Saturday, July 18, 2009

Born to Run

I really like books that turn your whole thinking upside down like Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. I didn't even know it was possible to run 100 miles at a clip but the people in this book do it. The big revelation for me was that running shoes are actually bad for your feet! It turns out that studies show that foot impact forces are actually lightest in bare feet, heaviest in Nikes. A doctor is quoted in the book: "If I put your leg in plaster, we'll find forty to sixty percent atrophy of the musculature within six weeks. Something similar happens to your feet when they're encased in shoes." The fancier the running shoe, the worse it is! Putting support under the arch weakens the whole structure and padding, especially under the heel, causes the extra impact as the feet push through the sole in search of a hard stable surface. Some runners in the book are sold on running barefoot but a good compromise is to run in cheap old fashioned unpadded sneakers. I've been doing this for about a week and my feet feel better than they've felt in a long time. The naked toe manifesto is presented:
Shoes block pain, not impact!
Pain teaches us to run comfortably!
From the moment you start going barefoot, you will change the way you run.

This is all good stuff and it isn't even what the book is really about. It reads more like an adventure story that culminates in an ultra race in Mexico's Copper Canyon against the indigenous Tarahumara indians, the fastest long distance runners on earth.

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