The other day someone asked me what I’ve learned since I started running about seven years ago and I paused, gathered my thoughts and started to rail off several insights, thoughts and take-aways from my journey. I started years ago at a point where I could barely run 1 mile and turn the clock forward to today as a 42 yr. old runner, I average about 60 miles per week and can still (on occasion) run a sub 18:00 5k. My journey has included practically every injury known to runners, and perhaps to mankind (shod or unshod, I’ve tried almost everything).
With that background, I answered the question with a list of random thoughts . . . came out to a nice round number of 20 (although I have a lot more in my tiny brain) . . .
1. The shod world is full of half truths and half lies and the unshod world is full of half truths and half lies.
2. Barefoot running is extremely valuable even in small does if for nothing else that foot strengthening.
3. The design of the modern shoe is insane. Just stop for 1 minute and think about the design elements in the modern shoe, all of which have no rational relation to the natural functioning of the foot.
4. The idea of focusing on “lifting the foot,” is stupid in my mind. The focus should be on getting the foot on the ground as quickly as possible, and as lightly and softly as possible. This results in a high cadence and shorter stride. The choice is this: lighter impacts but more contacts with the ground or higher impacts but lesser contacts with the ground. You choose.
5. Arms matter and they stabilize your posture. You see runners with arms waiving all over the place. Big mistake.
6. The new wave of minimalist footwear is almost (almost) as stupid as the modern running shoe. Yes, they good intentions for the most part but they are making the same mistake which is failing to logically think about modern running conditions and what the body needs or doesn’t need. For all the new minimalist footwear available, only a few companies get it.
7. Pose and Chi are a complete waste of money and both methods are flawed. Almost I’ll use the word “stupid,” too many times, Pose and Chi are stupid!!! They are nothing more than a ponzi scheme because the reality is you don’t need any class or method to learn how to run.
8. We humans are incredibly lazy, led by my country (the U.S.). We eat too much, never work out, and wonder why our health sucks.
9. The reply “I don’t have time to run” is nothing more than an Excuse!!!
10. Anyone can learn to run well and fast. There’s no question we were born to run.
11. Genetics is way over-rated and like #9, used as an Excuse!!!
12. Technology (GPS watches, HRM, etc.) can be a runners worse enemy.
13. If you truly want to be a talented runner, learn how to “run by feel.” The best runners in the world learned that way because they had no money to buy this type of technology. At the end of the day, there is no technology better than the human body (mind, body and spirit).
14. Check out Barefoot Ken Bob and that’s basically all you need to know about running, whether you run barefoot, in shoes, or a little of both, like me.
15. Running over rocks and difficult while barefoot is stupid unless you like it. There’s no reason to give up all the modern conveniences just to make a point. However, find the most minimalist shoe available that allows you to run where and how you want.
16. There’s no shoe worth more than $80, and this is coming from someone that has purchased thousands of dollars of shoes. Personally, I won’t spend over $60 and I expect the shoe to last at least 1,000 miles but much closer to 2,000 miles.
17. If you do nothing else, lose weight. Weight is a killer, both in life and for running performance. For every 1 lb. imagine running with a 1 lb. weight and so on. While 10 lbs. doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s a TON and I had to find out the hard way.
18. There is no sport on the face of this earth that is easier to do than running . . . just head right out your door and if you don’t need 10 minutes to go through a checklist of useless technology, all you need is clothes and shoes, or just your bare feet.
19. Gordon Pirie was way before his time. For free, you can download and read the best book on running . . . “Running Fast and Injury Free.”
20. As in life, it’s all about sacrifice and priorities.