A few years ago, I was your typical office-worker: stressed out, uneven energy, overweight, and inconsistent complexion. Now I'm just your typical 28-year old urban hunter-gatherer on a quest to be healthy, and having a few adventures along the way. See my full bio.
It's not about the shoes (NYCBR in the Times Magazine)
This is cool. The upcoming Times Magazine features the New York City Barefoot Run in an article by Christopher McDougall. The article is about people who wear minimalist running shoes, but still run with bad form -- and an old technique to get improve your form.
If everything comes together just right, you’ll be exactly where Larson was one Sunday morning in September: peeking out from behind a tree on Governors Island in New York Harbor, his digital video camera nearly invisible on an ankle-high tripod, as the Second Annual New York City Barefoot Run got under way about a quarter-mile up the road. Hundreds of runners — men and women, young and old, athletic and not so much so, natives from 11 different countries — came pattering down the asphalt straight toward his viewfinder.
But the article makes an enormously important point: running in minimalist shoes doesn't guarantee good form.
“Barefoot-style” shoes are now a $1.7 billion industry. But simply putting something different on your feet doesn’t make you a gliding Tarahumara. The “one best way” isn’t about footwear. It’s about form. Learn to run gently, and you can wear anything. Fail to do so, and no shoe — or lack of shoe — will make a difference.
That’s what Peter Larson discovered when he reviewed his footage after the New York City Barefoot Run. “It amazed me how many people in FiveFingers were still landing on their heels,” he says. They wanted to land lightly on their forefeet, or they wouldn’t be in FiveFingers, but there was a disconnect between their intentions and their actual movements.
Take a look at these heel strikes at the NYCBR in minimalist shoes...and even barefoot.
This is one of the areas, incidentally, where Vibram has failed on a massive scale. They've sold millions of pairs of FiveFingers, but they've done next to nothing to help those people run with proper form and avoid injury. With every pair of VFFs sold, they should be providing basic instructions on barefoot running form.
We've got to re-wire our nervous system and get rid of the bad habits. McDougall writes about an old training technique he re-discovered that helps people develop the proper form.
I was leafing through the back of an out-of-print book, a collection of runners’ biographies called “The Five Kings of Distance,” when I came across a three-page essay from 1908 titled “W. G. George’s Own Account From the 100-Up Exercise.” According to legend, this single drill turned a 16-year-old with almost no running experience into the foremost racer of his day.
For the actual technique, go read the full article. And don't forget to attend the 3rd Annual New York City Barefoot Run next year.