Tuesday, November 17, 2009

LA Times -- Tips on Barefoot Running

The following is from the LA Times. Click here for the link.

By Roy Wallack
October 5, 2009

Now, about that workshop: Why would there be a need to "learn" something as natural as barefoot running?

Barefoot-running guru -- and workshop leader -- Ken Saxton used to ask that same question. But over the years he's learned a few things, such as how to curl the toes up on the forefoot strike to avoid toe stubs and to lift the foot straight up off the ground rather than pulling the heel up first.

His basic rules of barefooting now include the following:

* Never heel-strike. Land on the forefoot, with an erect back on a bent leg.

* Quickly lower the heel so that the foot is flat on the ground.

* Strive for a rapid turnover. The less time your foot is on the ground, the faster you are and the less you get injured. Lift the foot straight up off the ground

* Run quietly. "You know you're a good barefoot runner when you scare people as you pass them -- because they can't hear you coming," says Barefoot Julian (more commonly known as Julian Romero, a Caltech doctoral student). "You're really good when you can scare a dog."

* Finally, don't have too much fun at first. "Avoid RBES -- the 'Running Barefoot Exuberance Syndrome,' " Saxton says. "People get so excited that they run too much too soon and get hurt, especially calves and Achilles. So build up slowly."

Katy Onstad, a 26-year-old information-technology specialist, knows all about RBES. A five-year runner who had completed 10 5K runs but then developed shin splints, she read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall in two days, bought a pair of Five Fingers, found Saxton’s website and drove down from Lompoc for the recent clinic. At the end of that day's 4-mile barefoot run, her stubbed toes were bloody. A couple days later, she couldn't walk.

"My Achilles tendon was so swollen that I could barely get out of bed," she said. "But I know it's the right thing. So I'm going to take it slow, increase 10% a week until I'm running barefoot 100%."

But not everyone thinks that's such a good idea, she says. "The funniest thing was when I told my mom about it. She said, 'Oh, Katy, don't you already have enough problems with your feet?' "



Anonymous said...

SoCal does a really good job covering barefoot running. Nice find.

Rob F. said...

Matt!!! You mad man. Great to hear from you again. Love your blog. You should come west and do the Screaming Pumpkin next year. It's Oct 29. You WILL LOVE THIS MARATHON!!! If you need a place to stay just let me know. The wife and I would love to host you.