Friday, July 15, 2011

Barefooting It!

Recently I had grown tired of constantly having shin splints while running.  Upon inquiring about this on facebook I was referenced to the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.  After reading the book I was convinced to try barefoot running and see if this could cure what ails me.  I proceed from that book to Jason Robillard's Barefoot Running Handbook which I found in e-book form through the Runner's World Barefoot forum.  Now I am currently reading Barefoot Running Step by Step by Ken Bob Saxton.  As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have the tendency to go nuts when I find a new thing to be interested in.  After a few weeks of trying out various things and reading and trying to internalize what I have read I finally was able to go out on the track today and run 200 m. without experiencing any shin pain.  My only casualty was a small blister on my left foot, which leaves me with more technique things to work out, namely lifting my foot instead of pushing off.  I always appreciate acquiring new skills.

I have noticed that sill acquisition is a kind of crosstraining for the brain.  It seems to me that the more skills we attempt to acquire the better we are at acquiring skills.  My first real experience in conscious skill acquisition was a long time ago when I first set out to learn to play the saxophone.  As time went on I learned skills such as basketball, billiards, darts - mostly physical skills.  I noticed however that a large uptake to my acquisition speed was when I began to learn languages.  It seems that there is something about developing a process of learning on my own that has enabled me to know how to approach other skills now.  There is a saying that the more languages you learn, the easier it is to learn more languages.  I always thought that this was due to common structures, vocabulary and such; however, I am beginning to think that while those things are helpful, the real key is that you know what your process needs to be.

Being a research minded individual I found as many different methods of language acquisition as possible during my initial 10-month cycle.  By going through in a sort of trial and error fashion I learned what worked well for me and what didn't.  Now, I have developed a method for myself that has enabled me from being at an A2 level in French to a solid B2 if not a lower C1 level in a matter of four months!  Applying that to other areas, when I decided to give barefooting a go, I found a couple of highly recommended books and studied them thoroughly then fused a method out of the books to make it my own and now I am looking down the barrel at actually being a runner like my parents were.  I didn't really know where this blog post was going to go, but I feel like the moral here that I want everyone to take away is this:  Develop your own method!  I believe that there is much we can learn from others, however at the end of the day we have to make our skills our own.  This is what separates us as artists and as human beings - our sense of self.

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