Knowledge in Fitness (by Khai)

*Not written by myself – another thoughtful article by my friend Khai about barefoot running and learning your own body better

Disclaimer: The opinions below are of my own layman thinking and are not representative of any group as a whole. Just my two cents worth. Enjoy. 😀
I often get the weird stares and condescending looks when I participate in a run. Why? Cause I’m not wearing shoes. The conversation that occurs often is this,

Random Individual: Where’s your shoes?
Me: I’m not wearing any.
Random Individual: Won’t your feet get injured?
Me: 🙂

I have started running barefoot 4 years ago when I took up Muay Thai classes. Our instructor insisted that we run barefoot in the paths along Bukit Batok Nature Reserve in order to strengthen our legs and enable us to kick better.

Even then, the response to this was often shock or incredulous looks. At that time however, looking at Master Johnnie and his 50 plus year old lean powerful body, I felt that the barefoot running must have factored into his athletic body. I researched and learnt more about this and found out that there are benefits. So I gave it a shot.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now back to the story of the response I get from people who give me dirty looks on my dirty bare feet. It’s obvious that in their minds I must be some freak or weirdo who is probably uncivilized or not “human” enough to wear shoes. To them, wearing shoes is the rational way and they make it a conscious and purposeful action to run in them. In their mind, they probably believe that the human foot was not designed to travel bare on various outdoor surfaces.

In reality, these people don’t really question as to why they need to wear shoes. Try asking a common runner on why he or she wears shoes when running and they will respond by saying that it’s for support, or protection and such. To them, wearing shoes is part of the “norm” and no one really asks others as to why we are doing something that is “normal”. Thus wearing shoes is how a “normal” human being should be doing and there is no reason to question that action.

Personally in my humble opinion, these are the kind of people who don’t question their habits and try something different. They follow the norm and do not make an effort to think critically or question their daily habits. There are two groups of people here that I’m thinking of. One of the groups are those who see something, and just do it. Like how Nike likes to put it, they “just do it” and do not question or ask as to why this method will work or why it would not.

The other group will be those who do, who are willing to understand a method and try to improve and enhance a method for improving themselves. When you don’t think critically, there’s no choice in your life. The people who don’t think, who don’t question, they only adopt a “monkey see, monkey do” attitude and will never understand why they don’t see growth in their daily lives when others do.

So back to my earlier story, there will be two groups of people who ask me.

There will be those who will approach me and go: “You’re not wearing shoes? That’s dangerous! You could injure yourself without the support!” (This is after I’ve told them that’s it’s my umpteenth time running barefoot)

Then there are those who will approach me and go: “How long have you been running barefoot? I’ve been trying out short distances barefoot but am still unsure. How is it? What kind of improvements have you observed?”

You see the difference?

Here we have two individuals who approach me regarding my barefoot running habit.

Of the first individual, who is the most “rational”, this is the guy who has invested in his super expensive, state of the art comfortable cushioned shoes which is just like everyone else. He or she is probably too afraid to challenge the norm and find out more about something new.

The second individual will approach with a critical observation and is not afraid to challenge his beliefs on running and tests his perception of what is normal and what this new experience might be and whether it may suit him better. He has made a CHOICE and was brave enough to question the normal perception and behaviour of everyday living.

Now the reason why I’m saying this is not to ask everyone to go barefoot running. If you have understood what I’ve written, you’d probably realise that this article is not just about barefoot running per say, it’s about choices in being healthy.

Regardless of what ever methods you choose to stay healthy, be it Strongman, CrossFit, Natural Fitness and others, make sure you understand and critically analyse the methods you’re adopting. As they say, “Knowledge is Power” and with knowledge on your own field of expertise, you’ll be able to improve in your chosen method of staying healthy and strong and improve more. Do not ever go into a sport or a method of fitness just because you see good looking people in there. Learn. Analyse. Find out what suits you best.

So at the end of the day, if you critically analyse what you’re doing and make an effort to learn more, you’ll be exploring your limits and finding methods which will help you best make your body stronger, faster and fitter.

In the end, the person who knows your body best is you. Might as well get to know how to make it better. 🙂

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