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Author Tells Runners to Lose Their Shoes

Runners, free your feet—you have nothing to lose but your shoes!

That was the message Chris McDougall gave to nearly 400 fans during a rollicking and wide-ranging talk at Fairfield Ludlowe High School on Thursday evening. McDougall, author of "Born To Run," an account of his time spent relearning how to run with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, spoke as part of a series of writer's talks sponsored by the Fairfield Public Library. The book, which advocates running barefoot as our ancestors did, has spawned a growing movement in the sport known as "minimalism," whose practitioners eschew traditional built-up shoes in favor of minimal foot covering or nothing at all.

"You want to get light, get easy, then get fast," McDougall said about learning to run barefoot, a technique he said prevents injuries by forcing runners to focus of good form and efficiency, something current running shoes have let people ignore. "This is old news," he said. "There's nothing unheard of in this book."

"Don't jump into it all at once," McDougall said in answer to one question. "You wouldn't learn to swim one day and try to cross the English Channel the next."

By making running easy and pain-free, McDougall said it can return the sense of freedom and joy felt by young children who run around a playground with abandon, not worrying about how fast or far. "In the face of a national obesity epidemic, what if running was easy for everyone?" he said. "We could bring good health back to prominence."

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