Barefoot running: "Liberate your feet"
So, if you've ever been interested in barefoot running, then let me know because I'm looking to start a barefoot running club. I know it sounds crazy at first, but if you haven't tried it, then I suggest you liberate your feet and give it a chance.
I'm the only one who answered Engwall's ad. But I didn't want to run with him (my tootsies are too delicate for that). I wanted to hear about how he got into barefoot running.
It's building up something of a cult following in some circles. Barefoot runners swear that it's their fancy running shoes, with their arch support and thick cushioning and more, that are the root of jogging injuries. And a movement has sprung up in recent years of people who hit the asphalt, the sidewalk, the grass for long runs -- and leave their high-tech Nikes at home. Some use minimalist footwear. But others just go in the buff (their feet, that is).
It used to hurt when Engwall, 26, ran. He all but gave it up. Then he heard about the skimpy shoes and tried them out. They felt good, but one day he ditched them altogether. Now, he runs three and four miles at a time, pain-free, unless you count the berries and pebbles he occassionally steps on. His fiancee won't run with him if he is barefoot. She worries too much that he'll step on somthing and get hurt.I spoke to several who have recently given up their running gear and gone barefoot. Many of its adherents were inspired to give up their shoes after reading Born to Run, the New York Times bestseller by Christopher McDougall that tells the story of the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico who run long distances with ease. What resonates with the barefoot runners is the chapter about how running injuries became more prevalent with the rise of newfangled running shoes and his well-researched suggestion that we might all be better off without them.
Several doctors I spoke to tell me there is no conclusive evidence either way. "Is it good? It's as good or as bad as running with shoes," said Dr. Benno Nigg, a kinesiologist at the University of Calgary. But, I must say, that is one convincing chapter.It was almost enough to get me out there on the road with nothing on my feet but hot pink polish. Almost.
Baltimore Sun photo
Check out the Sun's website for the upcoming Baltimore marathon.