I’ve just seen a TEDx Video from Christopher McDougall, a ultra marathon runner. Ultra marathon means running for more than 100 miles. He is the fastest ultra marathon runner in the world. No one managed to beat him instead some of the Tarahumara Indians who live in the canyons of north Mexico. These people have running as a part of their lifestyle. They can fun for hundreds of miles barefoot on the sharp rocks of the mountains, up and down. And all of the modern diseases are completely unknown for their society!
Christopher McDougall started as every other marathon runner and used every possible kind of modern running shoes. At the end the result was always the same – a lot of injuries and health problems. At some point he discovered the barefoot running and since them he had no injuries at all.
Why am I writing this to you? In order to share my own experience with you. When i was a child I was very good in long-distance running. My dream was to become an athlete for long distances. But at the age of 8 I fell down from a high tree directly on my head and have a strong concussion, so my parents preferred that I stop with such big physical exposures. I stopped, but I was still doing a lot of sports. Nevertheless my dream was more or less death. But this changed 3 years ago. In the summer I’ve decided to start to walk a little barefoot because it is so healthy. As a child I used to play a lot barefoot around, especially when I was at the village of my grandparents. And because this village is near the Black sea, we went to the beach every single day in the summer. And there I walked barefoot as well. So barefoot walking was actually nothing new for me. At first it was not so easy to start to walk barefoot again. Even the smallest stones made my feet hurt. But this changed with the time.
I started to walk a lot barefoot and ended even walking only barefoot the whole summer, from the end of May till the beginning of October. I like it a lot. Barefoot walking makes your whole body much stronger and increases your endurance enormously. But there is a problem – the cold weather in the other three seasons. I wanted to start to walk barefoot even in winter, but my feet are always very cold when I’m not moving fast. Two years ago I’ve discovered a great help – the Vibram Five Finger Shoes. These are good for the spring and autumn even if you have cold feet, because you can always put two pairs of good wool socks. There are even some models as KSO Trek (and some other coming soon) which you can use in winter, but only if it is not wet.
There is still not good alternative for wet weather. So I was looking forward to find a solution, so I can walk barefoot or almost barefoot with the Vibram Five Fingers also in cold and wet weather. At the same time I’ve decided to walk 7 to 10 km to and back from my office in order to save some money and spend them. I knew that if I run I’m not going to feel cold. But I was lazy to do 17 to 20 km of running everyday while caring a bag with some stuff and clothes to change and so on. So I skipped this possibility for a long time. Till I met the right person at the right time.
Last summer we were doing one of our moon light hikes in the mountains near Freiburg with some friends and couch surfers. We do such hikes every time when it is full moon and there are no clouds. These are really great and let you experience something completely new – the nature and your own body in the night. And of course to enjoy the sunset and the sunrise, which are definitely the most beautiful times of the day. At this hike one of my friends seen that we are hiking barefoot in the night and told us about the Tarahumara Indians who run for hundreds of miles barefoot. I was pretty interested in this topic, so he sent me the next day some articles about this. Unfortunately (or fortunately as it turned out later) I had no time to read them on the next day. I had a very busy day in the office. At the end of the day my head was full with stupidities and I’ve spontaneously decided to go again for a hike after work. I’ve hiked for several hours before it started to get really dark. I was alone in the woods of the Black Forest Mountain in some place I’ve never been before. And this time it was very very dark, so I had to go back down in some village as soon as possible in order not to get lost and to have to spend the whole night in the mountain. So I decided to run down the hills as fast as I can. I ran for about one hour till I’ve arrived in a small city. I was running barefoot on different grounds feeling very toning.
On the next morning I’ve discovered that I can barely move all my arm muscles! I was running barefoot down the hill for about 10 km, but the muscles of my legs were completely ok. Where does this muscle strain in the arms come from? Very strange, I had no clue. Some hours later I had some time in the office to read the articles about the Tarahumara Indians. There was a very good description of their barefoot running technique on the rocky canyons and mountains in north Mexico. They use their toes and front part of the leg and make small but fast steps and move their arms a lot. Amazing! Without knowing this while running barefoot down the slope, my body discovered automatically the best way of running. That’s why I had this muscle strains in the arms and not in the legs. I was working more with the arms than with the legs. And I had a lot of fun running barefoot such a long distance on the mountainous terrain. I discovered the running again for myself.
Since then I’m running with my Vibram Five Fingers KSO Trek in the winter to and from work for 20 km and have no problems with the cold and wet weather. I’m looking forward to the time when I will walk barefoot even in winter. I not only feeling much better, but I also have again a dream to become a ultra marathon runner 🙂