After suffering from never-ending injuries and drastically altering his running technique without success, Christopher McDougall, author of “Born to Run,” nearly gave up. “Doctors were still telling me I would get hurt no matter what I did. I thought I didn’t have a choice.”
McDougall then heard about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, who can cover up to 200 miles a day (five marathons) barefoot or in sandals.
Humans have always run barefoot or in sandals. The modern running shoe only appeared on the market in 1972.
“When you wear [sneakers] you’re not getting any sensory feedback; you can’t perfect your running technique without feeling. It’s like trying to play the piano wearing mittens — the body can’t respond properly.”
Some now claim running is harmful to our health, but if this were true, then why are there people like the Tarahumara, who run and win marathons in their 50s? The answer is simple, explains McDougall: These people haven’t lost sight of how our bodies naturally function, and in running, this means without a cushioned sole. Wearing sneakers, your head is telling your feet what to do, but barefoot, your feet do all the work. “We keep trying to be ahead of nature, as if technology can outwit that and evolution.”
The motion of running is basically a mini jump. When you run barefoot, you land on your forefoot and bend your knees, causing zero impact. Running in sneakers causes you to land on your heel, resulting in an impact force three times that of your body weight. You may as well be banging on your foot with a hammer.
In McDougall’s opinion, we have created a way of running that is destructive.