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  • TED McDONALD: So I just got done having an excellent lunch here, per usual, um, some

  • of my other campus visits.

  • I'm telling you guys have it made when it comes to food.

  • So thank you Google for a terrific lunch.

  • Those of you can see me closely see that I'm sporting a black eye today.

  • I have two Siberian huskies who I'm trying to train to not want to chase squirrels.

  • And it's not easy to do because something runs quickly by you -- I run a lot in Volunteer

  • Park -- and you have two dogs that I often run with a tether on, so I'm not holding them

  • and I'm like running with them.

  • And usually, we're in like this really fluid, moving great together.

  • And I can use voice commands and I can -- I kind of have various ways to keep them

  • doing -- we're all kind of a pack and I'm sort of the alpha, at least that's what I'm

  • hoping.

  • And some squirrels or a squirrel went by in a somewhat narrow path and suddenly I found

  • myself in a branch and stopping.

  • A branch suddenly decided to stop me.

  • So I have a black eye and a hurt shoulder but other than that I think I'm okay.

  • I'm good to go.

  • I actually did this the day before -- I gave a talk last week at the Pacific Lutheran University's

  • -- they had a international symposium on sport and recreation.

  • And I didn't realize I was getting a black eye.

  • I guess it -- it happened the day before and I guess -- well, I guess some of you have

  • had black eyes sometimes.

  • I guess it doesn't just like suddenly you have a black eye.

  • So I was, like, didn't really know I had a black eye, but everybody was looking at me

  • so funny.

  • I thought just like, gee, I guess I must look really funny.

  • I mean, that's probably true, too, but nonetheless that's the story on that.

  • Anyway, I don't know how many of you know me from reading the book 'Born to Run' or

  • having checked out my blog, Barefoot Ted's Adventures, but I'll tell you it's been an

  • incredible experience to have become sort of a person who my own personal journey to

  • find a way to run joyfully to sort of do things that I sort of didn't think I was ever going

  • to be able to do, and then sort of put my mind to it.

  • And start really investigating what it means to be able to run and whether or not this

  • is something I was going to be able to do in my life for longer than an hour without

  • pain led to me where I am talking to you today.

  • And the story goes like this: When I was a younger person, I remember there was a --

  • my family ran the Santa Monica Pier carousel in Santa Monica.

  • I'm kind of from a carousel family, if you can imagine that.

  • But the son of Alan Cranston, who was a famous California senator, was having his 40th birthday

  • party at the carousel, and he was going to run his first marathon.

  • And I thought, my goodness, 40-year old running a marathon.

  • You know, this is his first marathon.

  • I was just so intrigued that somebody that old -- I think I was 20 at the time -- would

  • ever even be able to do that.

  • And I got to know him and I was sort of intrigued.

  • And he really had a successful run, and he was talking about how great it was and kind

  • of sharing with me his experience as a runner.

  • And I -- in the back of my mind, I sort of filed something there that, perhaps when I

  • was going to be turning 40, I think that I might try to make that attempt at a marathon.

  • So anyway, about seven years ago, my 40th birthday was comingwas going to be coming

  • up, and I thought, well, now's the time to give it a try.

  • So I'd done a little running here and there.

  • I ran, you know, some in high school and while I was -- I remember the first thing I did

  • after graduating from UC Berkley, I was studying Japanese and Rhetoric -- the first thing I

  • did after I got out was I started running again.

  • And I thought -- it seemed so enjoyable to suddenly start being able to put energy into

  • something that was so pure and -- but I could never, I really could never get more than

  • a hour where I would be in so much pain, basically.

  • And I tried different shoes, I tried all kinds of different things.

  • And I sort of gave it up for awhile and went to bicycling.

  • It's a very, very common story.

  • And anyway, my 40th birthday was looming about seven years ago, and I decided, well, I'm

  • going to make one more effort to crack this nut of long distance running.

  • There's got to be now some technological solution to this problem, and so I started Googling

  • "lowest impact shoe" and various things.

  • And I came up with a great find.

  • And it's -- it's a company out of Switzerland called Kangoo Jumps – I believe is the name

  • -- or Kangoo Boots and they literally make a boot-like footwear that has a, kind of like

  • a leaf spring built into it.

  • And you put these on and you can literally bounce.

  • I mean you can bounce around the -- and I thought yes.

  • And they had like a, you know, they had sort of testimonials and various people who had

  • tried, you know, people that had various problems with impact and they had gotten these shoes.

  • And I think they had evidence showing that this shoe was the most impact-resisting shoe

  • on the market.

  • And so it was like, right on.

  • And I -- right away e-mailed them and I -- they told me, oh, it's a great timing.

  • We're having this newest version of the shoe coming out that's even got more spring.

  • And I was going to have to like wait like a month.

  • I was just -- whenever you have to wait for something it's just like building up the intensity

  • of how wonderful it's going to be.

  • And I was just imagining myself sort of bouncing through the foothills and just -- I was going

  • to be coming a living embodiment of Tigger.

  • I had like -- I'm built so strong, I've got strong legs and I'm strong.

  • And I thought if with regular running shoes I could do an hour without pain, and for me

  • I was always assuming that marathon runners and long distance runners, those guys it's

  • all about enduring pain.

  • That's what I assumed, based on my experience.

  • So I thought if I could go on hour with the best running shoes, I figured I'm going to

  • be able to do like two hours like right away, like first day.

  • So anyway, long story short my Kangoo Jumps came and I put my Kangoo Jumps on, so damn

  • excited and I was bouncing around the yard.

  • And instead of one hour where I was in my case kind of lower back pain, 15 minutes later,

  • I'm feeling the same problems, the tightness in the legs and the various other things.

  • And I was just like, oh my gosh, you know.

  • It was just like you got to be kidding me.

  • I took the dial, turned to 11, 11 didn't work.

  • And I don't know about you guys but I'm one of these kind of problem solvers that I like

  • to like -- I like to test the extremes.

  • Even on some computer coding stuff I do, I'm like go over let's do this oh,crap that's

  • all screwed up.

  • Go over here, don't do this.

  • Oh, that's kind of screwed up.

  • And somewhere in the middle, I find a solution.

  • So 11 didn't work.

  • I had the best, most impact-resisting shoe in the world, 15 minutes later, ain't going

  • to be going anywhere soon.

  • And thankfully the kind of prototypes I had broke, I got to send them back.

  • They were rather expensive and, well, anyway, I found myself kind of confronted with a dead

  • end.

  • And I didn't right away think about barefooting, but I had been doing a lot of barefooting

  • already.

  • I'd been doing some barefoot hiking, and so I thought maybe I'm just going to be a hiker.

  • Maybe I'll be a barefoot hiker.

  • So I Googled "barefoot hiking," and well of course, there are barefoot hikers in the world.

  • And there are barefoot hikers forums and there are barefoot hiker events.

  • So I'm looking at all this barefoot hiking stuff, and I'm thinking that's cool I've been

  • doing that a lot.

  • And I think it's actually been very beneficial to me to have had that background before I

  • go further in the story.

  • But nonetheless, while I was looking at the barefoot hiking website, there was a little

  • link down at the bottom to barefoot running.

  • And before I clicked that, or about at the same moment that I clicked that link over,

  • and it happened to be a link over to -- the famous barefooter named Barefoot Ken Bob,

  • this bearded, long-haired guy that works over at Cal State Long Beach in Southern California

  • who had had a website sort of on barefoot running for several years.

  • Before I clicked on that, sort of like a flood of memories of various things in my own experience

  • that made me remember that indeed there were or had been perhaps in my mind at the moment

  • biomechanically perfect individuals in this world who had been able to achieve great things

  • barefooting.

  • I'd remembered Zola Budd, if any of you are older than me or about the same age, you probably

  • have remembered or heard about her, an Olympic athlete runner.

  • But I also started remembering my own father's experience as a barefooter in high school

  • and football it was very common to do a lot of training in barefoot.

  • I remember my aunt who had some high school track records, and her bemoaning the fact

  • that somewhere I think it was '64 that the essentially the sporting goods associations

  • in the United States lobbied and made it so that you had start wearing sport shoes in

  • high school sports.

  • Before that, I went and investigated -- this was quite fascinating, entire cross country

  • teams would be barefoot.

  • Barefoot training was not unusual.

  • Matter of fact, barefooting had kind of had a boom even previous to 50 years ago today.

  • Something I'll tell you, some of you who have read 'Born to Run' know already, even previous

  • to that there were people, like there was a fellow from Australia named Herb Elliot,

  • one of the early Australians to be able to get some medals in track and field.

  • And he had this kind of wacko coach named Percy Cerutty who apparently took these guys

  • and had them training like indigenous people of Australia, and had them running barefoot

  • all over the place, and ended up having great efficacy for these guys.

  • And matter of fact Herb Elliot, a barefooter runner, was on the cover of Sports Illustrated

  • twice, once in the late 50s and again in the early 60s.

  • So there was a whole generation of people, my father and my aunt and others, that barefoot

  • running in and on its face was not unusual and furthermore, running in shoes that weren't

  • padded or cushioned in any way was not unusual.

  • And matter of fact, part of the training techniques of being able to learn how to run this way,

  • either by default based on the fact that you didn't have any padding in your shoe or because

  • you had a great coach and you learned how to run well, you learned how to run in a way

  • that wasn't pounding the hell out of you.

  • These people that ran marathons back before the padded shoe, weren't taking on as much

  • impact as you might imagine based on the way most people think they need shoes today.

  • But anyway, all of these things started flooding through my mind including, I had just been

  • to -- my daughter had been in a triathlon, a kids' triathlon thing, and I remember the

  • first place kid running through carrying his shoes.

  • So just a flood of memories.

  • And then, of course, I even remembered in the newspapers the Tarahumara, the Indians

  • from Northern Mexico, would come and race this one race near where I'd grown up called

  • the Angeles Press 100.

  • And they'd come and run in these shoes that were made out of old tires.

  • I mean, I don't know if you've ever put a tire on your foot and started running, you'll

  • find out real quickly there's no cushioning in a tire at all.

  • Great protection, though, if you decide that you want to step on -- start running down

  • a hill at high speed and suddenly find yourself stepping on sharp rocks or wanting to brake

  • to make a turn. In that case, I would say they are awesome.

  • So anyway, I clicked that click and went over to Ken Bob's site and I was like okay, here

  • we go.

  • Let me just see what this guy has to say.

  • And I -- what I did I very methodically read everything he had written, followed through

  • every link that linked from his website, went to his Yahoo forum and read every input that

  • had started from when hewhen he had started this forum.

  • And slowly but surely, I think that I took in from that all of the things, the ideas

  • about what kind of form I would expect, how far I would -- you know, what kind of things

  • I would have to look out for to start this journey of barefoot running.

  • At this point, I hadn't really tried it, so I had no idea what I was going to expect.

  • So I read all that.

  • I think three days later, I'd completed reading everything.

  • I had read every article, every link, and I was like -- sounds like I'm good to go.

  • So I went out and unbelievably -- I'd been like I'd said I'd been running periodically

  • all my life, so I knew kind of what to expect.

  • I knew about running.

  • But when I applied myself in this new kind of style of running which was much more about

  • learning how to land more on the forefoot or more up on the front part of my foot rather

  • than on my heel that involved having a much quicker cadence, a quicker turnover of my

  • feet.

  • And it was like an instantaneous epiphany that this was -- and by the way, I'm running

  • at this point I'm running on asphalt, concrete and then eventually to some horse trails but

  • it was like instantaneously recognizable to me that I had found something very important.

  • I'd discovered something extraordinarily important that was going to change my life.

  • It was 45 minutes later that I finally got home.

  • I purposefully stopped because I figured I better, didn't want to err on over exuberance.

  • But it was like the most important 45 minutes of my life at that point.

  • I had for the first time run barefoot in my life and I wasn't experiencing any pain.

  • I wasn't experiencing any back pain.

  • I wasn't experiencing any pounding.

  • It was so amazing.

  • Literally from that day until now, it was about seven years ago, I have been able to

  • continuously progress on this little journey of mine, and record it and share what I've

  • found and discovered in the process.

  • And it turns out indeed it's not a -- it's not an unusual event.

  • I'm not the only one who's had this epiphany.

  • It turns out at this point in history, in our moment of time, in our new generation

  • who never really even thought or considered barefoot running, at this moment in time primarily

  • because of the book 'Born to Run', it's had a huge influence.

  • And a whole bunch of research that's either coming out or is about to come out in --

  • and probably Dr. Lieberman's stuff from Harvard being the most important, is that you're going

  • to start seeing the beginning it's already started of a paradigm shift, I believe, in

  • the way we look at what it means to be human and what it means to run.

  • And that leads me to what I want to say about that, which is, an amazing thing.

  • It just so happened that as I discovered this for myself, and the first thing I thought

  • was, my goodness.

  • Well, first of all well let's see how far I can take this.

  • I mean am I going to break down here soon?

  • Let's see what I can do.

  • And it turned out that the fellow I was following and learning from was this guy Ken Bob, Barefoot

  • Ken Bob.

  • And he had been, his thing that year was to run a marathon a month barefoot.