A day of learning in NYC

Wow–what a cool day I had on Saturday! One of the great things about living in the Mid-Atlantic is that you can hop on a train and be in New York a few short hours later. Saturday morning I was on that train at 7 a.m. to meet up with  Lee Saxby for a one-on coaching session. It was all part of the weekend-long New York City Barefoot Run 2011.

Lee started by having me run with my shoes on while he taped me. He then had me kick them off and run again. What we found? My form is actually fairly

My coach for the day, Lee Saxby

decent both ways. No heel striking, no overextending leading leg. This is the part Lee calls the “software” of running.

Then, well, then I learned that my “hardware,” in this case my feet, leaves much to be desired. My second toe is longer than my first–a pretty common condition called Morton’s toe. Why is that a problem? Well, we have a large big toe and metatarsal for a reason–to help take on a good deal of the load when our feet hit the ground. When your second toe is longer than the first, this probably doesn’t happen. The result–overload on the other, smaller bones of the foot, which in my case led to stress reactions (not to mention my doing too much/too soon).

That was the bad news. The good news, according to Lee, is that with hard work, I can retrain my feet to better utilize that big toe. But–it has to be retrained with walking first. He gave me some drills and exercises to work on, including that ubiquitous squat I want to perfect. He said to expect it to take a minimum of six to eight weeks to make the corrections. So it looks like I have my work cut out for me.

My friend, Dr. Mark Cucuzzella was on hand also as one of the speakers for the weekend. He sat in on my session with Lee and did some videotaping, which we’ll be running later this week on the Natural Running Center site. Be sure to check it out.

Barefoot Ted in the flesh

On the lighter side of the weekend–it was a who’s who of the barefoot running world out there today. Barefoot Ted, Barefoot Ken Bob, Jason Robillard–they were all there. It was fun to put the faces to the feet. My only bummer was not having time to meet Barefoot Josh and Lisa of Early Morning Run, both of whom were further uptown racing the Fifth Avenue Mile. But I can’t complain–I had a great time and learned new, unexpected things.

How was your weekend?

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  1. says

    Very cool. Sounds like you got some great tips. Good luck on perfecting that squat! Agai, another reminder for me that I have GOT to figure out how to get yoga back into my busy schedule.

    My weekend has been decent. Last night’s barf-fest from my 2 year-old was a bit of a bumme. Iin about 15 minutes, however, Sunday will hopefully redeem itself. I’m about to go running OUTSIDE for the first time in 7 weeks. Woo hoo!!
    Allison Johnson recently posted..Running with the ugly stepsisterMy Profile

  2. says

    Glad to hear you are getting some input on what issues to address. That squat is something that old ladies in many countries just do. I mean I saw a bunch of grandmas in Vietnam squatting like that (instead of sitting) for hours while cleaning fish. It seems to me that (yet again) our conveniences like chairs and such cost us flexibility. Oh, here I go again about the natural way to do things. I better move back to my cave. :-)
    Enjoy the rest of your stay in NYC. Yes, I am envious you can visit the City by just hopping on the train.
    Ewa recently posted..Lets talk food, for a changeMy Profile

  3. says

    Interesting about Morton’s toe. My second toe is longer as well and it never occurred to me that this could cause running issues. I always thought it simply meant I was better at picking up dimes and small toys off the floor with my feet than my fellow short toed friends.
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  4. cheryl says

    My second toe is longer and has never caused me any problems with my feet-headed into my 40th straight year of runnning…

  5. says

    WOW. You know, the toe thing totally makes sense, and I just never thought about it. But what is so cool is that you can train your body to adapt to it.

    Sounds like such a fun way to spend the weekend.
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  6. says

    Yay I have feet like MZ!!! My 2nd toe is waaaay longer & I KNOW- it has caused me some foot problems…here’s the funny thing ….until I read your awesome post I never knew it was to blame. Makes sense.
    You. Rock.

  7. says

    6-8 weeks? That is a lot of hard work ….
    Sounds like such a neat day with so many interesting people.
    Glad you had such an informative, fun weekend. :) We had our biggest fundraiser of the year so I just worked non-stop BUT we raised $1 million so it was worth it.

  8. says

    What a weekend! I’d love to be able to just pop over to New York for the day. :)

    Your site looks awesome! A lot of hard work!

    Thanks for all your comments and support. It means a lot!

  9. Chris says

    @cheryl: I’ve got Morton’s Toe and have had Morton’s Neuromas. They are actually two different conditions (structural vs neural) and happened to be named for two different doctors named Norton.

    I’d be curious about what exercises you were asked to do to rebalance your weight onto your first metatarsal. Perhaps you could do a follow-on post after you’ve had some time to try them out.

  10. says

    Can I just say how lucky you are?!! I’m really excited that you are learning how to work past your Morton’s toe thing. I’d love to hear all about how you plan to do that! And I bet it’s good to know that your form is good in as well as out of shoes!

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