Since life has been crazy the last 48 hours (nothing serious, just life), I missed posting the Tuesday Health article. So, today, I am combining the Tuesday Health article with the Wednesday Minimalism article. Please leave your favorite “Call Me Lazy” line in the comments! Also, check out my new article over at The Minimalist Path : Simplify Your Desktop
Soon after beginning my running career, and by that I mean amateur-not-so-fast-huff’n-and-puff’n running career, I learned of barefoot running. Quickly, I became intrigued. I started reading about the surprisingly many barefoot runners there were. Needless to say, I set some barefoot goals.
Now, mind you, I am no Barefoot Geek, but I have enjoyed the freedom to wander aimlessly without shoes. I tried, as often as mom would allow, to live a barefoot life as a kid. I usually got injured, but quickly jumped back up. Entering the world of barefoot running is a completely different tale.
Before I continue, let me note that this is just my experience with implementing the minimalist running aspect. My favorite barefoot runner quote came from a fellow marathoner who said to me, “I had to choose between marathon fee’s and shoes. They are both expensive so I went went marathon fee’s.” I think implementing this running technique is difficult, but can be done if you really want. So, read on with caution as blood and blisters will soon become a part of the tale.
First, I learned more than 99% of people about my own two feet. You think you know your feet, than you meet a barefoot runner and you quickly realize you don’t. Your feet rule your life. Your feet tell your body how to live. Sound strange, this article is only going to get stranger.
When you run with shoes on, your foot, ankle, leg, hips, torso, and head all work together. Unfortunately, we did not evolve with Nike’s for protection. We evolved to walk on our bare feet. So, if you look at your feet as they are right now, they are unhealthy. I am not talking about the fungus. I am talking about the formed structure we have molded them into. Your feet look like shoes. Shoes are made to fit the general man or woman. Too bad we are general because we all have different feet and body structures which means we should all have different shoe structures. Well, Nike isn’t coming to my place anytime soon to make the perfect shoe for me. Without the help of a perfectly fit and molded shoe, which is IMPOSSIBLE for any shoe company, the safest and healthiest mode of two foot transportation is the bare foot variety.
Here are a few links to see the positives to barefoot running…AWESOME READS, trust me:
- Runner’s World – Should You Be Running Barefoot?
- Barefoot Ted’s Adventures – Barefoot Running
- Barefoot Julian – Why Run Barefoot?
- Wikipedia - Barefoot Running
Moving forward, back in July 2008, I started training to run a 5k barefoot. This was in the middle of the summer in Phoenix Arizona. So I thought I was really going to test the limits. I trained running on a track barefoot after 6 mile runs daily. The asphalt and cement was 130 degrees so it was necessary I stick to the track for the barefoot portions. When I did end up running the 5k race in August 2008, I ended up being a huge hit. Kids were dumbfounded and their parents wanted to keep their dumbfounded kids away from the strange, tall and lanky man. The downside was the course for this race was at South Mountain Park in Phoenix which is half decent road covered with pebbles and half eroded concrete. The tape I wrapped my feet in didn’t help much. I ran a steady pace and finished the 3.1 miles in about 23 minutes barefoot (Results Here : Males 18-24). I was cheered on throughout the race by other runners and the crowd and one runner slowed his pace to mine near the end and said I was an inspiration. I don’t know if inspiration fits as much as crazy, but I will take the encouragement anyways. I left the race with bloody legs and blood blisters because my feet were not trained for the terrain, but I also left having challenged myself.
After training and racing barefoot, I have some feedback and suggestions. I think barefoot running is the best thing since slice bread when done properly. It is extremely healthy if done properly. I didn’t train on the proper surface so I deserved the punishment, but it can be done. During the P.F. Chang’s Marathon in Phoenix this year, I ran with a barefoot runner who had run 120+ marathons barefoot and was about 55. Running barefoot will improve your knee, hip, joint problems. I felt so much better after running barefoot during training. I was back to running how I was supposed to be running, unimpeded. My strong suggestion is to use the following instead of barefoot running at first…
I have worn Vibram Five Fingers for 5 months now and they have lengthened my Achilles, flattened my foot back to it’s original structure, improved my horrible ankle stability, and much much more. Here is a link to an article by Tim Ferriss that explains the benefits into SMART PEOPLE detail…click here.
My current status of running technique involves shoes. I would love to implement barefoot running more often, but the time and focus can be overwhelming. I currently where my Vibram Five Fingers whenever I walk out the door…for the most part. I plan on getting a pair of the sprints and try them for the shorter distance races in the near future.
Last point. Minimalism can be brought into any and all aspects of life. The question that you must ask yourself is whether or not you want to sacrifice and suffer to live the simple life that minimalism allows.