Barefoot and…Running


I ran eight-minute miles today. And not just one, but two–in a row!

That may not be impressive to my sportier readers, but for a woman who is content with one mile every ten minutes (including stops for tractor dodging or wildlife viewing), this is an achievement. And the funny thing was that I wasn’t even trying.

Before you think my favorite Superman t-shirt has imprinted itself upon my subliminal mind, let me clarify: today’s run was purposely going to be s_l_o_w__…

For many weeks, I’ve been wearing Newton running shoes, which train you in the minimalist style. This means that instead of using my heel to break the full force of my significantly jiggling self, my body glides along, with feet pitter-pattering on their forefronts. I envision the graceful lope of a deer, only with a ponytail.

Instead of fighting gravity, this particular stance uses gravity to propel you foreward, which historically is what running is supposed to do.

Anyone with a simple knowledge of the human body knows that an unused muscle atrophies. And I’m no doctor, but I’m fairly sure bones need some type of weight bearing exercise in order to grow stronger, at least, that’s what I read once in “Better Homes and Gardens.”

So what happens to bones and muscles when feet (like mine) have been luxuriously ensconced in Nike or Mizuno for twenty years?

Can it actually create or exasperate problems such as patellofemoral pain syndrome, shin splints or plantar fasciitis?

You may think I’ve gone granola, but I am betting that many of my usual problems (achy arches & old lady knees) will benefit from proper training in the barefoot style.

Enter the Merrell Barefoot Trail Gloves: these are like the Vibram 5 Fingers, only without the creepy toes. And yes, my feet are SO long (and Merrels are SO short) I had to order from the men’s department (please, Merrell, for the love of long, gorgeous feet everywhere, make a woman’s size 12!!!).

Running with the trail gloves was a new, interesting challenge, and I kept wishing I could watch myself run, as I had this fear of not doing it right and breaking all the bones in my feet.

But I think part of barefoot running is that you learn to ‘feel’ when you’re running–that your body (eventually) just knows it’s in the groove.

After the initial feeling I was doing something terribly wrong and unnatural (I mean, ditching my watch AND my high-tech, arch-enabling running shoes) my body fell into a of rhythm of its own.

As I finished my run, I heard the church bells ring 3/4 past the hour. Since I am currently watchless, I dug my phone out of my back pocket to double check the time. I had stepped out of the house at half past.

I mean, there’s no way that could be right.

But the church bells and the iPhone do not lie. I had run my two miles in 16 minutes.

An unintentional personal best.

I wonder what other things I can accomplish when I stop trying so hard?


One response »

  1. Hi Keri,
    I am very intrigued by this barefoot running. I’ve never really looked deeply into it, but I always thought that I would never be suited for such because I have flat feet (ok, my podiatrist says I have the flattest arches he’s ever seen) and have to wear orthotics. I’ve been able to run 2 half marathons with orthotics and my Mizuno runners. Your experience is a lovely example to me and I’d love to hear more about your experience with your Newton shoes.

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