Health & Wellness Tuesday: Born To Run

Even if you’re not a runner, I highly recommend this book.  It was recommended to me by a friend and now I’m passing the word to all of you.  Below is a brief synopsis from Amazon.com:

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.

Christopher McDougall is a great writer… very witty… and this book is a race from the first page.  This book also made me mad though because I felt like such a sucker for buying into the marketing genius behind the modern running shoe.  You believe people when they tell you you need MORE support, MORE cushion.  WRONG!  I ran the ING New York Marathon a few years ago and my knees are really messed up and now it’s spreading to my hips.  If I had this information back then I wouldn’t be all messed up now.

If you run at all (even a casual jog a couple times a week) or you’re thinking about starting to run to get into shape then you NEED to read this book.  Running should be fun and pain-free.  Like when you were a kid!  And with a few slight adjustments to your running form and footwear… it’s possible.  Why are the Ethiopians such great runners?  Surely, growing up they typically don’t have access to the $150 Nike’s we have.  So what’s the deal?

I just moved to Denver and there’s a huge REI store here that offers all sorts of free classes and they just had one called “Born To Run” and it’s based on the whole idea of barefoot running.  I went and was even more convinced that this is the way to go.  I bought the presenter, Michael Sandler’s, book “Barefoot Running” and also bought some Vibram Five Finger shoes (which are featured in “Born To Run”) and I can’t wait to try them out!  I’m a person who actually LIKES to run and I miss it.  My hope is that my injuries will correct themselves once I run the way my body was built to run.

Your feet are comprised of 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles, and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments.  Your foot muscles need to be worked just like all the other muscles in your body.  If you have tons of cushiony support from a shoe then guess what?  You’re not working the muscles and they can atrophy (just like if you wore a cast on your arm for a couple months – your arm is protected but your muscle fades) and that’s when injuries occur.

The idea isn’t to go around barefoot all the time like a bushman.  That’s impossible.  But according to this theory… when running… it’s best to go with as little support as possible and if you can… totally barefoot.  I must admit the idea of running barefoot conjures up images of stepping on a pieces of broken glass or worse… but I’ll start out very slowly… 100 yards… then 200 yards… and I’ll be hyper aware of where I’m stepping.  Then soon enough, I’ll be so familiar with the path I run I’ll know every little nook and cranny of it and will have no problem avoiding any bad stuff.  Although, I’m going to use my Vibram’s first and also try running on a popular bike path which is usually pretty clean.

Okay, I could go on and on about this topic but I’ll stop here for now.  Please let me know if you have any questions about this.  I’d love to answer them!

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5 responses to “Health & Wellness Tuesday: Born To Run

  1. I never really thought about barefoot running, but now am very interested in this topic. I read the Amazon reviews and both Born to Run and Barefoot Running sound great. Thanks.

  2. Pingback: #7 – Have fun | Reasons to Lose

  3. totally doing some more reading! I had thought, like you, that I needed good shoes, but I guess because typically I am barefoot about 90% of the time my feet react even worse when I try to wear shoes for exercise!

    thank you 🙂

    • Exactly! It makes sense, eh? I love the analogy of a toddler learning to walk barefoot and just when they have it down pat… we put shoes on them and they become wobbly-walkers, lose their balance and fall down. I just ran a bit more today and I love it! Although I’m wearing those Vibram Five Finger shoes and haven’t gone completely barefoot yet. Would love to hear how it goes for you! I like the honesty of your blog. Hang in there 🙂

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