Friday, July 15, 2011

The Experiment

Running does not come naturally to me. It should, considering my parents are both longtime runners, but it's not something I was ever inclined to do. The pool was my arena until injuries and general fed-upness took hold after college. Once I powered through my aversion to running I loved it. Speed is not my goal (good thing because I'm not fast!), but the feeling of covering ground and going somewhere is a huge appeal. 

Once I take something on, I go balls-to-the-walls which is not the best approach for physical activity. In the 10 years since I've started running I've experienced numerous setbacks and injuries: loose patella, iliotibial band syndrome, and most recently sacroiliac joint and piriformis pain. I've sought all kinds of treatments from physical therapy, electrical stimulation, cortisone injections, chiropractic, orthodic insoles, motion control shoes and athletic massage. All have provided temporary (and expensive) relief, but no solution. 

I first heard about barefoot running in Runners World magazine. At the time it seemed an impossible option. My feet are flat, my pelvis is misaligned, I overpronate. This is only for runners with perfectly a put-together musculoskeletal situation, not for me. The idea continued to fascinate me. Were all of the orthodics and guiding cushion shoes that I've believed are necessary just giving me a false sense of security? I remembered tearing across the grass or sand in bare feet as a kid and nothing bad ever happened beyond the occasional stubbed toe. The community of barefoot runners is more of a subculture. Naturally there are varying extremes, ranging from purists who run marathons completely unshod to casual dabblers who wear minimalist shoes with little support. Some are very philosophical/spiritual about their barefoot "journey" while others have either written or memorized orthopedic articles about the benefits of barefoot running. 

I consider myself a voyeur in this community. I find the seasoned experts equal parts intimidating and pretentious. So here I am. Not pretending to know anything more than what I'm experiencing for myself. The likelihood of this experiment leading to spiritual enlightenment or a panacea for my bodily ailments is slim. I would simply like to run pain free for as long as I can. And perhaps develop some awesome looking calves!

Plus, I already bought some shoes and if I don't use them my husband will ban me from forever!

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