Monday, April 12, 2010

iRun/iRead and Ep 75 of the Runner's Round Table

Most podcasts are set up as a host (one, two, or an ensemble cast) who covers some topic (news, reviews, etc.) in a familiar format (something akin to a radio show with intros, outros, segments, etc.) One running podcast which breaks that format is the Runner's Round Table. This show is more of a populist creation where someone comes up with a topic and volunteers to moderate a panel discussion held over the internet with each person calling in to a central number. Additionally, the audience can watch/participate live during the recording on a chat channel, or sometimes just calling in themselves.

I bring up RRT as an alternative to other podcasts if you are looking for a new place to branch out in consuming content about running. I especially wanted to mention episode 75 featuring Grant, Vicky, Joe, and Toni talking about the iRun magazine and the accompanying iRead program. I'll let you listen to the show for their discussion of those, the part of the episode I wanted to discuss here is their review of Born to Runand the accompanying question of barefoot running.

I really appreciated how well the panel disagreed on the book, its tone, and the "fad" of barefoot running. While I greatly enjoyed the book, it was great to hear a point of view from someone who didn't like the book. The panel also did a great job of putting into words, my thoughts about the barefoot running phenomenon. To summarize some of their points:

1. The Tarahumara don't actually run barefoot, they have makeshift sandals to protect the bottom of their feet.
2. The effect of barefoot running/minimalist shoe training can be largely duplicated with a conscious effort at better mid/forefoot striking and form.
3. Amateur runners who never received formal coaching (ie: were not runners in high school/college) are frequently coached to "find their own form" and assume that whatever they do is "best for them".
4. Alternatively, amateur runners might well benefit from formal (even if brief) coaching.
5. If you are not having knee/back/other pains and injuries in standard shoes, you may not derive any benefit from barefoot/minimalist running.
6. Maybe you don't need to always run barefoot/minimalist, but doing so as part of core training will help to keep propriceptive and balance muscles in the calf and ankle strong.

Anyway, the panel is not a group of scientists and there is no hard evidence discussed in the show, but I thought it was a great discussion. If you have heard about barefoot/minimalist and are considering it, I would check out this episode as a great review of differing opinions on the subject and see how you think it might work with your training.

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