Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must out run the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must be faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or gazelle- when the sun comes up, you ‘d better be running.
Last May, Mark gave me Born to Run written by Christopher McDougall. I finally had the opportunity to read it this past weekend while traveling. The book is awesome. I’ve been struggling to get back into running at the level I was at last year. Last fall I was competing in a different half marathon for 5 months straight and hitting new personal records each time. And then, like most people who over train, I gave myself an awful shin splint (or possible stress fracture). The book showcases several impressive ultra-runners as well as a tribe in northern Mexico that is known for its running ability. All of the ultra runners run because of the joy of it, while I’m sure many of them keep track of how far they are running, nutrition ect, the book make it seems like they were all simply running for the sake of running in the purest form. With no upcoming races, I am focusing on running just for the sake of it. Running has some fantastic effects of stress and overall health, and with my school being the zoo that it is, it’s important for me to get some kind of release that doesn’t include Sam Adams.
Since the book does focus on the history of running and running in our natural state, it also talks quite about barefoot running. While the author himself still runs in normal shoes, it does bring up the obvious arguments for barefoot running. For a while, I have been adamant against the barefoot craze. I believe that our bodies have evolved to a point that running without shoes no longer seems natural. My family is not a family of runners, there are no running genes being passed around the C household. I also believe that running barefoot only simulates our natural state while in grassy fields or trails. Our ancestors were not running barefoot marathons on asphalt and hard concrete. While I still fully support both of my arguments, I did start to understand the idea of having a lighter, less cushioning shoe. Shoes with too much cushioning change the way we run, which in turn causes more injuries. I decided I would give the Nike Free’s a chance for a bit to see if my constant shin pain would subside if I allowed my feet to move and rotate as nature intended. So today, I took the metro from school to the capitol and ran along the mall for a nice 4 mile run. The frees feel great, no pain at all, with my feet or my shins and I could tell that I was striking the ground more with my mid-foot rather than my heel like when I wear Nike Pegasus. So far I am a happy customer, as I increase my mileage I may need to switch out, but for now I’m excited to become more of a minimalist runner.
There’s something so universal about that sensation, the way running unites our two most primal impulses: fear and pleasure, we run when we’re scared, we run when we are ecstatic, we run away from our problems and run around for a good time