Natural Running In The Lone Star State

16 03 2010

Texas and its residents have developed quite a brand for themselves.  Regardless of what you think of that brand, Texans by and large are;

  • Individualists    
  • Idealists   
  • and Opportunists   

That just might make Texas prime country for a natural running revolution.  FRP found the latest news on the natural running movement in Texas below.

Barefooting in Texas from the ABC affiliate WFAA-Dallas

Newton Natural Running Symposium-Dallas March 2, 2010

Newton Running Blog Report by Brian Bode blog recap of the Natural Running Symposium

Natural Running Time Machine

1 03 2010

It probably goes without saying that many of us would like to go back in time and modify a few things.  (Please insert anything about high school here.)  As the natural running movement progresses, I was hard pressed to believe that no one had given that much thought to what happens to a runners mechanics when put into a pair of shoes.

That was until I came across an article in the June 2nd, 1987 edition of a little publication called the New York Times.  “Running Shoes Waste Natural Energy of Feet” discusses the currently accepted idea that your feet are more like springs than cushions.  The article advocates to manufacturers to create shoes that are more springy or resilient like the foot in its natural state.  Dr. R. McNeil Alexander, a zoologist a the University of Leeds in Britain (I can almost guarantee you that this guys has a sports coat with leather patches on elbows) goes onto say “In toting up the balance sheet of energy used in running, biomechanics experts have to consider a variety of components. A runner’s forward momentum is preserved, on the whole, although some is continuously lost to air resistance. But most energy goes into landing and taking off again. If none of the energy absorbed on impact were returned, runners would use twice as much oxygen and twice as much energy, researchers have calculated. But muscle tendons – particularly the Achilles tendon in the back of the calf – are known to stretch and contract like rubber bands.”  At the time he was not a supporter of going totally without shoes his did go on to say ”It would seem like us to be a bad idea to do anything to stop the arch flattening,”

Now fast forward twenty plus years.  Our friend Dr. Daniel Liberman at the Harvard Skeletal Biology Lab (another good source for sports coats with leather elbow patches) indicated similar findings of human muscles and ligaments in his study “Biomechanics of Forefoot Strikes and Applications to Running Barefoot or Minimal Footwear”.  Dr. Liberman and his team discuss in great detail running kinetics (the way in which the body moves), running kinematics (the relationship between movements and the forces that cause them) and the energy loading of the lower body, particularly in the arch.

It leads you to believe that the human body is a pretty amazing feat (no pun intended…well sort of) of engineering.  Perhaps it is as important to view your body appropriately, as it is engineered.

You can follow the link to view the full article from the New York Times; “Running Shoes Waste Natural Energy of Feet”

An Epic Natural Running Adventure-Running Barefoot Across The Country

23 02 2010

The top 5 things you need for a life changing adventure.

5) A sweet long beard.

4) Oakley M-Frame Sunglasses circa 1990.

3) Team of friends and supporters

2) A really far out goal

1) A mission that you are passionate about

Think about your longest run.  Now think about your longest runs back to back.  Now take that number, multiply it by one hundred.  In addition to your running, try to run a company and fundraise $100 million dollars along the way.  And to make it more interesting,  no shoes allowed.

Tellman Knudson is running across the country…  Absolutely sans shoe.  He began is 3200 mile journey in New York on September 9th, 2009 and hopes to complete his journey at the Santa Monica Pier on the Pacific coastline in California.  Tellman is an internet entrepreneur from rural New Hampshire.   He was born with considerable physical challenges that would have led few to think he would become and ultra runner of epic proportions.

Now he is running across The United States of America to raise money and awareness for homeless teens.  Like just about everything else he is going big.  His goal is to run evey step barefoot, and along the way raise $100 million dollars.  If being a millionaire super athlete wasn’t enought to make the people you went to high school absolutely crazy, this natural runner has kept the company of Sir Richard Branson and President Bill Clinton.

You can learn more about Tellman and his journey at

The Best Natural Running Asset; Your Amazing Feet

17 02 2010

I had this picture below submitted to me by a very concerned pedicurist.  Rumor has it that before submitting these pictures the woman blacked out and we nearly lost her.

Normal foot

This is not exactly true.  However, we can’t confirm it did not happen.  These pictures have been floating around for quite some time.  They have likely been sitting in the archives until the natural running movement picked up some steam.  They got alot of action when Timothy Ferris, author of the best selling ” Four Hour Work Week” posted them on his very popular blog in April of 2009. He discusses the barefoot alternative and makes a great case for the natural running and walking.

Flow Running Project has done a bit more research and found the original source.  These photos were first published in October of 1905 in the American Journal of Orthopedics in a study titled “Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples”.  A group of doctors studied the feet of native people in Asia and Central Africa.  The study compared the feet of these natural barefoot populations with the feet of 1905  shoe wearering populations.

The study concluded the following: (FRP Comments in italics)

The relative lengths of the foot and its component parts are practically the same in barefooted and shoe-wearing races.

  • This is an indicator that on a genetic level most humans have a very similar basic structure.  Except for Canadians.  I have never seen a bad looking one.  Everyone in BC looks like they walked out of an LL Bean catalog.

Its form, functions and range of voluntary and passive motion are the same in both up to the time of shoe-wearing, after which progressive characteristic deformation (yikes) and inhibition (that’s no good) of function ensue. Here, as in other instances, acquired characteristics are not transmitted. The children of shoe-wearers inherit the same type of foot as do those of barefooted races, and this type is changed only in so far as footwear modifies it.

  • Foot length and shape measurements were taken of traditionally non-shoe wearing indigenous persons in Asia and Africa.  There was no difference in those measurements and in the measurements of cultures that wore shoes, until those culture began wearing shoes.  Another recent phenomenon is “Croc Foot”.   Where the foot becomes soft, spongy and has a marshmallow like consistency.  Tends to affect suburban soccer moms and IT professionals who work from home.

The height and shape of the longitudinal arch have no bearing on the strength or usefulness of the foot. Weakness of the arch is rarely, if ever, accompanied by breaking or lowering, and flat foot as a pathological entity hardly exists.

  • Now this is really, really, really important.  Your arch shape has little relevance to potential ability (Despite what you have been told, you are not broken).  The strength of your feet is what matters.  Far too often people have been conditioned to think that what they are born with is a crutch or dysfunctional. High arch, low arch, no arch.  It matters not.  What does matter is the strength of your feet. However strong, please use a little restraint before showing your girlfriend you can bake bread or put on a tie only using your feet.

You and your feet have amazing potential and don’t let anyone tell you different.  When we compare the two sets of pictures (and the data), there is clearly one that looks to be stronger and self supportive.  There is one set of feet that looks like it is naturally ready for a run.

If you are using a computer you will likely not be chasing jaguars in the jungle barefoot, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have feet strong (or good) enough to carry you anywhere you want to go.  Maybe what we need is a little less shoe and more you.

American Journal of Orthopedics; “Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of barefooted and shoe-wearing peoples”. October 1905 Volume 3, Number 2, Hoffman.

Persistence Hunting-Homage to our running ancestors

13 02 2010

In both the best selling book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and the recently published Harvard Running study, “Biomechanics of Foot Strikes & Applications to Running Barefoot or in Minimal Footwear”, running is identified as an evolutionary tool in the practice of Persistence Hunting.

Persistence hunting is rarely practiced in the world today, but there is considerable research that indicates our ancestors developed into the perfect hunters.  This style of hunting is essentially the use of human endurance to outlast its prey.  Lots of animals are faster, but humans have many features not found anywhere else in the animal kingdom that allow us to move for very long periods of time without succumbing to exhaustion.

As we evolved a few really cool things happend.  Our ability to sweat also allows our bodies to cool quickly, as most animals primarily do so primarily using their mouth.  We developed a bigger trunk that allows for more cooling, and shorter arms that need less energy to move.  Those shorter arms are also great for carrying food and water while on the hunt.  Our legs allow us to take long strides, while our ligaments and tendons use and store energy.  The rigid arches in our feet allow for us to take efficient steps, while the ligaments in our feet act as natural springs.  Its these combination of traits and many others that not only made us natural runners, but into natural hunters.

Below is a video of a Kalahari bushmen taking care of business, and outlasting a kudu.  Natural runner, naturally awesome.  We are wired to do this.  Whether it is to save our life or just make it better.  Running is a pure simple act that needs no enhancement.

“Too Cantankerous To Die”-Tips For A Pretty Sweet Life

8 02 2010

Now to completely blow your health conscious mind.  The video below is of 101 year old marathoner Buster Martin.  I have just found my new sinsei.  The first video is of him dominating a BBC interview.  Make sure to look at how sharp his wit and intellect are.  Often times we think that running has only physical benefits.  It is clear he has still got it all together from a mental standpoint.

This is how I want to do it.  Training, running, drinking a pint and wearing a warm up suit all the time.

The second video is a preview of an upcoming documentary.  When I saw this guy slugging pints and running, I just had to put it up there.

Video #1  BBC Interview

Video #2 Documentary Preview

Running…The Natural Cure For Aging

8 02 2010

I came across this excellent study from Stanford University Medical Center.  And you are never gonna believe this, but running is the natural way to help you live a longer, healthier life.  The study began with 500 runners in their fifties, and followed them for a twenty year period.  These people not only lived longer and “running not only appeared to slow the rate of heart and artery related deaths, but was also associated with fewer early deaths from cancer, neurological disease, infections and other causes.”  Good news for you, bad news for those trying to wait you out and get to your wills!

Read the entire story about running as a natural cure for aging published by the BBC.


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