Minimalism, Barefoot Running, and a touch of science.

The Most Informal Running Club Ever – TMIRCE – at City Sports on June 11th had a bit more appeal than usual. We hosted our first ever, and in my opinion, best ever, minimalist clinic. In a nut shell, over the past few years and in response to the popularity of “barefoot running” as described in Chris McDougal’s Born to Run, Informal Runners of TMIRCE had been asking about this phenomenon that we have come to know as the minimalist movement. In response to your questions and inquires, we invited Dan Lieberman, Harvard Professor and Human Evolutionary Biologist to come and share with us his findings and personal thoughts on the movement.

Dan arrived at City Sports almost as quietly as his “barefoot stride” and humbly introduced himself to the group. His kind demeanor and willingness to share was apparent as he was introduced to the group to speak. For nearly 25 minutes, Dan took us on a journey from our ancestral roots to modern day science, highlighting specifically, running form and the birth of the shoe industry. If I can share with you one quote that made an impact, Dr Lieberman said, “Running form is more important than what you put on your feet. But I believe that what you put on your feet effects your running form.” Dan’s argument for barefoot or minimalist running is born from the concept that our feet are evolutionary marvels that we’ve hidden inside our Nike’s, etc. When a person chooses to retrain their body, shorten their stride, strengthen their feet, speed up their cadence, strengthen their calves, they are reducing the torque and stress put on their knees and ankles that can eventually lead to injury.
The room was hanging on his words, laughing at his jokes, and spellbound by his scientifically based argument for minimalist running.
The en”lightning” round really brought the discussion full circle. Several Informal Runners took the 30 second challenge to express their personal insights to running minimalist. Sorry to anyone who got kicked of the podium. We live and die by the gong. (Didn’t get to share your thoughts? Feel free to share in the comment area.)
Mmm…Clif Builder Bars
At the gong, our run began together. Spreading out along the river, we all got to enjoy our run at different paces. I was happy to run a bit with Dan, Larry, and Marcello. I was also surprised to see the number of people running in Vibram 5 Fingers. (Are you one of those people? Feel free to comment below on your thoughts about your experience.) Not to go without mention, I’d also like to thank Mike O’Brien from Vibram Five Fingers for showing up and offering his knowledge, and a couple of sweet t-shirts, to us runners. Also, thanks to Evan for all the Clif Builders Bars we got to enjoy after the run. I heard he threw out his back getting them to the front.