Barefoot running.... really?!

Mizuno Wave Ascend 8
I blame this "Paleo" or "Primal" thing that everyone has been banging on about since Christmas for the need to buy new running shoes!  No really, it may seem like an amazing bit of "man logic" but bear with me on this one, it does make sense.

Paleo/Primal (or even the Caveman Diet) is being touted by many as the new "wonder" diet that will change your life.  Well it won't.  Not as a fad diet at least.

As a lifestyle choice it most definitely will and, speaking from experience of around 6 months of being "Paleo" it will help you; lose weight, improve definition, feel more energetic, remove the high's and low's that the dreaded sugar rush brings - or at least it did for me which is why after a short hiatus during the first few month's of Donna's pregnancy we have gone back to this way of eating and living.

In my opinion, it's really not something that you can do as a diet for a few weeks as, while it will definitely help you to lose weight initially, its really about re-training yourself so that you're back in tune with your body's natural rhythm.

There's more to it than just eating the right foods and steering away from the wrong ones, exercise, and the right exercise, plays a major part too. Again its about going back to basics, real basics, and going back to the drawing board with the way you exercise - for me all the years doing dedicated weight lifting sessions in the gym targeting specific muscle groups, thankfully, needs to be re-addressed in favour of shorter sessions focussing on burst speed and varying the exercise I do; it's the "fight or flight" existence of our ancestors that  I want to mimic more often and I can't imagine seeing cavemen dumbbell curling for 30-45 minutes!

Swimming, cycling, all-over workouts with kettle bells and running, something I'm terrible at and have avoided like the plague but am finding more and more that I want to do.

And so to Barefoot Running....
There is loads of research both good and bad about barefoot running but essentially it's very simple;  running shoes are designed to help your feet from the harsh impact of your foot hitting the ground - usually around the heel area - and they do a great job of it.  The issue is that this isn't 100% natural - try having a run around the garden with no shoes on, your heels don't hit the ground first if they did you'd stop doing it pretty sharpish as, aside from the pain of the impact, the energy that's transmitted up through your legs and body through your heel is pretty destructive, both to you and to your running and the forward motion you are trying to achieve.
With barefoot or minimal shoes the idea is to reduce the amount of cushioning and the drop between your heel and toes to make you move more towards a forefoot or midfoot strike - much more like the style of running you'd expect with no shoes on.

To start with this can feel really odd and incredibly painful if not phased in properly as your leg muscles are just not used to it so need to be eased into it.  For example if you regularly run 10k runs don't expect to do so in a pare of barefoot shoes, start with 1-2k and build up - slowly - to give your body time to adjust.  It's only fair to point out that I'm very much still in the "adjusting" phase at the moment due mainly to not getting out and running enough!

It does feel amazing though. You feel really light on your feet because your on your toes rather than bashing along heel to toe as you've always done.

Hence the new shoes and the justification (sort of!) for getting them.  They aren't truly minimal or barefoot as there is some drop between heel-toe (around 8mm) but they are a good introduction and step into the barefoot world while providing grip and cushioning if and when it's needed.

You'll find a whole raft of information online about Primal/Paleo, some good places to start are;

Mark's Daily Apple - link

The Primal Blueprint - link

Here's a brief infographic from Mark's Daily Apple - take a few seconds to read through it and think about it
The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Challenge
Learn more at Mark’s Daily Apple.


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