I have just finished reading ‘Born to Run’ by Christopher McDougall. If you’re a runner and you haven’t read it then I really recommend it – it’s a great read.
First and foremost it’s a great story, really well written. But it’s a lot more than that too. I found it both educational, challenging and inspirational at the same time. Not many books have managed to do all those things for me at once.
If you’ve been following my running journey from the start you might remember that I run with orthotics in my shoes. I have low arches and to rectify that my osteopath recommended that I wear orthotics, both for walking and running. When I first got my orthotics I noticed an immediate difference to the pain that I had been experiencing on the inside of my calves and if wear shoes without my orthotics I notice this pain coming back within a couple of days.
But I know that all I’m doing is treating the symptom and not the cause. I don’t really want to wear orthotics in my shoes forever but I didn’t really realise that there was anything else I could do about it. Until now.
Born to Run is a story about a hidden tribe of people who are amazing natural runners, able to run hundreds of miles through extreme conditions with ease. They wear very little on their feet, just a strap of leather for protection and run with ease and enjoyment. The book explores how this tribe and other ultra runners are able to cover such great distances with relative ease and why so many other runners get injured.
The writer produces a fair amount of evidence which links running injuries to the advent of running shoes. It’s a fascinating and compelling arguement.
Several runners I know are either experimenting with or are total converts to the ‘barefoot’ running style which involves wearing shoes such as the Vibram Five Fingers and adopting a specific posture while running.
These ‘barefoot’ shoes are very different to normal running shoes. They allow your feet to feel the ground beneath them and encourage you to land on your forefoot rather than your heel. It is heel striking which is supposed to cause a lot of running injuries.
‘Barefoot’ running also encourages the muscles in your feet to get stronger and over time can help to address issues such as flat feet. I am a natural midfoot striker, I’ve never had a problem with heel striking but I am aware that my current trainers feel quite heavy on my feet. I’m also very interested to find out whether if by adopting this different running style I could perhaps build up the arches in my feet.
So I went along to my local running shop Run and Become in Victoria to ask for some advice. I’d heard that it can take a while to transition into barefoot shoes, especially if you’re used to running in supportive trainers with orthotics. I had been eyeing up the Saucony Kinvara 3s for a while – these are a minimilist shoe rather than totally barefoot and I thought might be a good halfway house as I start my transition.
The Nike’s were too narrow for my feet but the Kinvara’s and the Innov8s fitted well and both felt comfortable so it was up to me to decide which ones I preferred. I left the shop very happy with these little beauties – very pleased that the only colour they had in my size was pink!
I have to introduce these shoes gradually to allow my feet and calves to get used to the different running style. That’s fine by me as I’ve just started a half marathon training plan with Chi Running which starts with a run of 3 miles tomorrow – but that’s a story for another blog post.