DIARY: Return to Madness

I am newly inspired! Having purchased and read Christopher McDougall's hilarious, elucidating and suspense-building "Born to Run", an adventure book by runners for runners, I have come to the conclusion that I am not nearly crazy enough to do well in this business.

I love my Excel sheets and I think the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder I have for analyzing them is no harm to my running, indeed the mental fuel I get from working my brain on the data aids my running. But that's not enough, I've grown comfortable, cautious, settled and, in the most negative sense of the word, modern.

That must all end know, after pouring through the pages of "Born to Run" it's quite clear that if you're willing to truly shed the vestiges of modern comforts, conservative thinking and go "all the way", there will be few normal runners out there able to stop you.

I'll probably devote a number of articles to the "whys?" but let me use this diary entry to tell you some of the "whats", that is, changes I've made:

  1. More and more minimalistic footwear: I'm weening myself off ordinary runners. I'll never buy another pair of ASICS Nimbus or similar standard footwear in my life. Light racers, fell runners and spikes are the order of the day now. Eventually I hope to be able to do most runs in the Vibram FiveFingers. I'll wear out the one's I have, simply for the sake of it, but then traditional runners belong to the past for me.
  2. Barefoot Running: Every time I'm at the track in Irishtown or Kilcoole, I'll do my warmup barefoot on the grass, eventually I'll be able to run all sorts of surfaces barefoot. As a help, I've made a bet with myself that every day I spend in the house I have to take a walk from the door to the porch (about 60m) in a big circle over the gravel stone courtyard even if there's freezing snow. This will harden my feet quickly and then I can move onto bigger challenges. Oh yeah, and the orthotics are out. Today I even took out the insoles of my working shoes. My feet love the ground and don't need a big clunky platform taking it away from them...
  3. Strength: I need crazy strength, I'll buy a squat rack to supplement my bench and I'll get hurdles, hoops and other such equipment so I can turn my courtyard into an agility track for demented runners!
  4. Diet: I have to ween off the Western diet almost fully again. Some things I need to keep simply out of practicality, but others must go forever. I'll try salad for breakfast, I've already bought the weird "super-seeds" described in "Born to Run" (called Chias). I need ot eat much less but much more nutrition-packed. The best runners in the world don't need all the calories. There's 9.5% body fat on my body at the moment and most of it is totally superfluous. The amount of toned muscle I have is scandalous and a healthy diet will help sort this out.
  5. Technique: I need to further step up the work to perfect a natural running technique. Today I tested the super-fast tiny step technique of the Tarahumara Indians (as I think they do it, I need to do a lot more research and a lot more training) on a short run on the hill. It was very weird, my heart rate was higher than normal but my legs didn't get tired at all. What happened is undoubtedly than hundreds of thousands of never-before used motor-neurons sprung into life confusing my brain and forcing my heart to beat faster to support these fledgling untrained and underused muscles.
  6. Balance: I've taken to walking around the house on my tippy-toes whenever I remember it. When I brush my teeth or do dumbbell curls I stand on one leg. I'll keep getting creative and find new ways to practice anything running related while doing everyday activities. They say Kenyans start with an 18000k advantage on us Westerners in terms of mileage by adulthood. Every minute counts!
  7. Anti-inflammatories: Out with the Ibuprofen which wastes muscles and stalls the healing process for all the good it does. I'll go with Scott Jurek's overdosing on Garlic and ginger!
It's not enough for me to become a good runner, and I realise that now, the quest is about something much much more. Its about the unabated freedom to move whereever you want whenever you want with no restrictions. Running must become a child's play, the easiest possible exercise, and something I can do for hours and hours and hours without thought of stopping.

I, too, want to feel like I was Born to Run....