Saturday, February 13, 2010

You never know where an NPR story will lead you . . .

Note: WMRA's Program Director Matt Bingay, our resident Marathon Man, is today's blogger.

Today, I am wearing very funky shoes.

It all started a few weeks ago, when All Things Considered spoke to Dan Lieberman about running.

I ran a marathon back in November and am now working on my next race, so it’s no surprise that I leaned in close to the radio when I heard, “Humans are excellent two-legged walkers. It's one of the things that make us such successful creatures. And there are some scientists who say we're naturally born runners as well, that our bodies evolved to run. Now, anthropologist Dan Lieberman, one of the proponents of the ‘human runner’ school, concludes that we do it better without shoes.” (The Whole story - Study: Humans Were Born To Run Barefoot)


I spent many hours this past year researching and testing running shoes. Now you tell me I would have been better off without them?

Yes, the Marathon was a grueling experience and my ankles, knees, hips, calves and tendons still shudder at the memory of the intense pain of those last 5 miles. But now you tell me that this painful runner’s rite of passage isn’t even supposed to happen?

Last week, the proverbial “second shoe” dropped. I started reading “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. Another discovery facilitated by NPR.

I’m not sure if it is the promise of pain-free long distance running or the novelty of the barefoot experience, but I have decided to give this thing a try.

In a 2-mile barefoot test run on a treadmill, I discovered my gait felt more relaxed and required a bit less effort. This is a promising sign. Unfortunately, I also quickly developed blisters.

And so here I am at the WMRA studios… wearing these new “barefoot running shoes” to get acclimated in anticipation of my barefoot training. I must say. I’m enjoying the many reactions to my unusual foot wear.

“Where did you get those gorilla feet?” “Those look like they would take a while to put on.” “What are you wearing?!"

I don’t know if this will work out for the better or the worse, but I’m willing to give it a try. I guess that’s the hazard of trying to cultivate an open mind and working at an NPR station. And I think it is going to be a while before I stop marveling at my toes wiggling back at me.

- Matt Bingay
Note#2: Don't forget to come celebrate 25-years of Blues Valley with a Blues and Barbecue Bash, tonight 8 p.m. until 1 a.m. at the WMRA studios at 983 Reservoir Street.

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