Friday, August 13, 2010

Experiment #2 - Barefoot Sandals For Guys

Actually, I don't plan to make these. But several of the guys on the Barefoot Runners' Society forum have asked if I could do the same kind of thing for guys. OK, gents, here's my $0.02. It's up to you to make a pair. If you do, please post a link to pictures of your creation in the comments.

1) Buy this pair of $20 sandals from K-Mart.

2) Cut where indicated by the red lines below (both sides). You might choose to seal the edges with some glue and use a permanent marker to fill in the areas where the trim would be. (Or not.)

(Alternatively, you could leave the side straps (along the 'tongue' of the shoe) long and cut them off at the base of the shoe instead of where shown. Then you could glue 2 pieces of flat elastic cord to the straps so that the elastic cord would fit across the bottom of your foot and hold the side straps to your foot. The finished product would look more "shoe-like," but it would take more tools and time and mean that the bottom of your foot wouldn't be completely bare -- there would be 2 parallel elastic straps across the sole of your foot.)

Assuming you're going with the quick and easy method (and, hey, you're guys -- so of course you are!) let's continue...

3) Now loosen the laces all the way and extend the cord out at the toe end. (You'll need a bit more imagination with this image, but hopefully you get the idea.)

4) Attach the back strap around your ankle and loop the cord around your toe. VoilĂ ! Just enough shoe to pass the glance test and keep under the radar of the shoe police. And it's yours for just $20 and about 5 minutes of effort.

Good luck with it! Let me know how it goes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How To Make Barefoot Sandals

This is experiment number 1. I'll let you know how well they wear after this weekend.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Ah-Ha Moment!

Earlier today, thanks to a link posted on the Barefoot Runners Society forum, I read a great article by Steve Magness: The Biomechanics of Running.

When I was done I thought, "I finally get it! It's all about the hip extension!"

All along I've been equating hip extension with pushing off (pushing off = bad). As a result, I've been limiting the range of motion at my hip joint. But hip extension isn't pushing off -- it's pushing back -- and that makes all the difference!

I went out for a trail run at lunch today and focused on hip extension. I let the leg extend back and didn't try to pull the leg in too early (as it seems I've been doing all along). I ended up with a faster, easier run. And I *finally* understand a few other things that Barefoot Ken Bob suggests that just never really clicked for me.

- Let the hips rotate -- Previously, in my attempt to lift the foot I was actually pulling the leg forward too early. There was very minimal hip rotation. With my focus on the hip extension, the hip joint relaxes and rotates naturally.

- Relax, relax, relax -- I could never figure out how I was supposed to relax AND hold myself up AND propel forward. Now I understand that's just another way to say let the stretch reflex do the work (as described in Magness' article). Now it makes sense to me!

As Magness points out, "All runners will respond to a cue slightly differently, that is why it is important to come up with several different ways to say the same thing." Seems that's exactly what I needed.

My hope is that this adjustment to my form will help prevent my recurring TOFP and, as a bonus, will also make me a faster runner.