Sunday, July 11, 2010

Finally Getting it Down

Wednesday, July 7th, I set off for my normal 7 mile run (With running shoes). For the first time after a few weeks of successfully running barefoot, I quickly felt the aches and pains... the NORMAL aches and pains I though just came with running but had forgotten about until the shoes were back on my feet. My usual 7 mile run was chopped down to a 4 mile run and with about a mile left I untied my laces, popped off my shoes and ran the last mile barefoot. It was the best mile of the run. Instantly my leg pains vanished. This was great, I was totally sold....

No more running shoes for me.


Now, at 5.25 miles, Saturday July 10th marks my longest run (natural style).
Working my way up to my old distances and speed while getting unused muscles used to doing what they're supposed to do...

Before turning my back on running shoes, I was averaging around 30 miles a week, usually doing a few 7 mile runs with a 4.25 mile run at a fast pace or a longer, 10 plus miler tossed into the mix. I noticed my shins, knees and sometimes my hips were achy after my runs, especially the longer ones. I figured this was part of running and like a true man ignored the pain. "If I run more my legs will get used to it and therefore I would become much, much more awesome."

One afternoon I was out of the house running some errands and decided to go for a run. My shorts were already in the car from a failed attempt to go running the day before (thanks to a crazy lightning storm) and I keep an extra pair of crappy old Asic running shoes in the trunk of my car, mainly for rainy days but this day I would be running in them. I laced up and headed out for a 7 mile run. I quickly noticed that my old shoes, with soles beat down with about a years worth of extra miles, were surprisingly more comfortable to run in than my newer shoes, that had MUCH softer, cushier soles. I found that being less uncomfortable of a run actually made me much more aware or my stride.

About 2 weeks after this discovery, on my mom's suggestion I started reading Born to Run. A book that my wife bought a few months earlier but didn't have a chance to read. Convenient right?! Throughout the book the author, Christopher McDougall, bashes running shoes and gives many, very good examples to back up what he's preaching. His main example is a tribe called the Tarahumara who live deep in the Copper Canyons of Mexico. These people run crazy distances, exceeding 100 miles in a day, well into old age with virtually no health problems. All of these runners cover these huge distances in homemade huarache sandals.


I saw somewhat of a connection between my old shoes and the minimal sandals these people were wearing and decided to look into minimalist running some more and came across loads of info on barefoot running.

Curiosity got the best of me so I left my shoes inside, headed to the end of my driveway and started to run.

Instantly my form was different... better. a LOT better.. and NO aches in my knees at all. My road is in dire need of resurfacing but the roughness of the asphalt wasn't phasing me. Sure I was aware of it, but strangely it didn't hurt once I started cruising along. Actually, it felt more akin to some kind of rough massage than pain.
I ran up and down my street then stopped deciding not to push my luck but not being able to get the fantastic feeling out of my head. An hour later, I was back outside to do it again. Still felt good.

A closeup of the asphalt in front of my house. this is actually a smoother section of the road!

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