I received Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run for Christmas last year. The introduction still resonates with me. I’m sure many could say the same thing, but we have very similar stories. I was in pain and tired of it; there just had to be another way. I had an underlying feeling that we are meant to run and that my injuries weren’t a typical training issue of too hard, too much, or too long. I was getting to the point of blaming my body type: a bow legged runner with bad supination. I decided to stop running until I could find a solution.
Barefoot running has been described by many people, critics, and advocates. You really have to experience it to understand it. I’ll opt-in on the advocate side. It’s clear to me that there has been enough runners in pain to create the trend that is now barefoot and minimalist running. Just awhile ago, I was no different. I gritted out runs in pain and trained in pain, but I still dreamt of getting my “BQ” (Boston Qualification). The illustrious Boston Marathon, how it had escaped me for years. If I had only known about barefoot and minimalist running when I started running! I had a horrible gait. After watching myself run on video in slow motion, while wearing my clunky shoes, I finally saw why I was always injured. I then watched a video of myself with no shoes on that treadmill and saw a different runner, a graceful runner. I wanted to be that runner.
1st step: buy new shoes! It took some light runs to get used to the featherweight shoes on my feet (about a month of learning and easy runs). This was such a new feeling and an inspiring change. I had been at a point of desperation. This was a natural form of running. “Chi” form: hips proper, chest forward, gravity pulling me to every succeeding step. From my minimalist shoes, I would jump into Vibram Five Fingers once and awhile and run. I started feeling the muscles in my feet for the first time working hard to keep me balanced. The idea made so much sense. My feet had been so unaware of their environment for so long.
What amazes me is that today I can feel the earth so much better. I can get into a pair of shoes, ask my feet how they feel, and within a few moments I can pick the proper footwear or feel when my footwear isn’t working for me. Some major positives: I’ve become a much stronger runner, I have trouble getting injured by impact (because I’m not creating as much impact as before), I have started to push my competitive limits to places I didn’t think I could reach, and I’ve seen paces and races I never thought I’d see. If you’re at all like me, your feet deserve a change.