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The Naked Runners Blog

Monday
Dec052011

Gear & Running Experience - Follow Up

Jason Robillard from Barefoot Running University recently created a blog post titled: Running: The Gear You Carry Predicts Your Experience.

In it, Jason suggests the existence of a relationship between a runner's level of experience and the amount of gear they run with on race day.

"Watch any race of any distance and you’ll notice a trend.  The people at the front of the pack carry virtually no gear.  The middle of the pack runners are loaded down with gear.  The people at the back of the pack have about as much gear as the front-runners."

When I watch a race I am interested to observe the variations in running form, footwear and facial expressions. Similar to Jason, I also keep an eye on how much gear/'stuff' people have with them.

I'm amazed at what some people are loaded up with to help get them around, including races as short as a 10K. I think Jason's gear:experience bell curve is probably not too far off in a many cases.

If anything it may be closer to a linear relationship - as levels of inexperience go up, so does the amount of gear. As I see a lot of first timers, weighed down with their wares as well as the mid-packers.

At the Gold Coast Half Marathon in July this year, I watched as runners came in to finish from around the 1hr45 mark to 2hrs15. Even across this time, changes in form, footwear and especially gear were clearly evident.

In particular, the amount of runners wearing headphones seemed to rise significantly from the 2 hour finishers on. To me this habit is both puzzling and disappointing.

Part of the buzz of race day is the hype and excitement coming from the crowd and other runners as they cheer and support. It seems unfortunate to exclude yourself from that.

Check out my interview with Professor Dan Lieberman to hear his opinion on running with i-Pods.

 

"The gear promises to make them better."

I would love to conduct a study to determine the relationship between gear and performance. The Naked Runners hypothesis is that running with less gear, (aka running naked) equals not only improved performance, but vastly improved levels of enjoyment as well.

Try it out on your next run or race. Ditch the distractions and leave all the 'stuff' at home. Including (as Jason lists):

"GPS watches, compression sleeves, hydration packs, heart rate monitors, energy gels, fancy springy shoes, reflective diapers, ipods and accessories, various kinds of tape, braces, and straps to keep body parts in place..."

Over time, you will come to rely less and less on all the gadgets which will save you a few dollars and we think will allow you to experience the joy of running as you've never done before!

When was the last time you ran naked? We'd love to hear about it.

Monday
Nov282011

A Night of Nakedness in Newcastle - Wed 7th December

Newcastle based and locally owned independent outdoor store, Adventure195 have kindly agreed to host The Naked Runners for a talk on Barefoot Running.

This will be a free information session on the concept that has been popular worldwide for thousands of years & has recently made a resurgence.

Images by Cody Alexander (left) & Nicole Parsonson (right)Join Dave Robertson (Physiotherapist) and Silas Moss (Exercise Scientist) to discuss/learn the biomechanics & proposed benefits of running barefoot, the transition techniques, and the freaky Fivefingers footwear.

Where: Corner of National Park & King Streets, Newcastle West, NSW.

When: 6:30-7:30pm, Wednesday 7th December, 2011

Refreshments provided.

Call Adventure195 on (02) 4962 5610 to book your seat.

  

Thursday
Nov242011

Two life lessons from lawn bowls 

Lessons in life can be found in the strangest of places. If you are looking to learn about fun and enjoyment, look no further than your local lawn bowls club.

There once was a time in my life when I worked in a bowling club. It truly was a classic place to undertake social observations. There was the time when allegations were made of male players cheating in a tournament by not entering their names correctly on the nomination form. The outcome was just shy of a riot when they were allowed to play on.

Then there was the time one of the lady bowlers had to front up to the committee to put her case forward as to why she should be allowed to continue as a member of the Club. This was serious stuff, she was sweating on the outcome and lucky for her she was voted in by a deciding vote by the chair. The crime? Wearing a g-string whilst playing bowls. Shocking huh?

Amid the serious competition of bowls and the layers of beurocracy was the social bowls on a Friday evening. This is when the place came to life. The whole Club was drunk on smiles and laugher.

On Friday evening the dogma of regular competition was exchanged for a more social version of the game that Sr Francis Drake took a liking to back in the day. It was barefoot bowls. No rules, no shoes, just fun times.

It was during these "barefoot bowls" evenings that people loosened up and the social nature of the human species would flourish.

The ladies rolled away with low cut tops (and the occassional g-string) while many younger folk were attracted to the fun of rolling a few down the green in the hope of resting next to kitty.

A big part of the success was that people were relaxed and by not having shoes, there was a sense of  connectedness to the earth and equality amongst folk. In many ways when we all have no shoes on, we are all equal. Let's face it there is status in having expensive shoes, whether we like it or not, it can define people in others' eyes.

There can be a lot said for doing any activity without shoes and it was obvious that by playing bowls sans shoes, people would have fun.

The two lesson I learnt here were simple and valuable. By (1) reducing the rules and (2) stripping right back to the bare essentials, the scene was set to have fun. And, lets face it there needs to be more fun in life.

Image by NickyFern

Saturday
Nov192011

The TEDxNewy Experience

As mentioned in a previous blog post, we recently had the thrill of presenting at TEDxNewy.

The tag-line for the event,

'Ideas Worth Spreading'

...could not have been more spot-on.

For those fortunate enough to have been in the audience at Newcastle's Playhouse Theatre, (or watching via the Livestream), for the region's inaugural live TEDx event, I'm sure you would agree, the ideas offered by the varied, talented & passionate speakers were definitely worthy of distribution!

The theme of the day was 'Shock Of The New'. I found it interesting however that when talking about the 'new', the audience was often left looking to the past (as far back as Ancient Greece & even the time of early humans).

Perhaps the 'shock of the new' is that as the world continues to advance, it is wise to also focus on the 'old'.

The talk Mossy and I gave urged the world to ditch modern running & take up running 'naked'.

We made reference to Harvard Evolutionary Biologist, Professor Daniel Lieberman who is one of the leading voices arguing that humans have evolved as long-distance runners. His TEDx Talk is well worth a look.

I also really like Grant Blakeman's TEDx Talk about striving to live a more simple, minimalist life. A message that we also promote.

Our talk was linked to a number of the common themes of the day:

 

- a celebration of what is beautiful & good (Bernie Curran's talk on 'kalos kai agathos')

- the importance of community & tribes to optimise wellbeing

- a simpler, stripped-back approach is often better

- observing the world through the eyes of a child

- finding fun & enjoyment in what we do

- respecting & cherishing nature

- taking action locally

 

One particular line from Jason Vangenderen's talk resonated strongly:

"I threw away my camera and became a film-maker".

I thought of how this could be made relevant to our message and came up with:

"I threw away my shoes/gadgets and became a runner".

 

By the end of the day I had discovered a renewed appreciation for the universal instrument of peace - the ukelele, as well a new favourite word: 'serendipity' (or happy accidents).

Again, many thanks to Siobhan Curran and all involved in creating a memorable day. It will be great to re-live it all when the videos are made available.

Looking forward to TEDxNewy 2012 already!

Siobhan caught in a Naked Runners sandwichA thrill to meet Ted from Ukestra at TEDx

Post TEDx drinks at The Clarendon with Mossy & Jason van Genderen

Full list of TEDxNewy videos can be found on the TEDx Youtube Channel here.

Saturday
Nov192011

Barefoot Running Tour of Australia: Adelaide - City of Churches (& heavenly paths!)

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the picturesque & quaint Australian capital city, Adelaide, dubbed 'Australia's most livable city'.

Known for its many churches, and tributes to the 'best athlete who ever lived', (the great Sir Donald Bradman), I was curious to see how it rated as a barefoot running venue.

*Seth Godin followers may recall this quote about 'Sir Don' from page 62 of the book 'Linchpin':

Donald Bradman was an Australian cricket player. He was also the best athlete who ever lived. By any statistical measure, he was comparatively the best at what he did. He was far better at cricket than Michael Jordan was at basketball or Jack Nicklaus was at golf. It’s very difficult to be as good as Donald Bradman. In fact, it’s impossible.

Staying three nights at a centrally located hotel in Hindmarsh Square, when looking for the best place to run I was drawn to and also advised to head to the city's main body of water, The River Torrens.

Immediately I was impressed by the smoothness of the footpaths and inner-city streets. Heading past the University and onwards to the famous old sporting ground, Adelaide Oval we paid homage to 'Sir Don' himself - not sure how much barefoot running he did though...!

We then found ourselves on the river path heading to the weir, passing a number of runners, walkers & cyclists on the way, most generally happy to participate in a positive exchange.

The river path is an ideal location for exercise. We discovered it extends in both directions for tens of kilometres, and for the five to ten kilometres we explored, is very kind to barefeet. The Adelaide CBD is also very flat making it relatively easy going for runners of all levels.

So if you find yourself lucky enough to visit the City of Churches, be sure to enjoy the fantastic options, for both shod & unshod runners, in the middle of the city.

River Torrens Run (7km) (map)

Hanging out with Mossy's favourite animal, the pelicanLocal running groups:

The Adelaide Running Crew

South Australian Road Runners Club

Adelaide Urban Running Tours

Running events in Adelaide:

Resolution Run (January)

Adelaide Marathon (August)

City to Bay (September)

***UPDATE 29th November, 2012***

Torrens parkrun - free, timed 5K (8am every Saturday)

Sunday
Nov132011

Barefoot Running: momentum building

Great to see some more positive media attention given to the barefoot & natural running movement here in Australia.

Max DeLacy from Barefoot Inc was joined by running coach and current Masters world record holder, Keith Bateman for a running 'show and tell' session on this edition of Weekend Today.

When asked by presenter & suspected barefoot/natural running enthusiast Cameron Williams, about the development & popularity of so-called 'comfortable, cushioned shoes' that feel good, Max is quick to reply:

"Taking the lift feels good, but its not necessarily good for you."

This segment is just another example of how barefoot, or natural running is making its way into mainstream media and hopefully into workplaces, households & running clubs around the country.

As interest grows in this more naked approach to running, it is clear that more importance should be placed on the way we run, & less on what we choose to wear (or not wear) on our feet.

It just so happens that wearing less shoe seems to provide better conditions for a more optimal, natural running form to occur.

Resisting the urge to progress this new way of running too quickly is also very important to ensure we don't overload the previously underused structures in our feet & lower legs, risking injury.

Watch out for a great little cameo appearance around 4mins in, from Dr Mark Cucuzzella, founder of The Natural Running Centre and Two Rivers Treads - the world's first running store devoted to natural running. The brief clip shown is part of a beautiful video titled 'Barefoot Running Style':

Friday
Nov112011

Getting naked on the world stage

Followers of our podcast will know that we have been excited about the upcoming talk at TEDxNewy for quite some time. Well the time has arrived and we are about to share our thoughts with the world.

For those that are not aware of TED, it is the biggest platform for public speakers in the world, and it is coming to our part of town. Prominent figures such as Bill Gates, Jamie Oliver and Sir Ken Robinson have all provided compelling performances of their "idea worth spreading" at a TED talk. Legend has it that Al Gore's seminal documentary 'An Inconvenient Truth' gave rise out of his performance at TED.

The Naked Runners have featured in a few articles in the press in the last week, we can sense that the world is primed for the message. Even the cameraman on this photo shoot was wanting to know more. Check out the interview with Robbo in the Newcastle Herald

The great news is that TEDxNewy is not confined to the audience in the theatre, everyone has the opportunity to watch at satelite sites and online.

It's going to be a great opportunity to spread the message to ditch the distractions and start running naked. As you are part of the tribe, a piece of you will be in our hearts when we talk.

To watch all you need to do is go to TEDxNewy feed, we are in the final session between 4:00 and 5:30pm AEDST

Here is a video on what TEDx is all about

Watch live streaming video from tedx2 at livestream.com

Image by Pete Wedgwood

Wednesday
Oct262011

Reasons running naked will help improve your running technique

GUEST POST by Brian Martin

Brian is an Athletics Australian accredited distance running coach and author of the book Running Technique.

Hear, touch, breathe, hold good posture, feel and think.

Firstly let me say thanks to Mossy and Robbo for giving me some airtime at the The Naked Runners website. I share their belief that it's a good idea to try and strip back your running to the bare essentials. The Naked Runners have explained their philosophy really well. I definitely agree from an enjoyment, relaxation and even spiritual level that running naked is a great way to enjoy your running.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded with images, noise and the frenetic pace of existence, what better way to unwind than to ease into a relaxing run around the park, or if you're lucky enough to live close to the bush, then forest runs are a fantastic sanctuary from traffic, noise and pollution.

There's a reasonable amount of evidence that humans have a strong evolutionary connection to distance running, and while we might not hear the call of the wild when we run through the bush, running outside the city limits is more enjoyable. It's surprising how running two hours through the trees is physically and mentally easier than two hours on the road. I suspect that if more would-be marathoners included much of their training off road, they'd find the training process less injurious and more enjoyable than pounding the pavement.


So the naked running philosophy involves getting close to nature and the running experience. I strongly endorse this approach from a coaching perspective. How can you focus on trying to run with proper running form if you deprive your mind and body of vital feedback and sensations from the environment? If you're not a naturally gifted athlete, with an amazing talent for running, then the chances are you'll need to work on running with good technique. This is especially true if you are taking up running for the first time or after a long break. Good running form is vital to avoid injuries, a must for recreational runners, and for those looking to challenge themselves with faster performances or take on longer events like the marathon.

The key senses and systems that you need to tune into to monitor how well you are running are: touch, hearing, breathing, strength, posture and thinking.

Every time I come into contact with a runner who likes running with an iPod I try really hard to talk them into leaving it at home. The sound of your feet striking the ground, breathing rhythms and avoiding being run-over by the car or bike you didn't hear are critical to your running longevity. And how often do you get the chance to not be bombarded by sound in your day-to-day life? Let your brain relax and tune into enjoying your running.

Running shoes are a contentious topic at the moment and many people advocate ditching them all together and going barefoot. While this is possible for some runners, it's definitely not for everyone and you shouldn't be pressured to run barefoot or feel like a failure if you can't do it without getting hurt. You can get many of the sensory benefits of barefoot running by choosing your shoes carefully - this is exactly what I do. You also don't need to run in wafer thin slippers, as there are many great running shoes available that will help you get a better feel for the ground and improve your running technique. The key is to make the transition to running in a bit less shoe gradually.

More about safe transition to minimalist running here

People don't often think about the importance of maintaining good posture and tuning into the strength elements of good running technique. However, these elements can't be ignored, having the inner strength to hold your torso and back upright is fundamental to proper running technique and getting the big running muscles working. This posture also helps open up the chest and makes breathing easier.


Tuning into how strongly you are running is a great way to assess whether you're running too far for your current level of fitness. A concept that is vital to successful running is to keep your cardiovascular fitness in balance with your overall strength and coordination. Of the three elements, fitness is easiest to acquire and sometimes you can push ahead too quickly with running before your body is strong enough to handle it.

Running is also skill that you can learn and improve just like any other physical activity. So when you're running it stands to reason that thinking about what you are doing is a good idea. I've copped some flak from a couple of people for over-thinking my running, and they have a good point, you don't want to labour through a run focusing on the minutia of technique. However, I'd much prefer to think a little about my running than be agonising about some problem in the office, tuning into your running is actually quite meditative. I do monitor my technique, but all that really means is feeling my foot-strike, making sure my big running muscles (the buttocks especially) are working, holding good upright posture and looking out for my breathing being comfortably in control.

For more information about Running Technique visit http://www.runningtechniquetips.com

Naked runners can purchase Brian's book through this website ... enter this KE78G discount voucher for 20% off.