It appears the best-selling book about ultra running, Born to Run, is creating a bit of a phenomenon on several fronts. The two crazes catching on most from what I can tell are chia seeds and barefoot running. I too was sucked in by the compelling arguments in the book. First, the chia seeds. The Tarauhmara get their energy from Chia seeds. In addition to the incredible nutritional benefits, experts claim the seeds increase hydration, prolong stamina, and builds/repairs muscle tissues. Site upon site say the same things about chia seed consumption, so I'd say the facts are in and chia is a plus. The mexicans make a "fresca" with water, chia and lime juice, and make a "pinole" which is cornmeal, water, sugar, spices and the seeds. I haven't gotten as far as making the pinole yet, but I HAVE made chia pudding and simply love it. 2 tablespoons chia mixed in a cup of almond milk, with a squirt of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg. Yummy... if you can get past the fact it totally mimics frog eggs. Yup, when you mix the chia with liquid, it forms a frog-egg like gel around the seed. But it still tastes good. Oh, if you mix chia in your granola, the seeds will stick to your teeth and forms a gel with your saliva so you get frog eggs stuck in your teeth. mmmmm... And the energy? I'm not sure yet... the jury is still out and hasn't put it through a real test.
The other phenom from Born to Run is barefoot running. This too will give you tons of returns on a google search. My friend, Kera, has tried it on a treadmill, but I don't think the treadmill was a good test for her so she's waiting until warm weather to test it outside. Born to Run goes into an in depth discussion on human physiology and feet and the fact that many running shoes actually screw up our god-given alignment and form for running, thus the aches and pains (not the running). Athlete upon athlete have come forth and claim they have been healed of aches and pains by running barefoot. If you look at the evolution of the running shoe, you can see its all about "style," not so much your feet. There must be something to it. But alas, it's not really "barefoot." Our feet would be lunch meat in no time. A layer of rubber is on the bottom of your feet, but it's basically flat with no supportive upper. The Mexicans run in sandals which are just what I described above. Five-finger Vibrams are the newest craze to mimic running barefoot. They have a coat of rubber to prevent lunch meat production, with unsupported tops and toe slots to allow toe usage in running (supposedly it helps). I'm gonna try a pair of water shoes I got years ago that are non-supportive, flat, and have a nice sole of rubber. They should work just fine. So Born to Run is spreading some interesting trends. It'll be fun to see if they catch on and become a way of life, especially the barefoot part.