Time to say goodbye to my '09 Brooks Beasts, finally. They have served me and the 12 in 12 challenge admirably, at Carlsbad, Austin, Napa Valley, Salt Lake City, Big Sur and Rock and Roll San Diego. I think they need a rest.
The big question now is...do I get new shoes...or not?
Here's the deal. I have been listening this week to an audiobook, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christoper McDougall, an amazing account of one man's search for an even more amazing tribe of Mexican native runners who, if they had a hankering to, could probably eat those pesky Kenyan/Ethiopian marathon giants for lunch in any race they'd care to enter with them. But there's more.
The author also does in depth research into how the tribe (the Tarahumara) runs, and how those of us in the mainstream run, and how we got to where we are. One of the major differences between the two is that they, the tribe, run hundreds and hundreds of miles, BAREFOOT and uninjured, We, on the other hand, run in shoes that can cost well over $100, that we replace every 300-500 miles, and that may actually be responsible for the worrying statistic that, in any given year, 6-8 of every 10 runners in the United States will suffer at least one injury that sidelines them, at least temporarily.
Now, I will admit that, in each of the 26 marathons I have run I have seen at least one shoeless runner, and have either not given them much more than a passing glance or rated them an 11 on a 1 -10 nuttiness scale. In last weekend's Rock and Roll San Diego, however, I was pretty much stride-for-stride much of the time with a guy sporting a perfect tan, no shirt and barefeet. He seemed to be having a grand old time, and he got me to thinking then, more than ever, about the sans shoe approach. (One thinks about some goofy stuff during the latter miles of a marathon!!)Little did I know that just a few days later I'd be listening to someone explain his bliss to me, via my iPod.
To say that I am intrigued would put it mildly, although I am not YET ready to take the plunge. I love learning about new stuff, and then trying it out. In my excitement this morning I posted on Twitter that I was looking into this whole barefoot thing, and got a lot of quick responses, every one of them positive. I did not expect, however, to inspire someone to take to a bike path in Trieste (in THE Italy!) with her shoes ON HER HANDS and NOTHING on her feet, but, that's just what my friend Karoline did (click on her name to read about how it went for her). It will be interesting to see if either of us is still in shoes when we run the Trieste Marathon together next May.
I also heard from a guy named Joe, in THE New Jersey, who sent me a link to a video showing a runner doing the barefoot thing on the treadmill. What I noticed right off was that he was NOT hitting the ground first with his heels. Interesting. Different. AND, he seemed to be quite light on his bare feet. Joe's experimenting with barefoot running, too. He's warming up to the running with some walks and then walk/runs. I like Joe's style. May try his method this weekend, as I resume my training for Rock and Roll Seattle in three weeks. I won't be running RNR barefooted, I am sure. Don't have time to work up to that. But, I may get a pair of Nike Free's and try those out.
Not sure I'll ever go whole hog on the barefoot thing, even though I don't really care about maybe being an 11 or 12 on some random shoed-runner's nuttiness scale. What I know about barefoot running, at this early stage of my investigations, makes a lot of sense. That frightens me a little.
Would love to hear from any of you've tried to run without shoes, successfully or otherwise. Would also like to hear from anyone who's run in Nike Free's.