Over the years, I have been studying the running techniques of various elite runners. There have been many from Africa that have run sans shoes and have done very well – several won marathons setting records in the process. In watching them run, they always hit with the front part of the foot – ball or toes hitting first. So while training for my first marathon on 2006, I changed my foot strike from heel to toe to hitting with the front of the foot. It took its toll as I didn’t realize how weak parts of my leg, foot and heel had become by running the old way. I did end up with a stress fracture as a result.
Once I made it through the transition phase, I have been running stronger and with less injury, no shin splints and have been getting faster.
Recently I have been reading the book, Born To Run by Christopher McDougall. The subtitle of the book really caught my attention – A hidden Tribe, super athletes and the Greatest race the world has never seen. One of the reviews that I read about the book said – “all you have ever learned about running is wrong.” All of these comments made the book very intriguing.
The book has confirmed a lot of what I had already figured out – running from heel to toe is bad, the body was made to work/run and you should not be getting injuries from running – if you are doing it correctly. There were some facts that were quite interesting – like since the introduction of running shoes, injuries to runners have increased. Yes that is correct – injuries have increased since the introduction of running shoes which were supposedly designed to decrease runners injuries. I kept reading and he tells about a people group in Mexico, the Tarahumara that can run extremely long distances without shoes. I have done some research on this group and found them very interesting.
So I have been doing some research about barefoot running and I basically use the technique with shoes and have been relatively successful. I am considering switching to barefoot running – but not for the Minneapolis Marathon. I think it is too late in the training program to make that big of a change. I have also found some foot ware to protect your feet from heat, cold and glass while running on the asphalt trails.
I am off to a local store this next week to check out the Vibram Five Fingers Foot ware. I have a lot of questions about transitioning out of regular running shoes to the bare foot type and then possibly totally to bare feet. These new shoes are lighter, which makes them easier to transport when I travel, can be used on all types of terrain and will make running on beaches much nicer!
I’ll keep you updated on my process of transitioning to running sans shoes!