Friday, 18 June 2010

The running thing

A side-effect of all that training for Trailwalker is that I'm now quite a lot fitter than I was before. Which is a good thing, because these days I find myself running for trains on a regular basis. I've even had the odd, quickly suppressed thought that I could take up running as a form of regular exercise.

I've never been much of a runner. It used to be that I was simply too unfit. But there's also been a second reason that continues to prevent me. I run like a girl. On my toes. Arms doing ... whatever. I've never forgotten being given the nickname 'twinkletoes' many years ago and it has made me extremely self-conscious about running. Whenever I try the heel-toe gait it feels really uncomfortable.

But I'm reading a book at the moment that undermines everything that is common knowledge about running. The author uses anecdotal evidence, interviews and personal experience to posit an argument for non-cushioned running shoes and running on the balls of the feet, instead of the heel-toe action. It calls into question many other podiatry ideals as well - particularly the use of orthotics.

The book is Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, and I will review it in detail when I've finished. But the section I was reading today on the train focused on the natural wonder of the foot arch, and questioned that if we wouldn't support an arch in engineering terms (it's unthinkable) then why would we support it in the foot? Basically, by wearing modern trainers (invented by Nike in the 70s) we are supposedly making our feet weak and causing injury.

It's fascinating stuff, and quite persuasive. What I found myself pondering this afternoon is that maybe it's OK for me to run on my toes, so to speak. Certainly this book seems to advocate running barefoot, with the heel never actually contacting the ground.

It also calls into question my addiction to wearing Birkenstocks. I'd hate to think my 7-odd pairs are bad for my feet!

1 comment:

  1. Strange as this may sound, I run best in high heels! Of course, I am not normally running like this for a long period of time, but I it certainly feels quite comfortable to do so. But I do notice that I can't get the same rhythm in normal running shoes. So based on a sample space of one, I would concur with the idea of running on the balls of ones feet!