Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Even if the shoe fit' least occasionally, forget it.

Many runners focus primarily on the workouts and little on their form. You probably learned to run as a young kid right after you learned to walk. You could run and for the most part that was enough. Efficiency was not important. For the most part what ever you learned then is still a part of your running technique today. In addition, our body changes as we age. Flexibility and muscle tone, even your desk job can change what happens when you run. Do you bend at the waist when you get tired? Do you strike with your heal? To you over pronate? What do you do?
People spend enormous money and time finding shoes to correct discomfort caused by specific running deficiencies but believe there is nothing they can do to correct their form. Before jumping on a pair of extreme control trainers with inserts consider the root cause and forget about the symptoms. An extreme shoe platform can reinforce and amplify your bad habits.
A good place to start is by watching the best IVS runners as well as the elites on television. Forget about the blistering pace.....what is different about the way they run? What's different about the technique? Notice how effortless they make it look.
Have an objective third party like Adam, Greg or Blair watch you run. Have a friend video tape you running. Concentrate on making adjustments to make you run more like those who seem to run so gracefully. Time spent improving form can be very rewarding. Many form improving drills can be completed in a small amount of time and they are not especially taxing. The benefits can last a lifetime.
Strength training, flexibility, and techniques such as barefoot running are great ways to get your running form where you need it. Train your brain! Barefoot running gives you mucho feedback (at first a bit too much). It also strengthens the feet. This can improve efficiency and lessen the chance for injury.
Mark Sisson, who runs the blog Marks Daily Apple writes "When was the last time you left your house without shoes? Hard to say? When was the last time you ran without shoes? Summer, circa 12 years old? If you are to listen to the growing number of barefoot runners out there you are truly missing out.
It turns out we were all born barefoot. No, really. As hard as it is to believe, no one came strolling into this world pre-packaged with a pair of loafers or Nike’s latest cross-trainers. That alone is a good enough argument for not wearing shoes, right? Yeah, yeah, so goes the same argument for public nudity. But there really is something to the notion that going barefoot (not bare-naked) is good for you. "
You can check out the entire post in Mark's blog! It's a great read for anyone considering barefoot running:


Matt S. said...

Great writing Rob...seriously, start writing a book. I want to try it out sometime, but running barefoot for the first time at 7:05 pace makes me nervous. I would need your guidance.

Rob Fennell said...

I am not known for moderation. Just ask my wife. So, from experience I can say go slowly. Running barefoot won't happen overnight. I've been working towards barefoot running for about a year now. Start by going barefoot around the house and when ever possible get out of those shoes! Taking a short walk barefoot just to get used to all the feedback. Try for 5-10 minutes a day on the sidewalk. You may experience minor abrasions but your feet will quickly begin to toughen up. As important as the skin, all those tendons and muscles that are just not yet strong enough to support you for extended periods.

Can you run fast without strong feet? You bet! But this adds another very satisfying dimension to your running regiment. Just go slow (you've got your whole life) and work towards being strong enough to run at least some strides au natural! I am telling man, you will love it!

Mark Sisson said...

Thanks for the link to my article at Mark's Daily Apple. I appreciate it. Good luck with the barefoot running!


Matt S. said...

22 days without an update...your killing me Rob!