Sunday, September 13, 2009

Born to Run


I recently read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and it, along with the summer heat winding down, convinced me to get off my butt and move around a little bit. While the book talks about extreme runners and extreme running I was a little more realistic than that in my ambitions. I've started the Couch to 5k program, and  by started I mean I ran yesterday for the first time. Today is an off day so I just did a brisk half-hour walk.

One of the things they talk about in the book is Barefoot running and how running barefoot reduces injuries. This is a big deal to me. I don't want to hurt myself. As I hit google.com and look around for close to barefoot running tips, minimalist running it's called. I'm finding that barefoot runners have a lot in common with religious zealots. There's not a lot of "We understand you don't want to run barefoot because there is glass and you live on a rocky road -- here are some tips that will help you with that." Nope. Nothing like that. They keep saying "Run barefoot if you want to run barefoot." Well, I get that. The thing is. I don't want to run barefoot.

I want to run in a way that will minimize injuries, and I consider running on a gravel road injurious. "Well, you should walk first on it." Yes. I get that. Only it's September and I'm in Iowa. I have MAYBE 2 months before I'll be running in snow, and seriously... I'm not doing that barefoot. So, can we get past the barefoot thing and help a brotha out with the minimalist stuff? "It's barefoot or nothing." *sigh* thank you for your help.

So... barefoot running is out. If all they're going to tell me is that close enough isn't the same thing well, I guess I'll wing it. I had some new Nike's I got a while back for hiking and I never liked them. They feel like high heeled shoes to me. (I'm a dude so wearing high heels isn't my thing.) I typically wear New Balance because they feel flatter. So, I bought a new pair of New Balance, gave away the Nikes and am prepared to run in New Balance flat, light-weight shoes. I've considered the Vibram Five Finger shoes, but they're so expensive, and with the seasons changing so soon I doubt I'd be able to wear them very long. Perhaps for Christmas if I'm still running I'll get some for spring and summer running. The barefoot running sites say things like "NOOOOOOOOOOO" whenever someone mentions them, but they do so not because it's a bad intermediate step but because if you're not barefoot, to them, you may as well be wearing wooden clogs from holland. There are only two camps: Naked, Not-Naked.

This is an irritating false dichotomy. Yes. I'm not bare of foot if I'm wearing a minimalist shoe, but I suspect the running style and habits learned with a Vibram Five Finger shoe would be very similar to those learned in an actual shoe... but I wouldn't be getting stone bruises from running on gravel (This isn't pea gravel I'm talking about here. It's big chunky rocks.) near my house. I could go somewhere to run, but I won't. If I have to drive there I won't do it. The advantage of running and walking as exercise is I should be able to do it almost anywhere. If I'm going to go somewhere I may as well go to a gym and run on a treadmill (barefoot not allowed at the ones I've been to. Shirt & shoes required according to the signs.)

This is my rambling introduction.

I'm a day down and worried about shin splints because the front left shin is tender. I even iced last night after the run... we'll see tomorrow. Maybe I ran too fast/far/hard.
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