05 January 2010

Born to Run, Part II

Whether you agree with Christopher McDougall's assertion that the modern running shoe is solely (pun intended) born out of corporate greed, increase running related injuries, and will lead inevitably to the downfall of western civilization—I personally believe it will be the world's steadily growing addiction to social networking sites—you should consider the main premise of the book to be worthwhile, i.e. human beings are  physiologically 'hardwired' to run. Not only are humans decent runners, but no other mammal on the planet is equipped with the long-term endurance capacity that we have inherited from our primordial ancestors. Okay, the running shoes will long be debated. I know runners who love their shoes, have run tens of thousands of miles in them, and have gone their entire lives without ever sustaining an injury. Of course, for me, it is very convincing that some of the greatest track coaches in the United States make their athletes practice barefooted at least part of the time. What I am convinced with—wholeheartedly—is that we are all born to run. 

The proof came to me fairly early in life. While I was a 25-year old graduate student at Ithaca College, I would ride my canary yellow Giant ATX 760 up South Hill to the music department. It was a good 2 mile climb. It wasn't Boulder, Colorado, but it was still a nice little ride that accelerated my heart rate and woke me up on many frosty fall and winter mornings. I had a lot of energy to burn. Most of my time was spent in front of a piano either writing or learning music. One time, I walked outside the music department on a unusually warm October afternoon and just had this overwhelming urge to run. I had just finished practicing and was on my way across the quad to grab some lunch when I broke into a little trot. Perhaps I am just an impatient human being, but I just want to get places quickly. When I started teaching at the university, I would run everywhere I need to go. 
I could be sporting khakis and dress shoes with back pack in tow, and I would still run just about everywhere. It always made me feel great to just go! Even now, if I go to the grocery store, I will park a little further away so that I can run. Crazy, right?  These days, I almost invariably wear my New Balance running shoes everywhere I go. I think it is pretty normal to want to run. Wouldn't it be cool if everyone just started running more often—to work,  the grocery store, school, away from five children. Kidding. What is interesting, and telling, is that my kids all run around during the summer like Kenyan runners on Red Bull. Why is that? I think humans do not learn how to run, they learn how to slow down and walk. We tell our children to slow down. Well, I seldom do, unless they are running around the house threatening to break any of the luxury items that we might own, you know piano, okay... piano. 

Timex Triathlon Race Trainer Kit: I will be writing an extensive review of the Time Triathlon Race Trainer Kit. I want to thank the nice people at Timex and Tristan Panasik who sent me the kit—per FTC regulations—to review on my blog. Adam and I are still doing some tests that we will finish up this morning with our 1:30 brick workout (50 minute bike, 30 minute run.) Did I mention we are in day two of Ironman training? Wahoo! 

Get out there!



I think I was lucky. I ran in HS in training for crew, but then didn't run until I was 35. I think that saved my body because of the great advances in shoe technology.

Kelly said...

I can't wait to read this book...heading to get it this week. Barefoot running has been great for me...off for a 4 miler in the Vibrams.

Did you really practice in grad school???

Mark said...

Bob, I hear you. There is one particular athlete who is in his mid 60's and has competed in the age-group nationals (and consequently won his age group.) He did not even start running until he was 50. I recently had one veteran runner (20+ marathons to his credit,) tell me he believes you get a 10 year window for everything to feel good, but the culture of so many people across the globe contradict that theory. My theory is, if it ain't broke, don't fix it, and I am happy to hear those shoes are working for you!

Kelly, I somehow knew I was going to get that comment from you! I need to talk to you more about those Vibrams!

EasternClimber said...

I've had my vibrams for about two years and 100+ miles. I'd give them another 100 before I splurge on another pair.

Go KSO if you buy them.