I finally finished the book and with some up’s and some downs’, I’d say overall it was a good read. I didn’t care for the ending but nonetheless it got me thinking about the way I look at running. I’ve been running since I was about 8 years old when I participated in a local cross-country team called Warriors, this only lasted one year and I moved on to play soccer which I enjoyed much more. But little did I know that cross-country would soon be a part of my life again when I joined the high school team my sophomore year as a way to train in the off-season for soccer, I continued with track, and even earned my Varsity cross-country letter before the end of junior year. I continued to find love through running in college where it helped me keep those ‘Freshman 15’ off and recover after a night of partying with my sorority sisters. But it was after college when I trained for my first marathon through team in training when I really fell in love with running. I enjoyed running miles while catching up with my girlfriends and recovering with a good ice bath and a long nap. Unfortunately the outcome of my marathon was a 6-month hiatus from running due to an injury. This sparked my interest in learing more about ‘barefoot running’ and after my husband read this book a few years ago I decided finally it was time to learn more about this phenomenon.
Let me start by saying this book is not 100% about ‘barefoot running’ but about a remote tribe in Mexico that makes running a part of their everyday lives. This tribe of men and women run in a basic strappy leather sandal all over the surrounding mountains of their village. A promoter got their interest in ultra-marathons (50+miles) and they started competing with people all over the world. The end of the book brings together infamous ultra-runners from all over America to the tribes village for an epic ultra-marathon. The bottom line is that these people do not run for exercise, but for the joy of running. It is more of a game than a competition between these athletes which they each have a strong passion for.
There is however, a few chapters dedicated to the evolution of the running shoe. How Nike started off with a simple shoe and it has evolved into this billion dollar business idea. When in all actuality, people are getting more injured with the ‘fancy’ shoes of today vs. the basic shoe of yesterday. This in turn is why Nike developed the Nike free shoe which is their version of the vibram five-finger (bare-foot running). It allows for easy on the feet but support from rocks and other textiles that your feet might hit while out on the road. These tribal people do not wear any special running shoes and they have no injuries and run till they are elders. And in some cases the elders are better runners than the younger generations. Interviews with podiatrists within the book state that our own bodies are designed to be able to maintain balance without the support of shoes.
As you already know, if you have been reading my blog, I started ‘barefoot’ running in the beginning of this year. And I have now run up to 5 miles since I’m training for a 1/2 marathon in November. I do feel like my body feels lighter and my feet feel more flexible over these past few months. But I had to go out and get the special toe socks to go into my vibrams because they stretched so much that my toes were rubbing. This has helped a little but I still seem to be getting blisters on my big toes. I haven’t been as good as I vowed to be with stretching and I’m paying the price because my hips are starting to ache. So I’ve incorporated my yoga into my weekly routine as well as stretching with a foam roller whenever possible. I’ll continue to blog my barefoot running journey as I increase my miles each week… to be continued!