Hello Forest Hills Runners! Yesterday I went out for a run with a few very fast, extremely cool, and surprisingly insightful runners. One of them was Scott Jurek, whom some of you know as the 24 Hour American Record Holder (165+ miles in 24 hours... what?). He's also a really solid human being, which is always nice to see. Another was Chris McDougall, the author of Born to Run and a huge proponent of improving running form so that we injure ourselves less. He is a really warm person and honestly seemed more excited about his next book than about the success of Born to Run - he's a regular guy excited about the world and interested in sharing what excites him with others.
Finally, I also met a guy named Lee Saxby, a biomechanics expert and physical therapist. His specialty is the biomechanics of running and he says that barefoot running (real barefoot running - not using Vibram Five-Fingers (especially the Bikila's, which are useless as far as barefoot training is concerned) - is the best way to help you improve your running form (then race in shoes so you can perform at your best)). He also says that the Vivo Ms are pretty good because they have a much thinner sole than Vibrams and also use kevlar so that glass and thorns don't cut your feet, as they do through Vibram's rubber soles (he also works for Vivo, so take that as you will).
Nonetheless, after talking with him for about thirty minutes on a five-mile barefoot run (the five miles took us about 50 minutes because the focus was definitely on connecting with others - a great thing since I'm not much of a barefooter yet and appreciated the easy pace), I started to see that he really knows what he's talking about. He's done his research and he's not just trying to sell shoes. I know he's done his research because I coauthored several chapters of a biomechanics textbook last year and the guy can basically quote the material and also understands how to apply it in practice. He's a physical therapist and he wants people to stop getting injured. He has therefore put together a really great pamphlet describing how to run with ideal form. He has some phenomenal and very simple exercises that will help us improve form and thus reduce injury. I hope some of you will take a look at the attached PDF. As he notes, you can improve your form while wearing trainers, minimalist shoes, or nothing at all. He's not trying to convert you to barefoot running, but suggests that barefoot running at a slow pace is a good way to improve your proprioception. He's trying to convert you to running injury free - something I appreciate very much.
Have a wonderful day and please check out Lee Saxby's excellent pamphlet on improving your running form if you get a chance.
ps. I do take issue with one of Lee Saxby's contentions, which is what it means for the head to be "up." If you watch some of his videos at vivobarefoot.com, you will see some of the runners with their chins up in the air, as if they're Brits who are pretending they're above everyone. Well, they are Brits, but no one should pretend they're better than anyone else... but never mind that. The problem is that when your chin is up, your head is back. This is BAD form and will, if nothing else, lead to decreased speed (and likely injury). The top of your head (the rise just in front of your fontanelle - your soft spot) should be up, which will put your chin down and help you tuck your butt in, further improving your form. Regarding almost everything else, I really like what Lee Saxby has to say. Plus, his exercises are excellent. See the video I'm talking about by clicking on the Lee Saxby link on the right side of this page under "running form."
It should be further noted that the two men have their heads in terrible postion, whereas the women in the video have their heads in very natural, relaxed positions. I have no idea why this is, but think it's important and wanted to point it out.