My name is Norbert Petras and running is my life. As a professional long distance running coach and an elite runner and regular competitor, to find out that I had been diagnosed with foot conditions such as hammer toes, tailors Bunion, Neuroma and overlapping toes on my right foot and worst of all a Plantar Fibroma (painful hard nodule) on my left foot, I was devastated to hear the doctor telling me that my running days were over. Running has been a big part and a main passion in my life for a long time and to hear that I would have to stop, and possibly have some surgery which may cause even more complications, was very disheartening news to hear.
Luckily I did not accept this answer in any way and organised a Skype session with Dr Ray McClanahan, the inventor of Correct Toes, to ask for his opinion. He reassured me that I would be able to continue running and that all these things were reversible without surgery. He really lit up my life and future for running beyond what I can explain with words and, because all the information he gave made 100% sense, I trusted his opinion. This is when I purchased and started wearing Correct Toes. Some of the changes happened as soon as I put on the Correct Toes and the Neuroma problem disappeared completely after just 2 weeks of wearing them (and I have never had this problem since). The more I wore the Correct Toes, the more I wanted to wear them.
Slowly I replaced all my footwear, including my running shoes, with footwear that I can wear Correct Toes inside without modifications. I now do all my activities in the wide fit Ahinsa shoes (which has a zero drop, very wide toe box, very flexible sole and no toe spring) including running/racing even on the track. I refuse to wear spikes or any other footwear that are not 100 percent Correct Toes appropriate, as I know that this is what caused all the problems in the first place.
With the combination of Injinji toe socks, the Ahinsa shoes and Correct Toes (plus persistence), I managed to eliminate the Neuroma completely and the Plantar Fibroma nodule not only stopped getting harder and bigger or spreading, it completely settled down and dissapeared. My overlapping toes eventually stopped overlapping and the tension I had under that foot also went away (which used to be a burning sensation when walking on softer surfaces).
The bunions have stopped progressing into more critical categories and, in fact, the progression has reversed. All toes have become more mobile and flexible and functioning more like how they used to when I was a child. Most of these corrections have occurred for me within about an 8 month period and others have taken 2 years or more. I have now been wearing the Correct Toes for over 3 years and I'm still finding continual benefits to both my feet and my legs and body from there up.
My feet feel more stable, flexible and stronger than ever before and are still improving. I am now 38 years old and not only continuing with running, but now running faster, longer and better than I have ever run. I want to run for the rest of my life pain free and help others do the same.
This is why I am so passionate about the products I sell - I know from personal experience that they really work when worn correctly. By wearing Correct Toes and listening to the education of Dr Ray McClanahan (see the video section of this website) I believe you can see the same improvements in your foot health as I have.
How did you get into the shoe industry?
It’s a crazy story! My first job was a computer programmer. . . . But I got real burnout syndrome after few years, so there was need to start something new. I was always feeling/wishing to work with people, so I went to study physiotherapy. And there I met one of our professors, Mrs. Clara Lewit. She completely amazed me with her kind, sensitive and simply genial approach. . . . A big part of her “concept” was natural movement and barefoot walking (Clara was writing articles in scientific magazines about barefoot shoes already in 1998!). One seminar, she was showing us her handmade barefoot shoes and I immediately wished this for myself and for my patients. This wish was so strong and so deep that it pulled me to start slowly searching [for] people educated in shoe making, construction and materials.
What makes Ahinsa unique?
As far as I know Ahinsa is still the only one company in the world, making at the same time “barefoot, vegan, ethical” shoes. Also all shoes are handmade and we have completely our own production, what is nowadays quite unique, because many other companies are outsourcing the production in Asia.
Was the process of starting and creating Ahinsa different from what you expected? How so?
To tell openly, I had no expectations. I just had this huge wish to do it. I went step by step and now I am everyday so thankful that it all went so nicely ! I got . . . great support from my parents and my yoga master Paramhans Swami Maheshwarananda. Clara [also] supported us a lot. I will never forget the day, when I told her that I wish to start with making barefoot shoes–she had tears in her eyes. Our success is also based on all great people in our company; we had great luck to find such a team. Only one lady is educated in shoe making, all others came from other professions and learned what was necessary.
What’s your widest toe box shoe? What’s your most natural shoe?
We have models called “barefoot professional” that are, as far as I know, the widest barefoot shoes on the market. The toe box width depends on the shoe size, but there is definitely enough space for toes in aligned position.
Do you have anything new and exciting in the works for later this year or next year?
There are so many new things prepared, our production is constantly in overload, so we are releasing the new models slowly. But main news for this autumn is:
See the full range of Ahinsa Shoes at ahinsashoes.com and contact us at eRunCoach if you want more information about Ahinsa Shoes.
Often I get caught up in a conversation over a coffee with a client, or even at the local park with my children, talking to other inspiring running mums and dads, discussing weather they can call themselves a 'Runner' or not. I always refer back to the definition of what "Running" is. Running is a type of gait characterized by an aerial phase in which all feet are above the ground. It does not matter how far you run, or how often you run, or what your personal best is. If you have felt that flight of the feet, where you are running but you have forgotten, even for the slightest second, where you are and what you are doing, you are running, and you are a Runner!
So far I have stuck to my word of running every day and let me tell you it feels better than ever. The best thing about it is that on the weekends it is not a specific run or even planned. So to give you an example, the last couple of weekends one day involved a lot of driving and socialising and therefore time was very limited. This meant that the only opportunity I had to run was from the car (once I parked it) to the front door. Less than 5 seconds, but it was a run. Other days on the weekends have been running around with my children on the beach or grass and park. During the week the running is much more specific and longer in duration with some days being up to 20km's in total. I will let you all know how the next few weeks go. Hope you are all doing well and making some time to run every day.
My wife Gemma has recently come up with a fantastic idea in order to help her get back into her art (which she has not had much time for since giving birth to both of our beautiful children). The idea or concept is to do one piece of art per day for the next 365 days. I have been waiting for the time in my life where I can commit to running 2 to 3 times per day 7 days a week. This might sound selfish or crazy, but on a personal level this is what it will take to bring out the best in my running. I have excepted the fact that this will not occur until more time becomes available as the children grow and become less dependent. I have accepted this fact and have also excepted that in the meantime my racing performances will not improve further until I have the time/opportunity to do the extra that it takes. However recently this idea of 365 days of doing something you love and are passionate about really struck a point with me and has given me the realisation that I CAN run every day.
I normally run up to 5 times a week currently of more quality sessions and will now run EVERY DAY. This means I do my normal sessions during the week and then on weekends I will count running after my toddler son, or chasing my daughter on the beach, or running to the car and back as " Running". There is no stress to have to do a particular distance or speed or time, just breaking out of walking. And from now on when people ask me how often I run, instead of saying 3 to 5 times per week but....... I should be, could be would be..... I can now honestly say I run EVERY DAY.
I will try to document my runs each week so I invite you to follow me in this journey and also invite you to begin your own journey of 365 days to inspire all of us to live our dreams EVERY
DAY. Please share your story.
Through experience and in reading a variety of literature, I have found that by running more on NATURAL surfaces, such as dirt, grass and trails, you will decrease your chances of overuse injuries or stress fractures and, with time, become a more efficient runner than before. No human being or animal was designed to run on hard surfaces such as road or concrete. However the body can tolerate this in small amounts and can, if done correctly with the right amount of recovery time, make your bones and muscles stronger and thicker and therefore more resistant to injury.
Most of my athletes do nearly all their training on more natural surfaces and have since doubled and even tripled their total running week mileage while reducing and even eliminated continual injuries they previously suffered from. Once again a well-planned program under the guidance of a specialist running coach will incorporate different running surfaces to work to your benefit.
While free general training programs and gadgets such as GPS watches and phone apps can play a positive part in your training and in educating you as a runner, relying too much on any of these means can also work against you. I always say that your body should be, and can be, your best teacher and pacemaker for your running journey. It takes time to get to know your body and how you respond to each training session. There is NO gadget or set training plan or algorithm that can tell you exactly how you should be performing or training on a daily basis.
A training plan should be flexible and allow you to make changes on a daily basis, based on your body's responses as this changes continually. Learn to read the signs of what your body is telling you and with experience and education you can take advantage of this and adjust training plans accordingly to bring out your best.
You will get the most out of running sessions and enjoy them more if you understand what role the session will play in helping you achieve your goals. If you are a focused runner looking at achieving particular time or distance goals, than the program has to be constructed in a way that will build up to achieving those goals. Each session is done to get a desired affect.
Once you know WHAT it is that you are gaining from each run you are more likely to do it in the first place and therefore get more out of the session. A good coach should be able to explain to you exactly what each type of session is helping you achieve and WHY it is essential to you personally. Take the guessing game out of the sessions and know that you are doing what you need to be doing so you can focus on enjoying the session and gaining the benefits
You can improve your running performance by working on your ability to breathe more efficiently. The two main physical factors that affect your running performance are heart rate and breath. The faster you breath the faster your hear beats. Go on try it. Check your pulse while breathing normally and now increase your breathing rate and see what your pulse does. Now slow your breathing right down by breathing deeply in and out through your nose. See the difference?
When you run, the ability for you to stay in control comes down to your breathing. The faster you run, the faster your heart rate becomes and the faster you breathe. By breathing in AND out through your nose as much as possible, you will slow down your breathing rate, which also allows you to utilise more of your lungs and allow you to stay in control and more relaxed. Relaxation is the key to running well. Try smelling as many things as possible while you are running and just focus on the breathing and smelling and see what difference it makes to the enjoyment of the run.
I have been passionate about running for as long as I can remember and my goal as a running coach is to educate as many people as possible about "how to run smarter not harder" so that they can continue to enjoy running for the rest of their lives.
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