I’m old enough to remember when barefoot running, Pose running, and chi running were “new” (to a lot of people in the US) and seemingly revolutionary. It was about ten years ago, and the revolution was instigated in great part by Chris McDougall’s exhilarating page-turner Born to Run – which was in great part about people who have been running barefoot (or in simple sandals) for hundreds of years. 😉 So when this video recently posted, titled to sound like a revelation in running (“You’ve Been Running Wrong”), I may have rolled my eyes a bit. But I like host Rich Roll and many of his guests, so I watched it.
In general, my opinion remains unchanged: the video really says nothing the Pose and barefoot and chi running advocates weren’t already telling us ten years ago. But it did make me wistful for my old New Balance Minimus trail shoes, and the rugged feel of a trail’s surface under my feet as I run.
When the barefoot/minimalist running craze first erupted, I was in graduate school for the second time, and was working part-time at a fun little running store in San Francisco called See Jane Run. I schooled myself in the biomechanics of running in minimalist shoes so that I could sell them in good conscience – and I’m happy to say that very few of the shoes I sold came back to the store while I worked there (though I wonder how many people are still wearing them). And I remain convinced that my New Balance Minimus shoes worked well for me at the time (I alternated them with the Saucony Peregrine and Brooks Green Silence [RIP] when I needed a little “cush”).
As I have acknowledged in several other posts, I am a big fan of chi running, and firmly believe it gave me 5 or 6 more years of running after relentless knee problems made me give up on it for most of a decade. Then came five years on the chemopreventive medication anastrazole, with its delightful side-effect combination of weight gain and bone pain, and I lost that momentum. Not to mention cartilage. Now the possibility of running again is truly remote, which is quite the bummer. But darned if that barefoot running video didn’t get me started on doing some leg-conditioning exercises to see if maybe, maybe, maybe I can get something going. Heck, wouldn’t it be fun if – in May 2020 – I run my second half-marathon ever, ten years after my first one? (Next month I’ll be walking a half marathon in Dayton, Ohio with some dear and determined friends.)
Pete Larson’s RunBlogger is a blog I used to read pretty religiously back in the day. He reviewed oodles of minimalist shoes with an impressive degree of geekery. I’m glad to see that he’s still posting occasionally, and even returning to running after a break of his own (he’s just a pup… in his forties). His words of wisdom:
I’ve come to think of my race history as just that – history. I have my 30’s PRs, and now it’s time to work on my 40’s PRs. I don’t know that I’ll ever beat any of my old times, but that’s OK. I’ve been away from racing for long enough that the gap has cleaned the slate a bit. It’s time to move forward. … (I)f you haven’t raced in a long time because you are scared of not living up to past performances, sign up for a race now. Give yourself a realistic goal and go for it…
I know that talking about running again will generate some eye rolls in folks who’ve been hearing me say this for five or more years. And I’m not entirely unrealistic; I did, after all, just have a lengthy conversation about the timing of my eventual knee replacement with my ortho doc. But I’ve got some old-dog tricks to try first.