The feeling of the hot sand on the a beach on a hot summer day. The mud filling the gaps between our toes when we walk through a puddle on a rainy day in winter. The softness of an alpine meadow in spring. Barefooted we entered this world, and barefooted we shall ultimately leave it. Inbetween – we pass most of our lives with covered feet.
Running – an invitation for injuries
I have always enjoyed walking barefoot. When I had to – I wore sandals, and shoes – only when I had no choice. When I walked the
trail with my son, as his Bar Mitzva gift, I did the whole trail in sandals, and enjoyed every minute of it. The problems started when I took up long distance running. I ran, of course, with shoes. The best that my money could buy. I aimed for a marathon, and ran ever longer distances, till I reached 36 km. Then, suddenly, with no forewarning, I experienced strong pains in my knees, which forced me to stop running for half a year. I started investigating running on a deeper level, and I understood that even though running shoes have supposedly advanced greatly – shock absorbers, midsoles, and so on – more and more runners are getting injured – up to 60 or 70%. My searches led me to ChiRunning, which appealed to me, due to my many years of practicing Tai Chi. This system is composed of many elements, but for me, the main element (as in Poserunning) is the importance of landing the the fore of the foot, somewhere between the midfoot and the front (depending on which method you follow), and not on your heel. The following year I completed my first marathon, and another 2 in the years after, perhaps due to this method. Israel
Running and walking – ancient skills
|Hiking with huarache sandals|
Further on, when I learned Primitive Skills in “Shomrei Hagan”, I realized that this is the way that Earth Cultures all over the world move. Books that have been published in recent years, such as “Born toRun”, describe the amazing abilities of American Indian tribes to run tremendous distances with ease, and to overcome the best modern runners in ultramamrathons of 160 km. On the other hand, research by anthropologists claim that humans developed as the supreme runners in Nature – when we look at long distance running. Ancient tribes would hunt deer and other animals by “persistence hunting”- running after their prey till it collapsed exhausted, after hours of running. Even today, in marathons where humans and horses compete, the humans often win.
The human foot – an engineering marvel
If we stop a moment, to inspect the human foot, we will see that it is a wonder of engineering. Hundreds of bones, ligaments and muscles compose 2 arches which absorb the forces caused by our movement, and allow us to move with ease, and without getting injured. More than 7000 nerve endings allow us to recognize the ground we step on. The principles of correct movement, and they can be learned in a couple of hours of reading or in a short course. As usual, it takes years of practice and awareness to full understand and incorporate into our lives this new method.
What will the barefoot runner wear?
|VFF - Vibram Five Fingers|
One of our biggest problems in correct movement is our footware. Modern shoes, almost without exception have a heel which raises the back of our foot, and prevents us from moving correctly. Walking completely barefoot, on the other hand, is often very uncomfortable. Thorns are often widespread, as are sharp rocks, and other obstacles. Getting the foot able to cope with these can take years of practice. Indeed, sandals have been around for 40,000 years at least. As a reasonable compromise, we find a number of solutions, that protect our feet, and yet allow us to move naturally. We can sow moccasins in an hour or so from animal hide. A vegan option is wearing Huarache sandals. These can be made from a kit, using a Vibram sole, or improvised from a piece of rubber. Vibram have also developed a shoe especially for barefoot running – the Vibram Five Fingers, known as VFFs. A strange looking shoe, with separated toes, it is gaining a lot of popularity. With the increased popularity of barefoot running, other companies have developed “barefoot”, or minimak shoes, and these are now offered by most major running shoe companies, as well as some small independent manufacturers. And, most important, in the end, what matters most is not what shoe we run with, but the simple fact that we get outside, and go running or walking. I have run hundreds of kilometers in my Huaraches, as well as hiking in Ladakh (
) and in India , with great pleasure. Morocco
A recipe – Date- coconut balls
When we go running or hiking we using a lot of energy. When running for an hour or longer, it is recommended that we eat a small snack every half hour or so. We can buy a commercial energy bar, but a quick glance on the wrapping will usually show us a lot of sugar and sweeteners, in various forms. I prefer to prepare something more natural, which can also be a nice offering for guests. Take note that it is quite high in fats, which are usually not recommended, but I find they work well for me.
400 gr dates (preferably soft ones, such as majhoul)
400 gr coconut flakes
½ a lemon, including the zest.
Scrape the outer skin of the lemon.
Cut the dates and the rest of the lemon, and mix all the ingredients together.
It is easiest to mix in a food processor, but it can also be done by hand.
Roll into balls about 2 cm in diameter.
The balls can be covered with coconut flakes or cacao.