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I chose a different style but you can see the lack of a heel. It allows you to run without cushion and get used to running on your toes, so to speak.

On Wednesday, I met up with a local running group and ran 5 miles in these beautiful re-inventions of the foot. I haven’t had such an uplifting experience in a long time and I’d say they’re likely my favorite purchase this year (a close contender with my juicer or my car).

A Short Look at the Pain Caused by Traditional Soles

Why would cushioning the blow of the pavement be bad on you? It allows you to push your feet harder than they should against the ground (i.e. stomping) and those shocks still hit your joints quite hard, regardless of the cushion available in your new Nike shocks. After years of bodily abuse, your back or your knees simply cannot take it any more.

I’m not familiar with recovery stories of the injured becoming the superstar within a year, but as with all areas of health, the body recovers faster than we give it credit (as long as we allow it to heal!).

So, this is your knees begging you: try out some barefoot running. You deserve it.

Update: best shape I’ve been in in 20 months. Should be about 3 months before I get in the best shape of my life. Here’s to keeping it going.