Why I run: Wing Tipped Shoes with the Divots

 

Wing Tipped Shoes with the Divots
Grandpa's Black Leather Brogues

After my grandpa’s funeral, I trudged into the backroom were he passed away. I took off my dark blazer, white shirt, tie, and slacks and replaced them with blue shorts and white t-shirt. (My parent’s house was full; so I had to stay in the one room every one else wanted to avoid.)

I ran five miles that day. It was clear and sunny as is the case in California most of the year. My heart felt dead and heavy like tarnished lead. My neck slumped me toward the ground, my arms barely swung by my side; for the first few miles, I was miserable.

But around mile four, a presence overcame me.  And I imagined Grandpa Perez as a teenager. His hair was freshly cut, short, thick, full, and lampblack; his figure tawny the color of bronze. He wore dark brown polyester shorts that were too tight, a bright white shirt (also way too tight), and, of course, his world famous black leather brogues. The shoes made me chuckle.  I wonder if they ever left his feet. I suspect he may even have been buried in them. They had divots around the stitches, which, for some unspeakable reason, I associate with carpentry–the trade that brought him to California and which supported my young father until he was old enough to enlist in the Airforce. They were “nice shoes”: the kind I imagine an old world cobbler repairing with delight.

Even though my grandpa seemed sort of ridiculous in that outfit, his bones were no longer brittle as chalk, his skin was no longer like buzzard’s chin spattered with tan shoe polish, and his lungs no longer gurgled with each terrible gasping breath. For the last mile, my grandpa was young, strong, and full of life again. For the last mile, my grandpa was a runner, like me.

Rest in Peace Grandpa.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

What Barefoot Dreams May Come?

G.-B. Duchanne de Boulogne, Synoptic plate 4 f...
Image via Wikipedia

“What dreams may come…?” That’s the plot device Shakespeare used to stop Hamlet from ruining the tragedy. Death, Hamlet decides, is too mysterious; why “fly off” to new troubles? Instead, he stays alive and essentially kills everyone he loves.

But the dreams of today are not road blocks to suicide.  Quite the opposite. The dreams of today are the automatic million dollar money machine cash bank, the instant rejuvenating, anti age cream that boosts metabolism while increasing libido and leads to world domination. The dreams of today are incentives.

Marketers sell hope and make desire. How? They speak to the heart, not to the brain. Logic comes AFTER the emotional decision to buy. It’s not good it’s not bad. But it’s the way marketing works. So, they appeal to our feelings, they tell us stories or better, yet they try to get us to tell ourselves stories.

The Barefoot Running Industry is no different. Take this commercial which stars long distance running super star, Anthony Krupicka.


The music, the scenic footage, the “all natural” feel are not accidental. The ad is designed to make you dream of injury free barefoot running. It sells the dream of being an all natural runner.

The reality of barefoot running is that you’ll probably get injured at some point. You’ll step on glass, aggravate your Achilles, stub your toe, or have pain on the top of your foot. The dream of injury free running is there. But the reality is too. There’s nothing wrong with dealing with running injuries. I have had my share from running barefoot.

It seemed that I traded upper body problems for lower leg problems when I started out. I’m still getting over a terrible tear in my right calf. Yet, I’m still running barefoot.

Am I crazy? Maybe a little. Am I glutton for punishment? Maybe a little. Do I secretly hate myself? Maybe a little less. But I carry on not because I’m chasing some dream of injury free running, but because running barefoot actually makes me ENJOY running. That isn’t a dream. That’s a reality. I look forward to my barefoot runs.

While I do think that many of my lower leg injuries have disappeared, I don’t think they’ll be gone forever. My feet are much stronger than before. But I think that constantly running on hard concrete regularly does test the integrity of the foot.

Maybe injury free running isn’t a dream, maybe this time next year I’ll have a different view. But won’t sell that dream until it’s real.

I’m not barefoot runner because I think it will keep me from being injured. I’m a barefoot runner because I love the way it feels, I like being connected directly to the earth, I enjoy feeling the wet cold asphalt, the squish of moist fallen leaves, and the rough texture of the road; heck, there’s even a part of me that enjoys the glowers from my neighbors.

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 More Reasons to Be Square and Run Bare

 

  1. Image by davida3 via Flickr

    If you desire, you can walk on fire–barefoot running gives you thicker, stronger soles.

  2. Vanquish the foes of your toes (pause) and heels. Running without shoes eliminates heel blisters and “black toenail”.
  3. Improve sensation relations between you and the earth. Running with shoes is like kissing someone with a bag over your head. Your feet are as finely wired for sensation as your lips. Kiss mother earth with all your sole.
  4. Bash Trash. Running bare motivates your neighbors to keep the streets clean and debris free. Also no more used  running shoes to throw away in landfills.
  5. Less Harm(a) for Your Karma. It’s easier to avoid snails, slugs, and beetles and tiny beings when running unshod.
Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Start Running in Free Shoes

Nike Air Max LTD 2
Image via Wikipedia

Candy wants to get fit fast. She asks herself : “How do I start running without getting hurt?”
Her brain’s response: “Go shoe shopping!”

At the shoe store, Candy sees and army of brands: asics, new balance, Nike, saucany, not to mention these funny looking “barefoot shoes”.

She decides to go home to do some research. Wow! Amazon sells  them online. Then the question hits: “What size am I again?”. Last time she took up running she was 9.5 in Nike, but the time before that she was 10 in Asics. She saw one barefoot shoe site that had videos about how to make a template of her foot for to a custom pair.  But it was too much trouble.

A pair of ASICS running shoes, model GEL-Kinsei
Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately for most of the Candys out there, high priced or custom fit running shoe won’t do the running for them. In fact, Candy’s foot might not fit  into the factory made, mass produced pair of running shoes. Sports shoes are a joke; they’re full of gimmicks such as asics “gel” even the toe glove for five fingers or the special cushioning of saucony. Candy might be better off trail running  in a plain pair of tennis shoes like the low top converse all stars than the high tech brands she saw online or at the running store. Almost any pair of walking shoes that fit her feet would serve well for running.

Candy needs to know that it’s not the shoes; it’s the runner. Athletic shoes and sport shoes can’t trail run for her. The running store wants her to think they will. They want her to believe that the shoes will magically fix all her bad bio-mechanics that they’ll make her faster, leaner, and lighter. But they won’t. The best shoes in life are free.

Don’t get me wrong, shoes are good tools for improving form. They can compensate for bad bio mechanics and keep Candy running by alleviating the strain on her foot, but they don’t solve her core issues with running.

So, I give to Candy a pair of free shoes and a few free resources  about how to start running without shoes:

Enhanced by Zemanta

Unexpected Pleasures of Running Barefoot

The happy family ...

I have written about the annoying things people said to me when they first saw me running without shoes. Lately, the comments have shifted.

One lady said, “I like your style.” Two of my neighbor’s children saw me running bare and ran along side me for a few blocks.  In fact, my neighbor’s are so used to seeing me run without shoes that they say things like, “Not going bare today” when they see me running in sandals.

It’s odd. Like most things unconventional, barefoot running brings out the best and worst in people. I’m glad my neighbors are getting used to my naked ass feet stomping through our rough streets. I have a feeling that when spring hits, I won’t be the only one running without shoes.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Haunted Shoes: The Harm of Over-Pronation

Pronation and below, supination (19DYp12)
Image by sportEX magazines via Flickr

Did you know that:  “Gait is the single most complex motor function of the human body?”

It involves half of the body’s 650 muscles and 200 bones, along with a large share of the joints and ligaments. (Dr. Rossi)

As many of you know I suffered from serious barefoot running injuries when I started running without shoes. I partially ruptured both Achilles tendons, I severely ripped my calf muscle, and I suffered a little top of foot pain.

After some recovery and conscious effort, I have FINALLY DISCOVERED the SOURCE of my Lower Leg Barefoot Running Injuries. In addition to “going to far too fast” a major cause was OVER-pronation.

Yes, I know some pronation is natural and good, but OVER pronation is NOT. It can damage your lower leg.

Here is text-book Runner’s World Explanation of Over-Pronation and the by the book, orthotic fix for it:

The problem I had was the bad habit of walking and running wrong. My shoes had allowed me to walk with klonky unhealthy steps and strides. They allowed me to over-pronate with impunity. However, when I took off my shoes, my body let me know right away that something was wrong.

By trail and error, I discovered the secret to my particular problem. It was to straighten my feet. I tended to angle my feet outward, this put a lot of stress on torn calf. In fact, I can tell right away if I’m falling back into the old stride because my calf will bark at me if let my foot angle out.

This video about Chi running has some practical advice about how to correct over-pronation with better form, rather than with orthotics.

Danny Dreyer describes Chi running form and the use of shoes, but I applied his suggestion to my barefoot form and they have helped tremendously. Pointing my feet straight forward rather than angling them has eased a lot of stress to lower leg. It takes conscious effort, but it’s worth it. In a few days, I will post a video of about this and show some of the other tricks I learned about proper barefoot running form.

The problem with shoes is that simply cover-up the dangers of bad form. It’s like bailing water from a leaky boat instead of fixing the leak. Orthotics will make you bail until the boat finally sinks; going barefoot will put you in a shiny new yacht.


3 Easy Barefoot Running Programs.

Discourse-into-the-night
Image via Wikipedia

As I have mentioned many times, barefoot running has to be eased into. In fact, many responsible, barefoot shoe makers, such as SoftStar, are putting caveats on their products. You can, however, discuss deep philosophical topics without shoes or special training like these scholars of old.

In the “how to run barefoot” section of my site, I include a video that has step by step instructions about how to start running barefoot. But some people prefer reading and want to have a schedule. So, here are three resources to help first timers make the transition to barefoot running:

  1. The utter beginner program. For people who haven’t run a while and want to start out in their barefeet.
  2. The shod to shodless runner. For people who run in bouncy shoes, but want to become hippie barefoot runners.
  3. The “common sense” approach. This is for people who want advice from a Harvard man. Yes, it’s Lieberman.  Lieberman is a luminary  in the barefoot running community. His paper about the evolutionary roots of running explains much about the our biological need for cardio vasular exercise: “endurance running is a derived capability of the genus Homo, originating about 2 million years ago, and may have been  instrumental in the evolution of the human body form.”
Enhanced by Zemanta

Barefooting at Timberline Lodge

The Overlook (Timberline Lodge) as seen in a s...
Image via Wikipedia

I am lucky and honored to live in Sandy, OR. We’re minutes from majestic Mount Hood. My wife and I often drive up to Timberline Lodge to hike around. If you’ve ever seen Kubrick’s frightening movie, The Shining, then you’ve seen the exterior of the Timberline.

 

Cover of
Cover of The Shining

Lodge. I still get chills when I see the scene with the twins.

But this is the first year I’ve hiked Timberline barefoot. Wow! What a difference no shoes makes! The ground up there offers so many exciting textures; it’s rocky, but not as hard on your feet as you would think. The best part of hiking up there was the patches of snow! After tromping through each tiny field of the icy delight, my feet were greeted with warm gravel earth. The blood rushed to my soles filling them with a pleasant sensation that crept up to my ankles.

It was the Mt. Hood Mountain Massage. And I consider it a great honor. I’ve hiked there many times before but I feel much more connected with place now that I’ve hiked it barefoot. You get the sense that you’re interacting with mountain–almost having a dialogue with it.

Of course got some wicked glances from shod folk who must have thought I was crazy to be up there barefoot. (I did, however, bring a pack with snow emergency gear–yes there were warm shoes in there. I’m not stupid. I respect the mountain weather.) But I also got an unexpected compliment. As I was crossing a snow barefoot a little girl tugged on her momy’s arm and said, “Mommy mommy, can I take off my shoes and walk in the snow!” Her mother said, “No, dear; of course not.” But I couldn’t help laughing. Deep down everyone wants to walk barefoot in the snow. It’s almost as fun as skinny dipping in the Old Salmon River.

Enhanced by Zemanta

5 & 1/18 Secrets to Blistered Feet & Fouled Shoes Why I hate Vibram Five Fingers

  1. Double Bubble Blisters

    Vibrams will make your feet look as if they were dipped in hot lava. Monstrous, ugly

    A woman wears Vibram
    Image via Wikipedia

    oozing blisters burst like bubbles in cannibal stew.The shoes are  elegant black gardens for world class germs. Only infection can blossom in such foul ground.

  2. Hot Brewed Stench

    Vibrams can brew a wicked and unforgivable stench. It’s a funky and deeply disturbing odor. I like to imagine there is an organic exterminator who uses the Vibram fumes to kill weeds and maybe even as a replacement for “bug bomb” in a toxic tent.

  3. Sole Shock

    Vibrams do offer some minor arch support and the sole is relatively thick for a barefoot shoe. As a result, some runners still heel strike when they wear them. In fact, Oberman got a stress fracture from running with a heavy stride in Vibrams.

  4. Stupid as Blue Mountains

    The toe glove/squid mitten is dumb. The forced separation of the toes does nothing for your foot. It’s just a marketing gimmick–kind like those stupid Coors Cold Activated Bottles; even if the mountain’s are blue, you’re better off eating yellow snow.

  5. Shoe Struggles

    It took me 5 minutes to get the damned  things on my foot. Sandals take less than a minute and that includes a custom, gladiator style lace.

    5 & 1/18. Vibrams have too many pronunciations (eg vEEbrUM, vEEbrAM, v-EYE-brum, v-EYEbrAM. I’m sure there are others). Sandals have one.

Enhanced by Zemanta

6 Eyed Barefoot Doodle

Your eyes shut; sometimes, the darkness remains; but sometimes, an image appears.

I was drawing up a rough for another illustration when a creature with 6 eyes popped burst from darkness.

This illustration isn’t an exact represenation of the image I saw.But it distills the idea and emotion I felt when the vision came to me. When my eyes were shut, I saw a wookie type creature with 6 eyes staring upward. I drew the wookie, but it didn’t move me.  So, I just sort of let my hand move, the way a medium does when she is automatic writing. This image is result of my doodling.

My wife said that she saw a bird stealing one of the figure’s eyes in an early stage of this sketch–which was really just a scramble of scribbles. That wasn’t what I experienced. What I sensed when I saw the image in my mind’s eye was the figure both offering and losing part of his vision. That he had six eyes remaining was important.

Enhanced by Zemanta