I really enjoyed reading “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall a couple of years ago. It has had a profound impact on running and is a book that I recommend to many new runners. It made me and many others in the running community think about our running form or technique and educated us on how we as humans have been built to run.
Unfortunately there are those who have read the book that have taken various points within and have decided that many of us are doing it all wrong.
Barefoot running is the hot topic in blogs, in the media, and at local races. “Do you run barefoot or in the “sock-shoe things”?” is a question that I hear often when people learn that I run. I am used to it and the answer is that I do occasionally run barefoot for drills and some sprints on a football field to help reinforce proper technique. However I personally would never run a race in anything but a running shoe that would vary depending on the terrain and race distance.
Others however seem to want to convince everyone that running with anything other than maybe “Vibram Fivefingers” is bad for you and suggest that everyone else should throw away their running shoes. This type of attitude led me over time to have issue with the book and I found myself giving disclaimers when I recommended it. I didn’t want someone to try to go barefoot for their next half marathon to only end up with an injury before they got to the starting line.
Recently I listened to Ultrarunnerpodcast.com where they interviewed Christopher McDougall last year. I expected to hear him tell me how running in Asics was hurting me. However, he reminded me what the book was actually about and how it has been misinterpreted. The following are some of his quotes that I can’t agree with more:
“I’m still stunned…when I go for a run in Central park and everyone is total shut down, they got their Garmin’s on, iPods and ear buds are in, they are cutting off all communication with their body…”
“This is not about bare feet at all, this is about proper running technique…I find the shortest avenue there is to go barefoot”
“(Born to Run) absolutely does not tout barefoot running….. the only guy who is a barefoot runner is Barefoot Ted and is probably the least reliable person in the entire book.”
“What bothers me most of all….In all the years I was trying to run, no one told me to change my behavior. They only told me to change my buying habits.”
The fact is that while running barefoot is a great way to listen to your body and fix your form, it doesn’t mean that running with shoes is a bad thing. The goal is proper form and if the only way you can achieve that is by running barefoot, then go for it!
As a country we have an obesity epidemic that continues grow for adults and children as a result of our diets and lack of physical activity. Rather than trying to suggest to someone who is running to change their shoes, why not spend time motivating someone who hasn’t run a mile since high school, if ever, to get out and join you. We should all live a lifestyle and speak to others in a manner that motivates one another rather than questioning those who love the same basic thing you do.
I think there are many analogies one can reference if we were to look at the Bible and how it is sometimes misinterpreted. Doylestown Christian Runners is made up of members from various denominations that include Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans and Presbyterians to name a few. The truth is that we have all been saved by grace and we should reach out to help others. I would challenge all of us that we should not focus our efforts in trying to have someone join our particular denomination, but rather to help those who lack a church home and could benefit most from having you extend God’s love in your daily life.
Remembering a Running Legend
In 2010 I had the pleasure of meeting Micah True (aka “Caballo Blanco”) who is the main character in the book “Born to Run” at the Mohican 100 Mile Ultramarathon. I expect that many of you are aware he died several weeks ago while on a run in New Mexico. He was an amazing ambassador for runners and especially for those who love ultra running. The following is a quote he made in 2011 and truly captures his essence from the talk I heard: “If I were to be remembered for anything at all, I would want that to be that I was authentic. No Mas. Run Free!”
You will be missed greatly! Rest in Peace
For more information go to the Micah True Memorial Site