I have to start this post by painting a picture of where I was yesterday.
I was in the middle of a longer run, a brace on my left knee because it reminds me to be gentle with the pulled hamstring on that leg, and an ankle brace on the right foot because I broke it in second grade and it’s always been a pain in the you-know-what. I was also wearing my SI-joint brace yesterday because my low back and hips were feeling particularly feisty as I continued one step in front of the other. I had a moment of truth with myself then and accepted that running is not easy on my body. Some people were built for this sport, and I was not (simple enough, right?). I think running is more mental than physical, and it is the mental aspect that has me hooked. Work may be stressful, school may be overwhelming—but nothing seems quite so hard after a nice long run. Plus, they say that running increases brain function, which helps with homework. Win-win.
Okay, so to the real point of this post:
Since I started my weight loss journey around nine years ago, I have long championed the importance of buying really good shoes. I started out as a hardcore walker, getting to the point where I walked 20 miles a day (broken up between the morning and evening, not all at once). I started running after my walking mile speed topped out at 10:30, and I felt like I couldn’t improve any more on the walk. Going from a walker to a runner, I think my stride suffered a bit. My walking stride was extremely wide with a strong heel strike. I think I initially brought that wide stride to my run, but wide strides are really hard on the lower back, and I’ve stopped that now. Do you know what hasn’t stopped? That hard heel strike.
Nick was watching something on TV the other night about the Tarahumara. These people are renowned for their long-distance running, and they do it all barefoot or nearly barefoot. Without shoes, people tend to land on the midfoot instead of the heel, which tempers the impact of the ground before jarring the hips and low back. The next day, I attempted to run with this in mind, pointing my toe on the way down so that I would not land on my heel.
Guys, this works. I put in two ten mile runs a day apart, and I felt great. I don’t think I have the guts to actually go 100% barefoot, at least not yet. I am debating, however, whether or not to try the barefoot alternative available. I felt like I was running through mud in March and April. I am hoping that I can make May a little more fun on the running front.