Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Barefoot running: The statistic you'll want to know

Just listened to two (2) really well done and definitive podcasts that overview the barefoot running craze.

Michael Sandler, author of "Barefoot Running"

Chris McDougall, author of "Born to Run"

These podcasts offer some of the best content on the subject I've heard.  Great summaries about why barefoot running works and makes sense.  But I just couldn't leave it alone from there.  Follow along with me as I unpack my latest thoughts from the trail:

I was thinking about the deliberate, well intentioned footstrike that is mandatory with barefoot running.  Carefully, calculated steps that test the terrain with each impact. Now, I think of my own abilities and the fatigue that sets in during long training runs and races.  As the miles go by my feet are shuffling closer to the ground.

I'm sure most of you can relate to the moment when you slam your toes into a rock or root; the body lurches forward, snapping your back and spine, and you either faceplant or save it.  Whatever the outcome, it's usually a savage blow.

1) Dr. David Hannaford (podiatrist) stated that on average, an ultrarunner takes 90 strides/minute.

2) 90 strides/minute x 6 hour 50K = 32,400 strides

3) 1 errant footstrike in race/32,400 = 3.08641975 × 10-5

4) If barefoot, it's lights out from blinding pain and you're DNF

I'm not planning a tutorial on scientific calculation, but do you get the point?  There is a 99999.91% probability you will take that one, foot-dehabilitating stride during the course of a 50K.  It's your choice to accept those odds, or take the alternative and wrap your foot is some padded, well designed protection. 

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