Any runners out there?

I love the fact that here at the Lounge we aren't bound to always discuss watch-related issues.  I was so enthusiastic after a run today that I just had to share blush.  The reason for my pleasure is that a year ago the surgeon told me to either quit running or go under the knife to repair a damaged knee.  Uhhh, no...

Instead I've discovered (re-discovered really) the natural running gait that has become better known over the past few years as "barefoot" or minimalist running.  Turns out, and I have the pain-free knees to prove it, that the heel-first running stride popular since Nike invented the modern running shoe is actually contrary to the way our foot and leg are designed.  Like other running animals, our biomechanics act as a lever and spring when when we land properly.  And properly doesn't mean smashing down on a rigid heel, but rather making first contact with the purpose-designed balls of the feet, then allowing the toes and heel to collapse naturally and the leg to spring forward.

Benefits of this gait, other than to the knees, are less energy required and less stress-related soreness afterwards.  However, there is a long learning curve required to un-learn the heel-strike style of walking and running (yes, you should also walk in this manner) to what I'll call the "forefoot" style.  The best, really only, way to re-learn is by walking barefoot over long distances and all surfaces.  Not as frightening as it sounds and you will be amazed how well your feet accomodate all surfaces (grass to gravel) without pain!  LOL, my wife and I went for an urban hike to break-in her new hiking boots prior to a trip this summer while I went barefoot.  Her feet hurt after a few hours but I was fine wink.  After walking barefoot, the new-found sensitivity can be applied to jogging and gradually running, but expect your calves and achilles to rebel from years of neglect!

Some enthusiasts go on to run and race barefoot but I've donned minimalist-style shoes which do not have the excessive padding required for heel-striking.  In fact, with forefoot running the pronation phase is bypassed along with all those related injuries and the need for motion-control gadgets in your shoes.   As a result, minimalist shoes weigh less than half that of a traditional runner.

I would be thrilled to hear from others engaged in forefoot running or wishing to try it out.  Recommended readings for inspiration are Born to Run by Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Running Step by Step by Roy Wallack and Ken Bob Saxton.
Any runners out there?

avoid the knee surgery
10/03/2011 - 10:39
I could not agree more that you should avoid the knee surgery. I started running in 1982 and after 7 years in track I turned to ultras. In 1992 I suffered from knee pain and three orthopedic doctors told me that I should quit running for ever and have an immediate surgery on my meniscus. On my last desperate attend I visited an osteopath who approached my problem in a totally different way. He said that my meniscus is trying (via a painful way), to move and set in a new place in order to help me with more economical running. This would need approximately two years and the more I would run the faster I would get rid of the pain. Thank God he was 100% correct. Almost two years of patience and I never had any problems on my knees until today. I have run since 10000 kms per year, including one or two big ultras. If I had the surgery I believe it would leave me with problems. One month ago I finished the Trans Gaule (Cross France), race 1151 kms in 18 days and the photo is from the finish line. Reagads Marios 
Awesome Marios
10/03/2011 - 20:26
Have you every tried the Marathon des Sables?  I've heard about it from a climbing friend and it sounds like a meat-grinder!  BTW, if you are looking for the best ultra that Canada has to offer, please check out the Death Race devil
This Canadian race looks very interesting
10/04/2011 - 20:39
This Canadian race looks very interesting. Thank you very much for the information. I always wanted to find a race in Canada and visit my relatives in Toronto. I have not run the Marathondes Sables, for many reasons. The participation is ridiculously expensive, I don’t like the heat, and I think the race is not quite challenging. I mean 200 kms in 7 days is not tough enough to spend one year of preparation and thinking.   Keep happy running
last time I went jogging I blocked my back and ended up seeing a
10/03/2011 - 11:25
Not wanting to be rude
10/03/2011 - 18:55
But you were probably lucky that was the extent of the rejection to the activity.... I don't have you pegged as a runner.? You're going to tell me that you were national champion in your youth now....
I used to be school champion in athletics!!!
10/03/2011 - 18:57
That'll do it!
10/03/2011 - 19:08
But there's been a substantial gap, right!! G
any way I never actually managed to run more than 200m!
10/03/2011 - 19:24
Funny you mention back pain...
10/03/2011 - 20:28
Another benefit from forefoot running is more neutral balance that places no strain on the back.  You must try this Alex!
Never let them stick a knife in you!
10/03/2011 - 12:49
I been running for 40 years and still does. Now I run more often and shorter, which i think is best at any age! I never run a marathon, can't see the benefit of fighting for space with 10.000 other peoples. My neighbour, 10 years older than me, yes it's possible, ran his last marathon about 7 years ago. Why running on hard asphalt or concrete, when you can run on a soft wood path? Not to speak about the surroundings! In the summertime I always go bare footed outside at home! The longest distance, I have run, is about 30 km, and I didn't feel better than after 5 km. Now I run only 3 km several times a week, quite fast. Once I read, I think I mentioned it before, that a famous marathon runner said: "I never enjoyed the running as such, only the feling afterwards!" I'm bent to agree smiley I had during several years returning problems from the right groin for the first km or so, but after that it used to disappear! It was like that every time, just to clench my theeth... I don't know what it was, I always warm up, I never went to any physiotherapist. Now I haven't noticed it for 3 or 4 years! Avoid surgery! Just look at all famous football players (sockers), high jumpers or icehockey players. How many makes succesful come backs after surgery? Of course there are exceptions. I have several friends which works with sports medicine smiley I tried after a very long period to take up golf again, 3 years ago and It was enormous fun, but my back said no. This is the third summer and after I written this, I will phone my Golf Club and say good bye and thanks for me! I already given my golf equipment to my daughter smiley Do as Dean an I do, run for life cool Cheers Doc
Even the surgeon agrees Doc
10/03/2011 - 20:30
The fellow said to try everything else as surgery is a last-choice option.  I appreciated the candor for sure yes.
Very interesting!
10/04/2011 - 03:48
Neat post, Dean.  My wife is definitely a convert to the minimalist running school, and has the ultra-light shoes.  Her knee has stopped hurting her after several years of kicking up after about 2 miles into each run. I'm more of an old school guy, I guess, although I did take the Chi Running course (which I recommend) and now have a much more neutral (forefoot oriented) foot strike. In certain circumstances, surgery can have its benefits, though.  Lorrie and I were training for the 2010 Avenue of the Giants half-marathon (if you've never been to the "Ave," I strongly recommend it!).  As my long run got up into the 9 mile range, I started experiencing severe hip pain.  Almost couldn't walk after a while.  I thought that it was mechanics or needing new orthotics, but as it turns out I had an old hip injury (torn labrum) and an impingement (the ball on the end of my femur had grown a spur, which would pinch the labrum every time I lifted my leg).  I had back problems for 20 years that turned out to be referred pain from the hip! I had outpatient surgery (on the table at 7:30 am, in the car home by 9:15 am) in which they trimmed the labrum and ground the ball back into a sphere.  On crutches for one day as a precaution, and running 8 weeks later.  14 months later, I'm still pain free -- hip and back. Your mileage may vary (pun intended), but as usual the "best" thing to do can be somewhat situational, it seems... Best, Gary
Great info Gary
10/04/2011 - 04:56
Glad to hear that all went well and you are back "on the road".  How long has your wife been doing the minimalist thing and does she have any tips for a newbie like me?
Re: Great info Gary
10/19/2011 - 15:39
Sorry for the delay. Lorrie has been at it for about 2 years, and the only big thing is to be sure to land on the forefoot, or at minimum on a flat foot. She loves it!
I'm with you...
10/04/2011 - 07:05
I do not have any joint issues, but switched to a mid/forefoot strike about two years ago, and the reduction in energy sent to the knees and hips has been dramatic. I used to take a couple of days off between runs, simply because of the jarring that I felt in my joints. I now look forward to running every day or two, and experience virtually no jarrring. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a more natural way to run, and I'm delighted to have made the switch. One word of warning, though: if you consider making a change, make a very, very gradual transition. Start with very short distances, and give your body ample time to adjust to the change. The achilles and calves are particularly vulnerable to strain if you do too much, too soon. Regards, Tony C. 
I hear ya Tony
10/04/2011 - 18:17
Ah Tony, my calves ached so much when I started this new style too fast blush.  Went back to following a gradual increase in mileage and pace, just like the experts said, and have no further discomfort!!
i don thin soles and fore foot too...
10/04/2011 - 10:27

slower wear and tear on the soles too.  yes good advise for those that have not switch this form of running !  

Our secret Aaron...
10/04/2011 - 18:24
We don't want the shoe companies to figure out that runners might buy less pairs once they learn to run naturally wink.  Although I see that Merrell prices their minimalist shoes at or above the trail runners, even though there is far less materials and so-called technology within.  Come to think of it, so many others seem to gain from our pain; doctors, physiotherapists, orthotics makers, running stores, shoe makers, etc. angry  Remember when the African runners burst onto the Olympics scene running barefoot!  It wasn't long before the shoe makers offered obscene amounts, even aid to their home villages, for these abnormal athletes to endorse their products.
I can't run no more
10/04/2011 - 13:09
following my accident - doctor's orders... but thanks Dean for this interesting post - what you are saying makes a lot of sense, it is funny that there are not more people running/ walking 'the normal' way... Cheers, Francois 
Sorry to hear Francois
10/04/2011 - 18:26
At least I hope that some other physical endeavor has replaced running for you...good for the mind and body yes
Dean, you still owe me one morning jog around the Geneva lake ;-)))
10/04/2011 - 18:08
anyway, back to the topic at hand... I have seen the worlwide trend shift to natural running. Even the big names in sportswear manufacturing have recognized and leaned towards this new running concept. My wife even bought a pair of Nike Free runners which are a big step towards the minimalist running as far as Nike goes. I do quite a bit of running myself. Honestly I'm hooked. I should've done the Warsaw half-marathon last Sunday but I went down with tonsillitis Saturday morning... What a strike of bad luck. Also I am usually on a slow side of accepting innovations. I have been absolutely happy with my Lunarglide runners since they came outa couple of years ago. I am now looking at a pair of Lunarglide 3, though I do not like this season's colorful model and am inclined to wait for another combo. Kind of a 'better is an enemy of good' attitude. I will surely visit one of those specialized runners' shops and inquire more on minimalist running. I might even try and fit on a pair, who knows? Dean, you did Boston. Man, you're my hero!  
Re: Dean, you still owe me one morning jog around the Geneva lake ;-)))
10/04/2011 - 18:39
And do you plan to linger awhile at SIHH this year?  BTW, I totally understand your view on so-called innovations, which more often than not are nothing but marketing tricks.  Heck, I'm still skiing the backcountry in leather boots!  If it ain't broke don't fix it....unfortunately my knee was broke crying.  LOL Radek, Boston was a nightmare with a record heat-wave.  Over 1,000 runners were medically treated for dehydration and I passed by many receiving intravenous fluids while laying right on the sidewalk!  But it was pretty neat how people stood in their front yards with hoses and sprinklers for us to run through, plus the Fire Department had the hydrants open.  That city has a great attitude towards this premier event...even the homeless people were wishing us luck heart.  It was also hilarious the next day while walking around downtown to see all the other "tourists" limping just like me...and avoiding stairs wink.
Do you know exact dates for SIHH next January?
10/04/2011 - 18:47
It might interfere with my kids' school winter break, I'm afraid... if so, next timewink anyways, I still have to do the half this year and am thinking of taking on Istanbul early spring next year  
January 16-20 nt
10/05/2011 - 02:46