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barefoot running

18-Year-Old Rae Heim Runs Barefoot Across America

Written on August 10, 2012 at 1:13 pm , by

Heim poses for a fun photo in between running streaks. (Photo courtesy of Bill Wright)

Written by Lisa Turner, editorial intern

Rae Heim is one tough cookie. Just a couple months after graduating from high school, the 18-year-old decided to run across the country – barefoot – to raise money for charity. The organization, Soles4Souls, provides shoes to kids who can’t afford their own. Heim hopes to raise $5,000, which would equal 5,000 pairs of shoes for kids all over the world. Why did Heim choose to go barefoot? “So someone else wouldn’t have to,” she says.

We spoke with Rae while she was in Carroll, Iowa, about halfway through her journey.

How did you get into running?

I had never been a runner, but I wanted to help my mom at this seven-mile race  in Davenport to sell her running line. They design and manufacture the women’s running line Run Girl Run, which I love.  The day before, we decided we were going to run it for fun. Once I crossed the finished line, it was the best feeling. It was like I accomplished something that was bigger than anything I’ve done before.

Is the running across the country taking a toll on your body?

Not really. The biggest challenge was after the first week, when I was running with a backpack because it was just so awkward and heavy. I felt it in my knees and lower back. Now I run with a Bob Ironman stroller.

How do you fuel up?

Usually I’ll eat a light breakfast, like Puffins cereal, and then on my run I’ll get an apple or a banana at a gas station. I work with a sports nutritionist and she keeps things simple. When I feel like my sugar might be dropping, I pop some Skittles or Starburst until I can get better carbs in my system. Then, after running anywhere from 20 to 25 miles, I’ll have a big dinner with my host family. That’s been my favorite part about running – just meeting new people.

Read more

Should You Start Barefoot Running?

Written on October 11, 2011 at 7:00 am , by

Would you ever ditch your sneaks for a run? (Photo courtesy of Ericka McConnell)

Has the sight of celebs traipsing around town in Vibram FiveFingers made you anxious to start barefoot running? Responding to the minimalist shoe craze, the American Council on Exercise decided to test out those barefoot running shoes to see how they fared for normal everyday runners. The council tested Vibram’s Bilkia model on 16 recreational joggers and compared their performance running in these shoes, regular neutral shoes, and running barefoot. So, should you dip your toes into the barefoot running trend?

The pros
When correctly done, running in a minimalist shoe can decrease the risk of injury. During their tests, half of the participants switched running styles when they went barefoot or wore Vibrams. They landed more lightly and on the balls of their feet (forefront style), instead of on their heels (rear-strike style) like they did when wearing the neutral shoes. This decreased their risk of injury by upping plantar flexion, or downward flexing of the front of the foot toward the sole. All Vibram wearers, regardless of running style, also lowered knee flexion — another way to reduce risk of injury.

The cons
As much as minimal or barefoot running can help decrease injury, it can be hard to jump right into. Although the runners tested had two weeks to run in their Vibrams before test day to get comfortable with them, half still maintained their rear-strike running style while running barefoot or in the Vibrams, leading to higher loading rates when they ran (which can mean more stress on the body overall). And the runners also pronated more in their Vibrams, which can also lead to a higher risk of overuse injuries.

Read on for more about barefoot running.

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