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Monday, August 18, 2014

NOT JUST RUNNING-LIVING


I often write about minimalist/barefoot running issues, minimalist shoe reviews, etc. Running is just something that I like to do. I want to look beyond ONLY the running, and talk about minimalist/barefoot LIVING. When you first transition from "traditional" shoes, you have to do it somewhat slowly, as your feet, primarily, are weak from years of being encased in rubber/leather/canvas, and your ankles, tendons, calves, (and on up the chain) are in need of conditioning to be able to run as you were made to run. Nearly EVERY runner that you see on the road, from those you see at the head of the pack in an event to the weekend casual "jogger", are running along, clomping down on the heel and slapping the toes down with every step. I have kind of made a game of it, in that when I am on the road, whether running or driving and see a runner coming toward me, I look to whether I can see the bottom of their foot as they take a step. Generally, if you can see the bottom of their shoe, they are presenting it as they reach out with their heel. As I started to say, barefoot/minimalist RUNNING strengthens your feet/legs. What about barefoot/minimalist LIVING? Do you have a good barefoot run, then throw on the old sneakers/worn out "running shoes" to prepare to work in the yard? If so, I think you may be missing a great opportunity for conditioning. I spend a lot of time working outside. I mean A LOT! We are fortunate to have a fruit orchard and large seasonal garden, however it takes a lot of physical work to keep it going. Whether I am trimming trees, removing stumps, fixing irrigation pipe or laying in firewood, I'm not wearing shoes. I do some of it barefoot, and much of it in some good old tire tread sandals with paracord laces. These are the ones shown in the photo above, taken before I did some customization on them, and switched to the paracord. Plenty of protection for the bottom of your feet from thorns, etc., but no cushioning, and lots of free foot movement. Such work strengthens your feet, as they move in ways that just don't happen while running. When I have worked outside for the day, my feet have that great "happy tired" feeling after a good hard trail run. I've been bending them, stepping on logs, rocks, pushing over stumps, you name it, for 8 hours or more. You can't buy that kind of foot workout. Now I've been doing this for a long time, and I'm not advocating anything, just providing my perspective and experience. I go so far as to chop and split firewood this way, and to the uninitiated, that could be fraught with danger. I'm just providing the point of view that our primitive ancestors didn't run down a buck, then change into their old Nikes to go gather firewood. This is about getting back to our primal roots, and living more closely to the way they did in order for our bodies to be healthy. If you don't do a lot of your living/working either barefoot or in minimal footwear, you are missing a great conditioning opportunity.

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