So, I've been running more & more, and I'm afraid to admit that I'm kind-of enjoying myself. What used to be "get out the door, force myself through a mile, walk a bit until I could push myself more, get through those three miles come hell or high water" is really turning into a pretty fun time. Part of it is simply my body getting used to running, methinks.
Things actually started during a run not too long ago. I had finished listening to Born to Run: A hidden tribe, superathletes, and the greatest race the world has never seen, which is just an incredible book, breaking down some of the secrets of the Tarahumara, an indigenous people of Mexico who run these great, great distances. The author (Christopher McDougall) does a great, great job breaking down the stories of individual events into mini-stories, all culminating in a race set up by a gringo living with the Tarahumara which happened to involve some of the greatest ultra-distance runners in the world.
I can go on & on & on about the book, but I'm going to stick with one story -- one of the runners, who comes across as quite annoying, runs near barefoot. See, he really enjoyed running, but had back pain whenever he went a great distance, so he ordered truly expensive running shoes, only to have his back scream in pain after a relatively short run. He took off said shoes and ran home barefoot without any back pain. After some research, he really thinks that running shoes do more damage than good.
I don't know about harm done by running shoes, but I was on one of those chore runs and hit a ton of back pain after the first mile (this could be because I'm a fat man running around an asphalt track who didn't adequately stretch before heading out). Rather than kick it in, I kicked off my shoes with the plan of getting an additional .7 miles (the length of this track). Only, after the first lap, I was feeling pretty good, and proceeded to run for another 8 laps . . . at the end, I was still feeling good. See, this track is .7 miles in length, around a community park -- I had already done a lap in my shoes to see that there weren't any surprises around, so I just continued at a slow pace, running on the grass. Honestly, I felt like a kid.
I haven't gone barefoot since then, but I've been out in my Keens, which offer very little padding - and I've yet to be truly fatigued. Now, I'm not running fast (my mile times range between 9:00 and 10:00), but I'm enjoying myself . . . kick my music up and just go. It's kind of cool.
The 5k is this Sunday -- we'll see if longer distances come forth in the future.