Having just finished Born to Run (brilliant book, if you haven’t read it yet BUY IT NOW!), I’ve come to the conculsion that the answer to all my problems is to learn how to run (and live) like a Taramuhara, so I’ve ditched my orthotics, and started to work on strengthening my feet and ankles.
I’ve ordered a pair of these beauties from Merrell and downloaded their FREE Go Barefoot app which aims to get you ready to run a mile barefoot in 4 weeks, through exercises and activities. I’m only on the 1st week, but I think it might take me a bit longer as my ankles are so weak. The shoes are designed to help prepare your feet for barefoot (they are an inbetweeny shoe hence why they are called Barefoot Access), and as practically every shoe I have has a heel, I plan on wearing these and NO heels whilst I’m on my holibobs. We’re off to Florida, so there’ll be plenty of walking around Theme parks for the 1st week, followed by walks on the beach and hopefully a bit of running when we hit Clearwater for the 2nd week. I’ve instigated a no shoe policy in the house too and can already feel a difference in my stability.Since taking up running I’ve constantly suffered with achilles pain, becuase I land really heavily on my heels. In my head, I’ve always thought to be good at running you have to take long slow strides, lift your legs really high and POUND the pavement, but after reading a couple of running books, I’ve realised that it’s far better to take smaller strides more often. I used to run with my centre of gravity slightly back, with my back hunched over and my arms swinging wildly, whilst with my heels took all the force of my strides. No wonder I had constant achilles problems and lower calf muscles as tight as a wound spring – my body is not designed to run like that.
I realise this change isn’t going to happen overnight. I went out in my Skecher ProSpeeds tonight, as they promote a midfoot strike which is a move in the right direction. This forces me to carry my centre of gravity forward, and rather than running with my heels striking in front of me, I concentrated on ensuring that I was always pushing them behind me, so that I landed on the middle/front of my foot. I tried a faster foot strike – the book says to aim for 180 spm I reckon I was somewhere around 160. I’ll be honest I found it hard, I had to constantly think about what my feet were doing, keeping my weight over my knees, keeping my back straight and my head up and flicking my heels back rather than pushing them forward. It’s hard changing a habit, and it’s going to take me a while to get used to it, but I saw and felt an INSTANT improvement today, so I will work at it. I ran 3m in 33 minutes, the only walk breaks I had were 2 x 25m to take on some water as it was really hot. And best of all, I did it without orthotics and my achilles feel fine! Hurrah!
I know barefoot is not for everyone, I don’t even know if it’s for me yet. But I’m sure looking forward to trying!