I ran my first half marathon in 2 hours and 36 minutes. Not fast, but I made it through that finish line amidst the applause and cheers of hundreds of people. What a moment! There truly is no experience like the very first time you cross a finish line, exhausted and happy. I had accomplished something I had never even dreamed of. And then... the knee pain took over. And boy, was I in a lot of pain. I could barely walk to the car, and I sat on the couch for the rest of the day. It took about a week to heal, a week during which I missed running more than I thought was possible.
And I continued to run. Knee pain and all. About a month after my race I picked up Born to Run, a book by Christopher McDougall. I devoured the (true) story of Christopher traveling to Mexico, and meeting the super athletic tribe, the Tarahumara, who run, without shoes, like the wind. I learned, that, indeed, the human animal WAS born to run. We have ancestors who had the amazing ability to outrun their prey. Sure, the animals were faster, but our ancient ancestors lasted a lot longer... without shoes!!!
And it makes sense, doesn't it? Of 206 bones in the human body, 52 alone are in our feet. Yes, we have 26 bones in each foot. We have an amazing set of muscles in our legs, we have an achilles tendon, which makes running possible for us in the first place... and we have a rather impressive gluteus maximus
Humans ran and ran and ran. Until the 1970s either barefoot or wearing thin running flats. Enter Nike... maker of the bigger and better and more cushioned running shoe. Suddenly we were talked into believing, that really, we are NOT meant to run... and if we absolutely had to do it, then please, only in the latest and greatest running shoe, designed by the smartest engineers on the planet. We turned from forefoot runners to heel runners, our stride became longer, our impact harder, our knees more achy. ;)
Of course the barefoot running movement is alive and well nowadays, and I just had to give this a try. I bought a pair of Vibram Five Finger Shoes and ran... pain free
In April I ran the Portland Race for the Roses in 2 hours and 26 minutes. I started in my regular running shoes and switched to the Vibrams at mile 4, because I didn't think I could run a full 13miles in my Vibrams yet. This Sunday I will run yet another half marathon, the Hippie Chick. (Are you thinking crazy runner yet? Running on Mother's Day?) And this time I'll run the whole distance in my Vibrams... And this time I will remain pain free. (Okay, so there is always some pain involved when you're a runner... but isn't that true for any sport?)
So how does paleo/primal living have anything to do with this? Well, to some, absolutely nothing, as a number of "paleo people" do not run, with the exception of quick sprints every now and then. For others, like me, running is very much part of living the paleo life. I learned that I don't need bread and pasta to get ready for a long run. As a matter of fact, a banana about an hour before the race will do the trick for me. Hydration during the race is of course vital. And I will also carry some chewable electrolytes. The night before I will have a balanced meal of meat with more vegetables. After the race I will crave lots of protein for the rest of the day.
Yes, I do very much believe, that we are born to run. We may not all enjoy it, but physically, nothing should ever be able to hold us back.
Hey, I'm adding this blog post to Primal Toad's First Ever Primal Den, a paleo/primal blog carnival. Head on over to our host, Primal Toad, for a wealth of information. :)