January 21, 2013
My day at Two Rivers Treads in Shepherdstown, West Virginia
After over a year of false starts and cancelled plans, this past Saturday the stars finally lined up correctly and off I motored to this store, the very first in the U.S. devoted entirely to natural running and its adepts and wanna-be's.
Long story short: What a fantastic, fascinating introduction to a world I'd only heard about peripherally.
Pictured up top, my two homies Paul and Paul in front of the store, in a picture I took with my iPhone 5 around 1 in the afternoon as I was winding up my visit (I'd arrived at 10 a.m., the scheduled time for the weekly Saturday morning natural running clinic).
What I did there:
1. First off, I listened to Paul Koczera (green hoodie) explain to me and three other attendees the basic concept of natural running. Very interesting.
2. Followed along with Paul as he demonstrated why the human body can't be stable if it's not barefoot. Putting anything on your feet — even socks — diminishes proprioception and removes long-evolved feedback tools enabling balance and natural orientation. Once you add a heel and eliminate what's now termed "zero-drop," it's game over for having a spine and back that function the way they evolved to perform.
3. Performed a series of barefoot cadence drills with Paul setting the pace using a metronome, demonstrating why stride frequency is crucial to proper foot placement and impact aspect.
4. Ran on the store's treadmill both in my then-current race shoes (Nike Mayflys) and barefoot, while Paul filmed me from the side using an iPad video program (Ubersense). He then sat down with me and superimposed the videos to demonstrate the difference in a whole number of things — most strikingly head movement (large amount of vertical movement in shoes vs. far less barefoot) and vertical axis (about 20° off vertical in shoes to compensate for foot striking ahead of body vs. straight up-and-down barefoot, with foot strike directly under my trunk). A revelation.
I couldn't wait to buy a pair of zero-drop shoes (I chose these by Inov-8):
to replace my Mayflys, which up to Saturday I'd thought were the last word in lightweight minimalist running.
I had no clue.
Can't wait to get out there on the road to race and try out my new toys.
I highly recommend this store to anyone with curiosity about minimalist/natural running.
Tell either of the two Pauls I sent you and they'll prolly burst out laughing but hey — I'm kewl wit dat, happens all the time.
January 21, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink
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Thanks again for making the trip Joe! We really enjoyed getting to hang out and talk with you. May you have many days of injury free running.
Thank you as well for turning us on to the site and ebook. Love them both.
Paul (the slightly less good looking one)
Posted by: Paul Staudigel | Jan 22, 2013 12:26:24 AM
Shepherdstown is a good earth place, as close to Oregon as anything I've found on the east coast. However, I haven't been to Maine.
Posted by: Marianne Kandel | Jan 21, 2013 9:57:51 PM
My favorite barefoot running shoes are the Vibram Five Fingers. On top of the benefits you mentioned in your post, like proprioception, and balance, the five fingers allow your foot muscles to build up in a more natural way, due to your toes being separated. If I wear anything else now, even if it's supposed to feel like bare feet, it feels like I've strapped my feet to 2x4's.
Posted by: BubbleGirl | Jan 21, 2013 5:07:24 PM
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