I really enjoy running. Well, sometimes I hate it and sometimes I love it, but on average I really enjoy it. Recently, my excitement for running led me to cross paths with the book Born to Run, and it has had a profound impact on my running and my life as well.
Born to Run
The book Born to Run is the combination of a fun story about a race in Mexico and a history of running for humans. The basic premise of the book is that humans are designed to run, and I’m not just talking a few miles, but very long distances. Furthermore, Born to Run suggests that shoes have been one of the worst things to happen to humans ever and that we need to find our way back to our barefoot roots to really regain the benefits of running. The author even claims that America’s commercialization of running and running shoes has ruined the country’s ability to compete against countries whose people run for life and the love of running.
All together, the best takeaways from the book are
- Humans can run further (although slower) than most other land animals due to our two leg design.
- The best way to succeed in running is to truly love to run and not to run for fame or money.
- Barefoot running helps by unlocking sensors in feet that help people run with better posture and form.
I decided to test out the barefoot running theory by buying a pair of Bikilas from Vibram Five Fingers. These shoes, which are named after Abebe Bikila who won the 1960 Olympic marathon while barefoot, are specially designed for barefoot running and make you feel like you are running barefoot while protecting the foot from sharp objects like glass. Since most people are not used to running barefoot, it is not something to jump straight in to, but after some careful training it can have a big difference.
For me, my barefoot running experiment has been a huge success for a few reasons.
- Running barefoot forces a more mid-foot landing which increases work and eventually strengthens the calves and ankle region.
- Running barefoot massages the feet and uses them for what seems like the first time ever – regular shoes now make me wonder if my feet have gone numb.
- Running barefoot improves posture and alleviates pressure from the knees and thighs.
- Running barefoot adds an exciting new element to running – granted, this won’t last forever.
Final Thoughts on Running
In the end, Born to Run has changed my perspective on running. Instead of running being a task I have to do because I sit at a desk too much and I need to be healthy, running is something that we can all really enjoy if we approach it as we were designed to. Don’t burn yourself out of running, but find a way to enjoy jogs through your town or local parks by focusing on the journey. The Bikilas have added a nice touch to the enjoyment of running for me and seem to be making it a more productive activity.