Reading the book “Born To Run” by Christopher McDougall helps with the motivation. About a year ago a colleague recommended the book to me. I was suffering from runner’s knee (knee pain occurring after running for x-minutes). The argument that humans should be able to naturally run without shoes and without experiencing any problems at it made sense to me.
After all, considering how many people experience problems while running, it is highly unlikely that this is the result of all of our bodies being unfit for it. If our bodies where by design unfit for it, it would mean that our genetic material severely degenerated since the end of the Paleolithic age around 12’000 years ago. Back then humans changed from nomadic moving around to being settled and agriculture came to life. Before that, the pressure of natural selection working was on humans as it had done for the past couple of millions of years. That selection pressure would surely have whipped out any deformations that caused humans not to be able to run properly. So, we had good genetic material for running back then (and that is for running without any sort of fancy shoes). It is unlikely that our genes degenerated so much during the past 12’000 years to cause all these issues with running. It is more likely, that is something in our lifestyle – something we are doing, that is the cause of it.
I finished the book in 3 days. It is a well written story and really fun to read. After reading the book I had 3 questions, which I have answered below:
So, how do I now start with barefoot running?
How do I make these Tarahumara huaraches running sandals, or where do I get them?
How do I have to move my feet while running?
How make the running sandals (huaraches)
These sandals are close to barefoot, but still give some protection against glass fragments and the like.
- Make huaraches (Tarahumara running sandals) 1/3
- Make huaraches (Tarahumara running sandals) 2/3
- Make huaraches (Tarahumara running sandals) 3/3
- Making Huaraches – Part 1: Cutting (modern) tires if you want to go with tires, as in the book.
I bought my running sandals from Xero Shoes (aka invisible shoes) and for Europe buy from Xero Shoes UK
If you have issues with the rope rubbing on your feet or have cold feet: use toe socks or tabi socks. I got my socks (brandname Injinji) from Ebay.
How to move your feet and body to run
Here are some good videos from YouTube, that show you how.
- How To Run: DOs & DON’Ts with Dr. Daniel Lieberman, a good intro
- Principles of Natural Running with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, good video capture of the
movement, I did not follow the audio
- Good form running, pay attention to the slight forward lean from the ankles – not the waist
My running experience
I have enjoyed running with these thin sandals for almost a year now. At first, I got aching calf muscles after every run, but that stopped within around 4 months. When I run on surface with small stones that put much pressure on one spot of the foot, it still gives me some pain, but that is also fading slowly. I also run on the treadmill with sandals (I use sandals without a knot on the bottom by Xero Shoes, so it can’t catch onto the treadmill band). Running with thin sandals is very smooth if you do it right. The natural running style gives excellent damping or “cushioning”. I would never go back to “running shoes”. When I put on my running shoes now, I immediately feel how inflexible they are and that they almost completely hinder my feet from all kinds of movements that they now do automatically when running. With my quite expensive shoes, I hit the ground first with the wrong part of the foot, the natural dampening process is severely hindered, and the shoes pull down on my heel at the end of the step – really not a pleasurable experience any more. Why would anyone use these things called “running shoes” for running?
I still have issues while running, but I can run longer while doing less stretching exercises. It is definitively a large improvement.
Three days ago I tried running barefoot without any sandals or socks. I chose a flat road. It was smooth and my feet made almost no sounds at all. However, as I figured out, the right running technique and trained muscles are not everything…. there is another component, that has not adjusted yet: my skin. I stopped running after 10 minutes and return home slowly with blisters on my feet. Damn, running barefoot felt so good.
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