On Tuesday, January 13, I was invited to address the members of the 4th Clarkson Cub Scouts on safe, efficient barefoot running. This was an essential component of the youngsters (ages 8 to 11) attaining their health and well-being badge. One of my longtime running associates and friends, Don Bean (aka Kaa), is one of the Cub leaders. Don is one of those people you meet in life who make a positive difference daily. Leading the local Cub sector for over 15 years, he has maintained a heartfelt commitment to helping neighbourhood kids become better citizens. On top of that, he knows the importance of regular physical activity for the overall well-being of today’s youth. Thus, his invitation to me…
You will see from the pictures included in the newsletter Don sent out regarding my presentation that the passion toward getting and keeping his young Cubs active is sincere. I spent time discussing the importance of physical activity on all aspects of the Cubs’ lives and the safest, easiest ways to include it in their daily lives. What impressed the old coach most was their enthusiasm to learn. It didn’t take long for them to lock onto the plank as a basic exercise to improve core strength and balance (see picture). From there, I demonstrated my squat/scoot mid-foot technique of barefoot running (see picture) to show the youngsters how to run safely, quietly and efficiently.
Having them run in their ‘coffins’ (running shoes) before my demonstration with loud, thumping foot strikes made for strong visual and auditory feedback of how NOT to run. They instantly noticed the difference and vocalized why this type of running would lead to injuries. After getting them barefoot and giving them the basics of the squat-scoot, they repeated the quiet, efficient running style in a matter of minutes. I was duly impressed with how quickly they adapted, how quiet they got on their feet and how enthusiastic they were about the whole process. Running barefoot was second nature to them. Without ‘coffins’ to deaden the sensory feedback of the floor through their working muscles, they literally skimmed along pain-free.
Don has since told me that the cub members all received their badges and remember all the key components of my presentation. This gives me faith in our youth that given the opportunity and proper coaching, they can become and stay active, healthy, positive and productive. I’m certain there are many other Don Beans in the world sacrificing valuable time to give back to our youth. I’m also certain there are at least one or two other barefoot running coaches in the world who encourage perfect practice by their young proteges to become injury-free runners. By doing so, we can lay down the foundation for a safe, efficient, active lifestyle now and beyond!!