I’m reading that book that every runner should read. Or every one who has feet should read. Or even people without feet should read. Born to Run was recommended to me by a friend and I ordered it from The Book Depository. Free shipping worldwide? Was it too good to be true? Almost. I waited one month until finally a knock at the door one sunny morning in Obregon and voila! It appeared! My book!
So first of all you need to know a couple things about me: I have awful feet. Or so I have been told my entire life. I started playing basketball when I was 8. My brother and I were in a mixed under 10s league and our mum was the coach. It was awesome. We won the B division and I still remember the game as though it was the ultimate underdog story with someone in our team scoring the winning basket just seconds before the buzzer.
I continued to play basketball all throughout my middle and high school years. At one point when I was about 13 I was playing/practicing about 14 times a week for 3 different teams. My feet hurt. They hurt so badly that after practice I’d take off my shoes and cry. When I woke up in the mornings I wouldn’t be able to stand because of the pain so I would crawl down the stairs and complain during breakfast until my feet warmed up and felt a bit better. I have no idea why I didn’t tell my coach. I think I was scared of her, so I just kept going. One day after practice my Dad had had enough so he took me to the A&E. And so it began…
It turned out I had a double stress fracture in my foot. One near my big toe and one near the fourth toe. I was passed from podiatrist to podiatrist to orthopedic surgeon and back to podiatrist. I heard the word ‘pronated’ so many times it just became a normal part of my vocabulary. I wore moon boots, I had moulds made of my feet, I was trialled in many a running shoe. They begged me to get off my feet: just swim instead! they told me. But anyone who runs or plays a sport, knows what it’s like to be told to stop. I needed more opinions and every opinion said the same thing: get good orthodics, get better running shoes, and run less. I actually did eventually stop playing basketball. But I took up running (go figure) and have run many half marathons, 5 & 10kms and a few adventure races.
We were a bit geeky…:P
So I’ve been reading this book born to run and it is so captivating. Even more so when I discovered that a lot of the book takes place roughly eight hours away from where we’ve been living in Obregon. There’s so much to talk about – the whole book is just mind blowing – but what really grabbed my attention was the whole ‘barefoot running’ debate. Prior to reading this book I thought that anyone who ran barefoot was crazy, because every foot doctor I’ve ever seen has told me that we NEED SHOES. But really? When you really think about it, it sounds mental. I read somewhere that it’s like putting a cast around your neck and then taking it off and wondering why you have no strength. Apparently ALL running injuries are modern injuries, ie. have only existed since the invention of the running shoe!
From the author of Born to Run:
I began drilling into running-shoe research, and the further I went, the less I found. There’s nothing there. Nothing. No evidence whatsoever that running shoes do anything. Know why you’ve never seen an ad for a running shoe that actually tells you what the shoe will do? Because there is no evidence that running shoes do anything to prevent injuries. None. In fact, research currently in progress indicates that runners in shoes experience far more impact than runners in bare feet.
I feel a bit silly really. Why didn’t I question the whole running shoe thing earlier? Well duh, because the doctors told me it was the best thing for me. And as a 14 year old, you don’t really question the professionals. But the older I get, the more and more I realise the importance of questioning everything. The importance of keeping an open mind and reading lots and asking lots of questions and testing things out for myself as much as I can and never just accepting one answer from one person or even one answer from lots of people. Because theories are constantly being disproved, new solutions are always being discovered and curiosity is what drives us forward.
So I’m most definitely going to give this barefoot running thing a try. My feet can’t get much worse (way to jinx it though) and I’m so curious.
There’s plenty of places to read more if this kind of thing interests you. I did some googling so you don’t have to:
- Read Born to Run
- Check out the author talking about the Barefoot Running debate
- How to start barefoot running
- So you want to run barefoot?
- An interview with Barefoot Ted (a modern day barefoot running pioneer)
- The barefoot philosophy
- And the complete guide to barefoot running
If you’re a barefoot runner or have tried it out, I’d love to hear your stories!