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The 'One Best Way' to Run: Have You Discovered It?

More than 40,000 runners are expected to take part in the New York City Marathon Sunday morning. How many of them will navigate the course using what legendary marathoner Alberto Salazar calls the "one best way" to run?

In a New York Times Magazine article, Christopher McDougall, author of the best-seller Born to Run, describes this one best way as "not the fastest, necessarily, but the best: an injury-proof, evolution-tested way to place one foot on the ground and pick it up before the other comes down."

McDougall famously abandoned a personal running regimen but revived it after studying and embracing the "whisper-soft stride" of the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico's Copper Canyon. In his article for The Times, he, reports that he has gained new insights into cultivating the ideal stride after discovering a 1908 essay that explains a drill called "the 100-Up Exercise."

McDougall's Born to Run is frequently credited for launching the minimalist footwear movement that has been embraced by so many REI members and customers. (In REI's footwear selection, click "Cross-training footwear" and choose a brand such as Vibram to see examples.)

All well and good, yet understanding and practicing good technique is at the core of the revolution, McDougall emphasizes. "The 'one best way' isn't about footwear," he writes in The Times. "It's about form. Learn to run gently, and you can wear anything. Fail to do so, and no shoe—or lack of shoe—will make a difference."

It's a long article but a worthwhile read. If you run in minimalist footwear (lots of people do, including actor Jake Gyllenhaal), what has been your own experience in transitioning from heel-strike running to the ideal stride McDougall describes? What tips would you offer to another runner to simplify and accelerate their transformation? 

And is anyone taking on the NYC Marathon in minimalist footwear? If so, what do you anticipate from the experience?

Posted on at 2:19 PM

Tagged: barefoot running, minimalist, minimalist footwear and natural motion running

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Since the moment I read McDougal's article on Wednesday, I've been waiting for it to go viral amongst the running community. The beauty of the idea is its simplicity: humans are meant to land on the balls of their feet, not on their heels, which is what traditional cushioned shoes have been pushing us towards doing. Land on the balls of your feet, says McDougal, and run injury free.

I expect every running magazine and website will be covering this concept in the next month or sooner. This idea has the potential to change the way people run accross the entire western world--and the way shoe manufacturers design their shoes. "Barefoot" shoes alone are not enough; its how you land in them.

This one could be a game changer.

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