TMI Is A Good Thing

Fight Club will teach you how to "get tight."
Most of us who started barefoot running within the last few years have done so on a blind path. We've had limited resources available to us and most of our questions were asked in barefoot running forums to other barefoot runners going through similar journeys. Don't get me wrong. Talking to others is not a bad way to learn and learning by trial and error can be a good thing. I happen to believe we learn best through our failures than through our successes. But taking on a new endeavor like barefoot or minimal running can be a little intimidating especially when you're looking to ditch the ultra motion controls in favor of completely naked or zero drop like I did.

And not everyone has access to a professional trainer and coach who not only understands the importance of good running form, but the importance of strength and functional movements in running, sports, and life in general. Yeah. I count myself lucky in so many ways. 

There are many facets to running fit and strong. Many women (and men - I don't mean to be sexist here) would benefit in so many ways if they had easy access to information. I think there's a common misconception that running requires little skill. I have to wonder if maybe that's why women have been drawn to the sport of running. Not because women are completely inept at sports (although come to think of it, have you seen me in the gym? Yeah. That's just me.) but because we weren't given the same support and encouragement with sports as boys. You need little information and help to put on a pair of shoes and run, right? As women we think "I can totally do that!" And we can.

But I find it interesting that when I talk to my husband about training, strength and sports in general he just "knows" things. Like its so second nature that he wonders why I'm asking. 

Like "getting tight." When Seth first showed me how to do squats with the barbell on my shoulders he told me to get tight first. I'm sure I looked at him with a big huge question mark on my face. 

"Um. How do I do that exactly?" I said.

"Lets pretend I'm going to punch you in the stomach." He makes a fist and pretends to punch me in the stomach.

Ok. Here's where the girl in me goes all... "wha??? Punch me in the stomach?? Nobody's ever punched me in the stomach before!!" Fight Club wasn't the game of choice for me as a kid. Think Monopoly.

I guess that's when my ab muscles were supposed to go all superman sixpack and become shields of steel. Um. That didn't happen, nor did I know how to make that happen. Clearly Seth had his work cut out for him.

A week later I noticed a ton of core work added to my programming. (He really didn't punch me in case you were wondering.)

So I guess what I'm getting at here is that women may not have all the information (or the same information) as men do. I can't tell you how many times I've seen my kids (both boys) punch each other in the stomach. I will guarantee by the time they are twelve they will know how to "get tight." Its a boy thing.

The fact still remains that anyone can run. But KNOWING HOW to run can be the difference between running through thick, heavy mud (which I actually kinda like) or slicing through thin air (which is really cool too). Ok. One is clearly less efficient. But where the heck do you start and how do you get there? 

I know I've been accused of TMI. Especially when it pertains to certain clothing-removal-gym-experiences, my mobility and flexibility routine with my "tools," and yes... even my underwear. Sorry about that. There's just a few things I had to get off my chest. Literally. But, here's where Too Much Information is a good thing:

Luckily things are changing in our small barefoot/minimal world. There's more and more information being presented out there about barefoot and minimal running. The forums (like the new and improved Barefoot Runners Society - notice that they've changed their URL slightly to are great for getting personal feedback about injuries, training and products. Not to mention they are great ways to build community and bring people together who would otherwise run alone.

Merrell has also launched a new resource for women. Their Pretty Strong site offers some good stuff for women interested in barefoot and minimal running. I wasn't able to see their iTunes music list (with songs that are all in the 180bpm range - so cool!) because I'm lame but I was able to download their women's Barefoot Training Plan which maps out a 40 day transition program for women wanting to ditch the ultra motion controls. 

The thing that I like about the Barefoot Training Program is that it encourages barefoot (as in bare feet) in the beginning which I think is critical to really getting a feel for natural running form. It also includes some core strength exercises which I'm finding is another critical factor in allowing me to maintain good form while running or walking or basically doing ANYTHING that requires movement.

For someone who wants to begin running barefoot and experiment with better form Merrell's training plan is far from intimidating. It eases you into the process with simple and easy activities and steps. Its like having your own Seth! And for the record, I'm not trying to sell anyone Merrell barefoot shoes by posting up this info. They contacted me about reviewing this site, doing the Womenalism Chats and have sent me a pair of their new Dash Gloves which I probably should do a review of one of these days, but I maintain my own opinions about companies and their products and will tell you if they suck. I've made a habit of being honest, sometimes too honest. Its a flaw. So far, Merrell shoes haven't sucked. At least not for me. So that's that.

Classes and clinics are all over the country (literally - in the case of Jason Robillard) being led by some widely known barefoot running enthusiasts such as Barefoot Ted, Ken Bob Saxton, and Lee Saxby. I'm sure there are a ton more. Google is a great thing.

Even Seth and I were discussing possibly putting together some videos to demonstrate some of the most fundamental core exercises that he recommends. I have to work on my skills though and actually look like I know what I'm doing. But having the information available for people to see online would be good. I'll probably do a follow-up post on that at some point.

And in case you're wondering... I will NOT be demonstrating how to jump rope.

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  1. Replies
    1. Hey now,

      I've got to think that any videos you do have to be better than some of those machine videos you posted about a while ago. What was that chair that spun around while you worked on your PC. Ha-that made me laugh.

      BTW, I just noticed I look like the guy on the left in the picture. Isn't he the one that got his butt kicked?

    2. Hey Ken,
      I don't remember if he got his butt kicked. Didn't they all? Yeah. I won't be demonstrating stupid fitness gadgets. At least not anytime soon. Ha!


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