I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, in the middle of working through ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer. An article in this month’s Runner’s World on form makes me grateful that I stumbled upon this kind of thinking early in my running practice. I did not realize that Dreyer had not before been contacted by Runner’s World. The article in Runner’s World talks about barefoot running and form work, but held a more critical stance. It is interesting that running is one sport where technique is not universally embraced as the best means to perfecting oneself. Similarly so, I believe in some circles for modern theatre and film acting–my former vocation..
I began running again a few years ago because my partner at the time wanted to do it, and I always want to take time to exercise or work on myself, but I was not in love with running. I began to be proud of myself when I broke my first mile, one time in the rain when we did the entire 4.8 miles of the Joe Michael Mile. But I never loved it. I was a heelstriker, I was always in some sort of minor pain, and I never gained any measure of speed. We would have bouts and spurts of good practice, then drop off. I finally stopped almost completely because I was experiencing so much pain due to my urethral stenosis–a rather annoying condition that is eased through a very uncomfortable trip to the urologist once in awhile, google it if you care to, I want to move on in this discussion… about 2 years later, my condition was under control, I was not exercising regularly and saw a huge ad for the NYC marathon, and said, I should just try that..about the same time I got an offer for magazines, and I thought Runner’s World might whet my appetite. It certainly did. The first issue in November challenged the readers to do something before a New Year’s resolution, so we signed up for the New Year’s Eve Saratoga 5k. I began looking up training schedules online, and found a video of Danny Dreyer. Once I began to apply a bit of his advice, everything moved to a different level. I have changed completely as a runner and everything feels possible. Jeff Galloway’s walk/run also catapulted me forward, allowing me to increase my distances.
Born to Run finally convinced me beyond a doubt that I needed to ‘barefoot’ run. I was always interested, but it became an imperative. the shoes I use now I have had for years, they are some nylon with a rubbery reinforcement on the ball and heel of the shoe, like two little islands. I am very low to the ground and I feel every rock and twig, but it does not hurt. I experience what I longed to when reading McDougal’s book–the intelligence of the feet, their ability to move and change with each step. They are fulfilling their potentials!
Some of my latest runs have been astounding..another renegade run with Ian, like two outlaws we descended on Flushing Meadow-Corona Park only to bump into the Sri Chinmoy 10 Day Race–Born to Run also opened up the reality of ultra running to me, and it was great to actually a witness a woman crossing a 200 mile finish line, she was glowing. Ian and I always admired the guru’s followers, and had run our first race, a 2 miler, with the group. There was a gentle spring wind that day and my breathing and the wind felt inseparable at one point. My feet were gaining confidence in their abilities. Another run in Cunningham Park led us through twisting terrain and alongside crater ponds that were dark blue green. Every run has been beautiful in minimal shoes, in NY in Spring 2011.