A little over a year ago I read an incredibly inspiring book - Born to Run. It convinced to me start running again, without shoes. I know, pretty crazy, but the book made a convincing argument that my knees wouldn't hurt like they did before. And they don't. I've been running just about every other day ever since and have never felt better.
The basic idea is that if you run without shoes you will naturally land on your mid-foot rather than on your heel (as we tend to with cushioned running shoes). Your arch then acts kind of like a spring. Apparently there are tribes in Mexico and Africa (and who knows where else) that run this way and have an extremely low incidence of injuries from running.
The book also suggests that primitive man, before we started making tools, actually ran animals to death! And that our bodies were made for running.
If you decide to try this, do some research. The book suggests that you can run 5 miles tomorrow, barefoot, but you actually have to start off very slow and work your way up to longer distances. I started with 100 yards the first day. 110 the second, and so on. It took me about 6 months to do 3 miles. I now have running shoes that consist of a thin layer of rubber on the bottom to protect my feet from rocks/glass/etc., but no other kind of support.
So I was very excited to hear running is very popular in Eugene, and that my new art friend, Sarah, is a runner too! So we signed up for a 6 mile run this last Sunday. Here we are at the start and taking off.
The first third of the 6 miles was uphill most of the way, on trails. The last third was back down the same hill. I think I made it in half the time. : ) It was a hard run but exhillerating, and I will definitely do more. Sarah and I are already looking at a 4-miler on Thanksgiving day.