Minimalist running.

You knew I’d get to this post right?  It’s all the craze in the running world right now and being both a scientist and a runner, I had to come to this point eventually.

Before all the hype started, I read a paper, published by a reputable group of scientists on the biomechanics of running barefoot.  I also read Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall, before it became so inspirational and hence encouraging of all these barefoot runners.  Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a fantastic book, a brilliant story and there is definitely something to the idea that less cushioning will allow our feet to actually feel the ground and do what they were made to do.  I’m always a proponent of the more “natural” way of doing things.  However, barefoot running is not something one should just start on a whim.  I occasionally run with a very flat trail/water shoe, when out on the lake for the weekend …on soft trails and it feels great!  I don’t feel that on the sidewalks of my city for my distance runs that it would be a great plan.  I need some cushioning.  Correct shoe fit and the proper shoe choice for your usage are the sole solution here.

Never just assume that because something is published, that it is right.  For many years, people believed the Earth was flat.  For many years, we all believed that we needed extra cushioning and “sox” and all sorts of gels and bubbles and so forth, to help soften our pounding on the pavement.  Now a book and a few radicals push this idea and we’re all on the wagon?  Careful kids, everything in moderation.  Every day in science, things that we previously thought were irrefutable, are proven wrong.  The Nature paper,  ‘Foot strike patterns and collision forces in habitually barefoot versus shod runners” (Lieberman et. al, 2010)  makes a wonderful scientific study of the benefits of barefoot running which goes along nicely with Born To Run.

I like the concept of rebelling against shoe companies who play off our fear of injury by developing shoes that hurt us more than help us, however…and this is a big BUT…isn’t it awfully ironic that in rebelling against shoe companies we are pushing people to buy Vibram Five Fingers and Nike Frees?  In reality, couldn’t this be yet another marketing ploy?

The bottom line is that no matter who you are, you are an individual with individual needs.  Only you can know what your particular foot, joints, legs and/or body will function best with.  Always use your own discretion and choose what works for you-don’t waste needless piles of money on the latest gimmick.  And in my opinion, running with a minimalist shoe, rather than completely Barefoot or with the lovely gimmick of Vibrams, can be much safer for most and much more affordable.  There have been countless articles published about how the best running shoes, can be the least expensive, due to the lower level of cushioning and bells and whistles.  So if you want to try this trend…look in your closet, you may already have some cheaper, minimalist shoes in there.

Either way, keep on running!

Sing a little song.(and an organ donation plug)

Chorus concert tonight for my girl.  She loves to sing, she’s got it in her blood and tonight we have some public witnesses to what is really my life with this child.  She sings ALL the time.  Now, her Dad and grandfather are both musicians and sing non-stop so I should have known.  And since she has a beautiful voice it’s actually quite nice most of the time.  However, it will be nice when she gets past singing about such things as an 8 year old sings about.  :)On another note…I’m currently reading Jon Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven”, a novel about religious extremism, in particular the Mormon Fundamentalists.  If you’ve ever read “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote and liked it, you will enjoy this as well.  I have to say that it’s got a strong historical basis, which being a non-fiction reader by nature, I love.  I’ve learned so much about a religion that I previously knew nothing about.  I have to say, that when they come knocking on my door, spreading the Word, I will be able to say that I truly am not interested now, instead of just brushing them off.  🙂 I’m Catholic, with a bit of a Buddhist tinge to me…ok, more than a bit, but I definitely think that Mormonism (and especially Fundamentalism) is not for me.  But yet again, Krakauer did not disappoint.  His exhaustive research on the subjects he writes about really educate his readers, without boring to tears, as many history based books can do.   I do realize that this is just one viewpoint as I’m a very discerning reader and research even farther than my books take me, so I know that there is another “side” to the story and am exploring that as well.  I do see why people are attracted, or were attracted to this religion, in light of what they were promised.  “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson is a book that I will not soon forget.  I advise everyone to check it out and see the difference that one person with no significant financial means, can make upon this Earth.  His wife should also be commended for enduring the extended absences of Greg Mortenson while he makes all of his wonderful sacrifices, because she’s a guiding force behind his successes as well (as he is the first to admit).   There is mention of him someday receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and it would be well earned.  He’s given so much, to a country that many of us just dismiss.  This book opened my eyes and encouraged me to help try and make a difference and most of all, to increase tolerance of other cultures and religions. And last of all, as many of you know, my husband was  an organ donor eight years ago, before I met him (he donated a lung lobe for his childhood best friend who had cystic fibrosis, in a surgery that nearly cost him his own life).  Hence, we are active in CF fundraising and research and very interested in the possibilities of any cures on the horizon.  In my exploration of the blogosphere, I found Confessions of a CF Husband (cfhusband.blogspot.com) and became very involved in their story.  Nate and Tricia and their adorable daughter Gwyneth have touched the hearts of many people around the world and once you visit this blog, you will be checking it several times daily.  Please swing by and visit and no matter what your faith, say a prayer for these people who have tackled one of the most difficult situations with grace and style and always with immeasurable faith in God.  And I guarantee you’ll enjoy the regular pictures of baby Gwyneth that you get treated to!  And remember, give the gift of life.  Whether it’s while you are living or after death…donate blood, become an organ donor, become active in encouraging others.  It’s the greatest gift you can ever give.  Tricia received “new lungs” late last night and early this morning in an long surgery.  Please pray for her swift and full recovery.