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Monday, March 01, 2004

New Barefoot Runner

Subject: [RunningBarefoot] New Barefoot Runner
Date: Mon, 01 Mar 2004 14:28:59 -0800

Howdy Fellow Barefoot Runners (this is an email I sent to Ken a week ago)

I am really happy that I found this group and Ken's website. It has been an invaluable resource for me to get up-to-date information about running barefoot.

I have been going barefoot all my life. As a kid I went everywhere unshod. I am sure that it inclined me to being more comfortable without shoes.

Since I will be turning 40 in July, I wanted to do something special this year. Last year I decided I would do a triathlon for my 40th birthday present. I love to swim, am a champion highwheel bicycle rider, and love to run. The only problem is that running in running shoes (I know now) causes a lot of mid-back stress for me in an area where I have a slight curvature in my spine. Back pain and foot pain wear me out quickly, even though my legs still have a lot of juice left.

I started riding a highwheel bicycle about 4 years ago. I ride nearly everyday. It has turned out to be one of the best motion exercises ever (for me). It allows me to sit upright on a very comfortable leather saddle. Essentially you are walking through the wheel. Your legs are the gears, the brakes, everything. Breathing is very controlled with a relaxed abdomen because you are not hunched over. Very pure, smooth energy transfer, and a great view! There are photos somewhere of me with my medals at Stanford University last spring.

I was so desperate to figure out a way to run without pain, I ordered those expensive Kangoo Jumps bouncing boots (www.kangoojumps.com) from Switzerland. I waited for 6 weeks to receive them, put them on and within a short period of time realized that they would not do. My foot was never more uncomfortable and the boots caused a lot of jostling of my upper trunk which lead to back pain more quickly than even with running shoes! I sent them back and starting giving up on the idea of running long distance.

So, I started walking barefoot. I walked all around the horse trails in my neighborhood. I was totally amazed how enjoyable it was. I would walk with my running shoes to the horse trail. The shoes would cause so much pain, as soon as I took them off, it was like my feet were fish jumping back into water after having been held captive.

Finally, I just left the shoes at home.

Continuing with my research, I searched around to learn more about other barefoot walkers and groups. That's when I stumbled on your site. Boy, am I glad I did. This was just last Saturday.

I spent several hours reading everything, how, where, why, who, etc. and all the others who added their ideas. I really like your approach.

The very next day, I took off from my house without shoes...running! I ran to the horse trail at Hansen Dam (East San Fernando Valley...the last portion of wilderness in the city of LA). I ran and ran and ran. I could not believe it. It was a dream come true. My feet, already strengthened from my hiking and walking and lifetime of barefoot sports, including Kendo, held up beautifully, and my back wasn't sore. I had found the way to run!

That was two days ago. I took off yesterday. My feet were not sore, but my calves were a bit stiff. Today I did a more controlled run for 30 minutes on concrete, asphalt and rough asphalt. My feet are fine. My back is fine. I am happy. I can run again! A big thank you to you and your dedication.

So, I am starting on a new adventure.

Best Regards, Ted

PS. Lastest update. A lifetime of walking barefoot has made the transition to running much easier for me. I have run everyday since I started barefoot running, including two runs over an hour on asphalt. I have never enjoyed running more. Strong soles are definitely useful, but even more important is gentle landings...ball-heel-ball. Makes all the difference.

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