Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Barefootin' it

I have been almost entirely running barefoot or with my Vibrams for a bit now.  My form has gotten better and I don't have to think about it as much.  It's not automatic yet and I find myself having to make corrections throughout the runs but it is getting there.

Vibram held its first barefoot clinic at City Sports this past Saturday as they unveiled their new shoe, the Bikila.  I partied in town the night before then rolled myself out of bed for the early morning clinic.  As luck would have it I got to run in the group led by Dr. Daniel Lieberman of the Harvard Human Evolutionary Biology Department, a veritable expert in how the foot works.  We headed out into the cold, wet morning and did a few laps around the Public Gardens.  I believe I was the only one in the group who actually ran barefoot, everyone else had on Vibrams, and I was particularly happy when Dr. Lieberman called my form perfect.  It's the little things in life.

After the run we went back to City Sports where I had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Lieberman directly and learn all about the correct form, how the foot works, and what caused the pain on the top of my foot (it's a tendon, I had been landing way too far forward on my foot and spearing it into the ground).  Then there was a Q&A with him, Chris McDougall, author of  "Born To Run", Corrado Giambalvo, Vibram tester just ran a 3:32 Boston Marathon in the new Bikilas.

It was really great to be there hearing them talk about a subject they are all really passionate about.  What was so interesting was that they all had vastly different experiences and approaches to how to get started, where to run, etc. and yet there was never a "wrong" answer or way to do something.  The overwhelming attitude was to just have fun, don't listen to anyone else, do what you want to do and what feels good.  The entire experience was very positive and made me more committed to exploring my options as a barefoot runner.

Looking around the store during the clinic I was amazed at how many people had shown up, there had to be a hundred or more.  But eventually that amazement began to change; after all, here it was the weekend before the Boston Marathon and Boston was flooded with thousands and thousands of runners from all around the world, not to mention all the runners who live here, and here we were, a tiny fraction of that number gathered together in a small store to discuss the sport with some of the most versed in the field.  I keep hearing that barefoot running has become mainstream with some accusing it as a simple fad to sell Vibrams or books; but looking around that day I realized that it was the idea of barefoot running that had made the mainstream consciousness.  The art of it was still left to the small minority of us fringe runners that are actually practicing it.

And that makes it all the more cool.

1 comment:

  1. "have fun, don't listen to anyone else, do what you want to do and what feels good" -- best advice I've heard in a long time!