A Conversation About Barefoot Running

Since barefoot running is such a hot topic and since I had an expert at my disposal, of course I took the opportunity for some good brain-picking.

While the physical therapist was measuring my feet for orthotics, I just had to ask what he thought of barefoot running. He laughed a bit and said he just knew that question was coming.

After reading Born to Run, I was really interested in the mechanics of running barefoot vs. the technology of shoes. Even though everything the author said in Born to Run made sense, I just had to ask a “real life” person about it.

born to run book

The physical therapist didn’t really give me the answer I was looking for (“It’s awesome!”), but he did bring up some very valid points that I appreciated hearing. Especially since he was in the midst of measuring my feet for clunky orthotics that have to be worn in shoes…

 

He made two good points to consider about barefoot running:

– It’s not really a trend. Well it is. But not a new one- a push for barefoot running comes up every 10 years or so. It alternates popularity, much like everything else in our lives.

– Running barefoot is great- if you’re built for it. Ultramarathoners are ultramarathoners for many reasons, but one of them is quite essential: their bodies are built for it. The same goes for running barefoot- it’s great, if your feet are built for it. The structure of some people’s feet just isn’t going to hold up to scooting around barefoot- that could lead to injury.

barefoot-running

There’s one part of Born to Run that talks about how the muscles and structure of your feet change & your arch can become higher. I still question this point- can feet really adapt, or does it depend on your foot structure to start with?

I literally walk around barefoot 98% of the time. I haven’t worn in heels in 19 months. Yet I still need orthotics?

barefoot

Obviously there are different sides to the concept, like any good story, and I still have questions. But this part made me happy and content for the time being:

The PT pointed out that barefoot running is great for training. He brought attention to the idea that that’s why minimalist shoes like Nike Frees were developed- for training. Whether you run barefoot or in stability shoes, running barefoot occasionally (such as strides in the grass) can be a good training exercise.

So until I get my hands (feet?) on my orthotics and get to give them an honest try, I’ll sit content with the idea of “barefoot training”. You know, once I’m training…. 😉

What are your thoughts on barefoot running vs shoes, etc?

Born to {Read About} Running

When you can’t run, what’s the next best thing to do?

Read about running!!

I have this funny quirk that makes me think if I read about something, I’ll automatically be good at it. (Remember “homework osmosis” by sleeping with a textbook under your pillow?)

Using that theory, when I hit the pavement again, I’m going to be a lightening fast ultrarunner!! (Right?!) If only that actually worked!

born to run

I’ve finally read what’s been called the greatest running book of all time. They weren’t lying.

I don’t even know where to start- it was inspiring, educational, and thought-provoking.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Born to Run takes a look at a people called the Tarahumara– a tribe of Mexican ultrarunners. By observing this fascinating group of super athletes that eat 100 mile runs for breakfast, our technology-driven society can learn a lot.

The Tarahumara run in leather sandals that can hardly be called “shoes”, eat ground corn flour & ch-ch-ch- chia seeds….and don’t get tired or hurt.

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What, no Nike? No Gu?

After reading this book, I’m ready to toss my Nikes and Gu too. Ok, my Mizunos and Clif shots.

Barefoot running is everywhere these days. I used to think it was just weird. Why would companies spend millions of dollars designing the ultimate runner shoes, when the the best choice is to ditch them all together?

Well, yet again, nature wins. The same way we were built to eat natural, not-overly-processed foods, we were built to run the way nature intended.

Kosinski%20Injured[1]

Did you know 8 of 10 runners are injured every year? I’m obviously one of them.  Running shoes, apparently, don’t ‘defeat ailments’, as quoted from Born to Run. Shoes block pain, not impact. Interesting.

Research on running shoes has turned up zilch: even the best, most expensive shoe does not correlate to fewer injuries. In fact, the more cushioned a shoe is, the less protection it provides. I guess I’m a sucker for advertising, since I’ve been programmed to think the opposite. 😉

I’ve only just scratched the surface of this book. You’ll probably be hearing more about it in the near future as I go back through my dog-eared pages. 🙂

Have you read Born to Run? What did you think? What’s your favorite running book?

In Defense of Food- But Not in Defense of Book.

Mmm oats and coffee, now that’s a nice morning:)

oatmeal coffee

And now for your Sunday morning reading pleasure, another book review.

I’m a little late on the bandwagon, but I finally read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which I also have not read. You might know him better as the guy who said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

I figured that part made sense, so I guess I’ll read the book and see what he has to say. I can say first of all, you can probably skip to page 147 and start reading there. That’s where he starts to explain the whole eat food-not too much philosophy. Up until then, although informative and a slightly interesting history, he was mostly just bitter.

After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, my brother in law cringes at the word “corn”. I don’t know why entirely since I haven’t read it, but Pollan stumbles upon the topic briefly in this book. He points out that two thirds of the calories in the American diet come from four crops: corn, soy, wheat, and rice. (A lot to do with feeding animals cheaply and government subsidizing, but I’m not getting into that.) That only leaves a third of the diet for everything else! Fruits, veggies, dairy, protein! That’s a lot of good stuff to fit into a third.

I was pretty shocked to read about the decline in nutritional quality of foods like apples and milk due to economizing the business of agriculture. By finding cheaper ways to grow and raise things, more “calories are produced per acre, but each of those calories may supply less nutrition than it formerly did.” I’d love to learn more about that concept.

Now on to his “eat food” philosophy- for the most part he makes pretty good, fairly unbiased (sometimes) points here, but I thought I’d comment on a few.

Eat food. Yup, that’s a good start 🙂

-Avoid food products that make health claims. I don’t think so. Yes, there may be marketing behind this and it’s shouldn’t be taken as face value, but my oatmeal makes a health claim- says it’s good for my heart. And it is. And I’m not going to stop eating it.

You are what you eat eats too. Simple but overlooked. I like it.

-I forget what “rule” it’s under- something about eating how other cultures do- but a reminder that if you adopt a habit from another culture you have to adopt it in context too. (Don’t just eat corn because they do in Latin America- they use it to pair with beans to make a complete protein in a vegetarian meal)

Have a glass of wine with dinner. ‘nuff said, I’m not arguing there 😉

-Eat meals. 1/5 of eating done by 18-50 year olds takes place in the car. Yikes.

-He says we should go back to snacks being taboo. I disagree. I’m pro-snack. Call me a rebel.

Hmm that’s enough. I’ll leave something for you to read in the book and form your own opinion in case you haven’t read it yet. 😉

I do think it’s a pretty one-sided view, but it’s his book, so his prerogative I guess. I have to say the title was pretty much the take home message, I could have done without the rest for the most part. I was expecting more from something that was trying to hook me with this:

Despite all that, although I didn’t care for a majority of the beginning and I do have a few bones to pick with Pollan, I am interested in hearing what Omnivore’s Dilemma has to say.

Have you read any Michael Pollan books? If you did, what did you think?

Eat, Pray, Love. Or Just Eat.

oats

Mm there’s something so comforting about MY version of oats 🙂 Even though I had oatmeal while I was gone, it just wasn’t the same 🙂 Today I enjoyed oatmeal and cottage cheese with cinnamon,  nutmeg, walnuts, wheat germ, flaxseed, and creamy yummy PB.

Since my breakfast is nothing new I thought I’d give you a book review with your morning coffee (or tea, or milk, or juice…..)

coffee

As I told you, I took Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert on the plane with me. Even though I also had lots of magazines, I decided at the last minute to throw in In Defense of Food as well. (Good thing…I finished Eat, Pray, Love before I was half way through the 2nd flight!) First my thoughts on Eat, Pray, Love…I’ll save In Defense of Food for later because that’s just too much book for one post.

If you’re not familiar with it, Eat, Pray, Love is a personal account of one woman’s quest for happiness while traveling through Italy, India, and Indonesia. The book is divided into 3 sections, one for each country. I really enjoyed the section on Italy—I loved hearing about the different cities and all the vivid descriptions of her experiences with food. It kind of went downhill for me after that. I lost interest in the India section, mostly because it was all about meditation and sitting quietly for hours. The only thing more boring than sitting quietly for hours is reading about sitting quietly for hours. I don’t think I related well because I’m not into meditating- I’m just not good at it. If you have more patience for it than I do, you might enjoy this section, as she writes just beautifully. The last section on Indonesia was better than the previous section, but not quite as good as Italy. I could take it or leave it. I think I enjoyed how she said things rather than what she said. (I do have to admit here that I didn’t know Bali was in Indonesia—smack forehead here—good thing I figured it out though because later that weekend I met somebody going to Indonesia and I was actually able to have a decently intellectual conversation about it.)

The irony that I liked the “eat” chapter best does not escape me.

You could tell just from reading that the author has a very astute self-awareness. I loved where she was describing the differences between herself and her sister. She says all she ever wants to learn about something is the story, whereas her sister notices precise details. It reminded me that understanding how people “see” things can help you understand them all together- people pick up on different things because they have a different importance to them.

So I did appreciate the honesty in which the author shared her journey, the language she used to share it, and somewhat enjoyed following her on her path of self-revelation, but if I were Oprah I probably wouldn’t have thought about calling her.

One of my favorite pieces of advice from the book: “You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.”