Monday, July 5, 2010

Breaking Away From Tradition

A few weeks ago, I shared my book review of Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run (2009). In his narrative, McDougall reports, both scientifically and anecdotally, how he discovered the incredible fitness of the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico who live privately, and run effortlessly – with no injuries.

Yesterday, after collecting my racekit at Velocity, I acquired my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers® Bikila (after the amazing Olympic champion, Abebe). These are thin-soled shoes that were modeled after barefoot running. When I posted on Facebook on who ran barefooted occasionally, I received a quite a few responses from my friends. Some were adamant about running with shoes; others were strong proponents and promoters of running naked.

Running without shoes, has been around for a long time. The top Kenyan runners used to run barefooted until they won races and got sponsored. There is a fascinating argument about whether running with thin-soled shoes and contemporary running shoes causes the most injuries. The question has emerged: Does running with running shoes cause more injuries than running without them? Shod or no shod? Injuries seem to prevail regardless of shoes, or not.

I was also surprised that the Vibram Five Fingers® cost just as much as normal running shoes. As I was fitting myself with a few pairs of the sock-like shoe in the relatively crowded shoe section, all of the patrons looked curiously on and even asked the shoe expert at the store questions about them.

I know that a pair of these well-moulded socks cost a fair bit. However, being scientific I need to test it on subjects. Anecdotal evidence is relevant to a certain point, until you test it out. My approach is Test-Operate-Test-Exit. Having experienced mild injury-like symptoms (having no history of major joint injuries at all for decades), I decided to re-educate my feet and entire musculoskeletal system. Having attended and practiced Chi Running for the last few years, I have learnt to focus on my core stability while in dynamic motion.

As strongly encouraged by my barefoot running friends, I will ease into the mileage gradually. No point being hurt during the transition; although I should expect a degree of soreness. I have a half-marathon race this weekend. I confirmed my accommodation in Berlin already, and look forward to some sustainable speed in my legs in the weeks to come. Hoo-Ah!


daftbitch said...

i hope you get that boston marathon slot. So then i can finally say i have a friend who made it there...

Me and matt took a look at the vibram shoes that day at velocity too. It felt strange, when i tried it. Comfortable. Though i can't say for sure, if i might even try running in it. Afterall, the ladies version have that in PINK.

Enrico Varella said...

Thanks, DB! Same here. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed.

Coincidentally I was there in the afternoon. I collected my Tr-Run racekit and bought my first pair of Vibram Bikila. I will test them out soon, as I have requests by barefoot runners to join them this weekend. I hope that you continue to exercise your fitness and options...cheers.