As I slowly navigate my way through the running world, I am learning more and more about basic things that I never realized were important.
I’ve almost done with Born to Run and not to sound sappy, but it has changed my whole perspective on running.
If you haven’t read it yet, you must.
The book description from Amazon reads:
“Full of incredible characters, amazing athletic achievements, cutting-edge science, and, most of all, pure inspiration, Born to Run is an epic adventure that began with one simple question: Why does my foot hurt? In search of an answer, Christopher McDougall sets off to find a tribe of the world’s greatest distance runners and learn their secrets, and in the process shows us that everything we thought we knew about running is wrong.
Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matched by uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.
With a sharp wit and wild exuberance, McDougall takes us from the high-tech science labs at Harvard to the sun-baked valleys and freezing peaks across North America, where ever-growing numbers of ultrarunners are pushing their bodies to the limit, and, finally, to the climactic race in the Copper Canyons. Born to Run is that rare book that will not only engage your mind but inspire your body when you realize that the secret to happiness is right at your feet, and that you, indeed all of us, were born to run.”
Not only does the book inspire you to find happiness in running, which I love, it breaks down the mechanics of running naturally.
I tried switching my form yesterday and run how I should be – by aligning my feet with my center of gravity and hitting the ground mid-foot, and running with quick little strides to put less pressure on my joints. Apparently you should be taking around 180 steps per minute.
I felt so goofy and had no idea if I was actually using the proper form, but I sure as hell felt way lighter, smoother, and less fatigued.
I definitely want to work on my stride as much as possible while I’m still a beginner.
Born to Run also explains the ideology of barefoot running, which I am now obsessed with. This doesn’t mean actually running barefoot, except for Barefoot Ted, who would run up the canyons literally in bare feet, nor does it necessarily mean running in sandals or Tevas like the Tarahumara or the main gringo ringleader, Caballo Blanco.
The idea of running barefoot is running with minimal cushion. The heel cushioning on many modern running shoes can make you more likely to heel strike, which in turn makes you more likely to get injured.
Well….I don’t want to get injured. And I have foot problems to begin with! Currently, I run in:
Saucony ProGrid Mirages.
I bought them about a year ago because I thought they were cute. Typ.
But lately, my left arch (on the foot I broke twice) has been aching during and after I run. I even went as far as to purchase orthotics.
I guess they work, because I have less arch pain when I use them. But after reading that orthotics are the devil, I reconsidered what was really at the root of the problem.
1. My stride (which we’ve already covered – I’m working on it…)
2. My shoes
My friend recommended these Merrell shoes to me:
Like most of the running research suggests, my friend warned me NOT to go straight into running with these babies. My feet are used to the cushioned 4mm drop shoes that I’ve worn for most of my life, and simply can’t handle the poundage. That would most certainly result in a stress fracture. No thanks!
Instead, I opted for these:
The description on the Merrell website says these beauts are, “for distance runners and those new on the path to barefoot running, our Bare Access Arc 0mm drop running shoe gives you a barefoot feel, with added toe to heel cushioning. Still allowing your foot to land flat and follow its own natural motion, its cushioning protects from sustained impacts due to longer runs or a new barefoot training program.”
I’ll still be careful, I promise! I will ease in to using them.
Soooo, they’re a little expensive (like all running shoes are), but it’s OK, my mom gave me a little cash money because she saw on the blog that I needed new running shoes. I shall start writing everything I need on CNG. Just kidding….kind of.
Oh yeah, I also bought these today. But seriously, I need them. Remind me to never buy an iPod shuffle ever again to work out with. As you know – since I’ve been complaining nonstop about them – the damn remotes on the headphones are just not waterproof.
Can you tell it’s payday?
I swear I’m not buying any other superfluous stuff/running gear/
anything except food until after August 15th! Just like Janae is doing a personal challenge, that’s my personal challenge to myself.
Shut up, Georgina.
What is your take on the barefoot running debate?
Have you ever tried Merrell’s shoes?