I have been pretty fortunate to not have many injuries from running in the past few years. From June to August I had a lower back spasm but I don’t know for sure that it was caused by running; I did a lot of things to aggravate it. But this past weekend, after running the 6 mile trail run, my ankle swelled. It didn’t swell until four hours after the race, which I thought was odd. I’m sure it had something to do with running through muddy creeks and jumping over trees. 🙂 Things my feet are not accustomed to. The ankle has felt better every day although I am not doing any of my normal walking or running activities. Tonight I am going to Zumba so we’ll see how it feels then.
Even though I have not had many injuries, I know there is a strong possibility that I will have more injuries and a New York Times Magazine article caught my attention. The Once and Future Way to Run written by Christopher McDougall has me thinking about my running stride and how my foot strikes the ground. The article talks a little about the history of running shoes and about the current barefoot or minimalist shoe running trend. But to be able to run barefoot or with minimalist shoes, one has to have the right technique. I have seen a few people running barefoot and some wearing what they call barefoot type running shoes. There is an obvious difference in their strides and it looks like they’re gliding and kind of prancing. In the article McDougall references running coach Alberto Salazar, who teaches the technique, and says it is injury-proof running. Alright, I’m listening, er, still reading; how do we do it?!
McDougall says a great way to learn the barefoot-style stride is to do 100-Up exercises (developed by W.G. George around 1908). There is a video along with the article that gives a demonstration of the 100-Up. The biggest no-no is landing on the heel, initial contact should be between the ground and the ball of your foot. I know that’s the way I should be running, but I don’t really know if I am hitting with my heel. Why? Because I have cushy shoes! The point of the minimalist shoes or going barefoot is that you know exactly where your foot hits the ground and can if you’re doing it right. That makes sense to me.
So, am I going to start running barefoot? Not likely. There are still ways to injure the feet on pavement even with the correct stride, plus I’m allergic to bees and wasps and I don’t want to risk getting stung. Will I ever run with minimalist shoes? Possibly, but first I am going to start doing the 100-Up exercises and see how it feels. McDougall says this running style feels effortless – why wouldn’t I want to give it a try?