Monday, June 7, 2010

thinking barefoot

About ten months ago, after having just bought two new pairs of Saucony running shoes, a new co-worker of mine mentioned this article that he read in Wired Magazine about barefoot running and the myth of running shoes. I inwardly scoffed, thinking that it was kind of outrageous and that running shoes, especially those made by almost purely running shoe companies like Brooks and Saucony, made a time tested product that could be trusted. After having spent over $200, one might see the reason for my defensive inner thoughts. Anyways, I haven't read the article. I'll see if I can track it down later.
But I do mark this event as the beginning of something that is continuing until now. Call it what you will, but I think God is telling me to "lose the shoes". There's a few reasons for this. First, what my co-worker told me, which I politely dismissed. Second, I saw this special on heal-striking and the injuries caused by that on a friend's facebook page. Third, I met a guy at an off-road half marathon here a couple of weeks ago who was wearing Vibram Five Fingers, I was intrigued, not only at the idea, but actually seeing this kid run and being admittedly envious at how free he looked in his stride and gait.
Fourth, I began my own research, and the interwebs are chock full of "liberation" stories, and a good portion of the stories contain something about injuries like tendonitis and lower back pain stuff eventually disappearing. I decided to give barefooting a try, so I went truly barefoot and did an easy paced three miles around the track. Felt great. My soles were a little tender but not so bad that it bothered me too much.
I must say that I'm intrigued by everything, and have gotten excited about really giving this a try.
And then Jina brought me a book last weekend that she ordered from the library: Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.
I've barely been able to put it down. It has related with me in several ways. First, there is the story about the Tarahumara runners in the bottom of Copper Canyon. It took me back to my first trip to Mexico and my descent into the Canyon in a 1980's Suburban with a friend, a driver named Salvador (which, probably just a coincidence, is the name of the driver of Christopher McDougall down into the canyon one year later), and a family full of Tarahumara Indians who lived in the bottom of the canyon. Secondly, there's a story about the Leadville 100, which I never knew existed, but I did spend some formative years in Leadville and I remember meeting that crazy ultramarathoner at the peak of Smelter Mountain. Thirdly, I had seen the book a lot on my search, and I had made a mental note to pick up a copy. And then Jina, out of nowhere, brings it home, having heard nothing at all about it.
And so, here I am. I don't think I'm one that reads too much into things on a regular basis, and then there are times when there is that unmistakeable guidance from the realm of the divine. i have a marathon coming up in October, and I don't think I'll be doing that one barefoot, but I do have a sneaky suspicion that I'll be dipping into this exciting new prospect soon enough.

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