Sunday, January 3, 2010

Baby, we were born to run...sans shoes

At the end of April of last year, a few of my friends and I took a dudes-only trip out to Assateague Island, on the coast of Maryland. (The banner picture at the top of the page was taken there.)  Anyway, one day while we were there, one of the guys and I ran about 4 miles on the beach, and we did it in our bare feet.  Now, ever since I was a kid, I've loved being barefoot, particularly during the summer breaks from school. I loved the leathery toughness of my feet by summers-end. Walking on rocks and having it not bother me a bit. In high school, when Honnold was playing gigs around central Iowa, I would do the shows barefoot. Now at EMU, I spend the months of March to December in either flip-flops or my bare feet. In the words of Jim Zabel (nod to Iowa folks): "I love it, I love it, I love it!"

So after running on the beach barefoot this past April, and loving it, I started running my home route barefoot, and did so through the summer and into the fall. Obviously, I'm not out there doing it right now (it's 19 degrees F, at present, in Harrisonburg, VA). But along the way this year, I stumbled on a few things that supported me in my barefoot running venture.

This Wired magazine article: To Run Better, Start by Ditching Your Nikes

Then this author (and runner), Christopher McDougall, appeared on the Daily Show back in August, talking about his book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen (on my to-read list).

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
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Christopher McDougall

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There's also something about running barefoot that helps your feet do a better job of doing what they were designed for: shock absorption. Your stride is completely different when running barefoot. The typical stride while wearing running shoes is heel-toe. But when you're barefoot, you actually hit mid-foot, letting your arch do its job.  See this quick YouTube video (also posted in the Wired article):

Despite running barefoot and being okay with bare skin on asphalt, those Vibram FiveFingers do look pretty sweet...

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