Buenas tardes from Panama!
Today was a MAGICAL day. For the first time in almost 3 months, since being inspired to go minimalist by Chris’s adventures in ‘Born to Run’, I was able to cruise around in my LUNA Leadville Pacers with no calf pain and for a distance similar to what I was running before throwing out my Nike trainers. I am bubbling with excitement. The recurring pain in the sides of my knees is GONE, the pain in the ankle I ruined as a Masters student in Alaska while training for the IronMan in 2009 is GONE, and the pain in my upper left shoulder is GONE! Even the constant nagging fear that running was killing my knees and I would one day be a crippled old man because of it- is GONE! And my running style is completely different. I am now running like I used to ski slalom courses in University: Knees over the toes, body forward, nothing in the back seat. I feel like a kid, smiling constantly!
I will share a great story with you about my run today. I live on the flanks of Baru Volcano in Panama (see attached photo. It is a running paradise :). Returning from a long run about the flanks of the volcano, I passed a group of young indigenous boys who were hassling a chicken, soccer ball in hand. So I pass by, shirtless Branden (a real oddity in the mountains where few have ventured to the beach 50 km south and everyone thinks it is cold up here on the volcano. But I work hard and sweat a lot. So a shirt is never an option). Suddenly I heard this stamped of shuffling giggling kids behind me. And when I glanced over my shoulder I burst out laughing. The three kids had their shirts off and were running with me!
It was not always this fun. I discovered a river of things the hard way- like not to land and push off of the ball of your feet. This leads to awful calf pain and toe blisters galore. The better technique is to imagine landing flat footed. You still land forward but you let the ankle drop and the calf unload. And I swear my calf muscle and Achilles tendon must be an inch longer!
Kind Regards from Panama,