Thursday, June 24, 2010

S'gotta be the shoes! M'eh . . .

I'm not really sure that it is to be honest. 

Back in October when I saw Christopher McDougal interviewed on the Daily Show, the contrarian inside me (the devil that unfortunately guides much of my decision making) took over and I was compelled to get myself a pair of Vibrams.  The burgeoning research was what made me think that  there might be something to this barefoot running phenomena and I wondered if this just might be a  more entertaining way for me to run.

Now, I'm not so bull headed as to believe that this is the only way, or that there aren't inherent issues associated with it; I think there are based on my own personal experience.  For me, running minimal has really opened up the experience for me and has me running with more joy than I have ever had in the past (which wasn't a whole hell of a lot).  But I've also come to discover that running this way isn't particularly new either.

Most high level distance runners run with what is known as a fore-foot or mid-foot strike, (as opposed to bashing your foot into the ground heal first) and this is the benefit of something like running without shoes on.  You can't help but run correctly; the way your body was designed to.  It also reduces the impact, allowing you do go further and do less damage to your body.  But either way, you can learn to do this without going barefoot, it's just less intuitive unless you log a few miles and break yourself off a few times.

As for myself, I've decided to go with a combination of shoes during this process to just kind of find out what works for me.

What doesn't work for me is exactly what the shoe store recommended.  The most stabilizing of all of the Saucony models available.  They cost me 125 smackers and felt like a pair of low-quarters reinforced with concrete.  Absolutely awful.  After I had been running in the Vibrams for a month or so I could barely make it two miles for my Army Physical Fitness Test.  I should have just run the damn thing in the Fivefingers but was a little worried about regulation Nazi's busting my chops.  The Saucony's were recommended based on my "severe overpronation" despite my never having had a running injury in the past.  At the end of the day they just hurt, so I binned them.  I actually gave them to a worthy cause and now there is a very well stabilized member of the less fortunate.  Just hope he doesn't run much.

So I just kept running in the Vibrams but knew I needed to augment those with something that would allow me to fly under the radar during times of Army-ness.  And so I got a pair of these:

I also had the additional idea that I could pound the pavement a little harder even if my feet were a little sore from the day to day pounding they take without "shoes".  I mean let's face it, I needed to come to terms with the fact that I hadn't actually used my feet or legs, pretty much ever, and really wanted to make a smoother transition this time rather than over-zealously snapping my metatarsal again.

Essentially they are a track flat, without much to it.  Exactly awesome.  These give me a chance to cut loose a little and not freak out about my form as much.

For those of you that saw the video I posted a few days ago, it's pretty clear that form is important.  The problem is, your form has a tendency to go to crap.  My goes out the window at around the six mile mark.  This means that unless I want to run under six miles in order to mitigate injury, I need to make sure I have something else in the tool kit.  So the final wrench in the bag is an old pair of New Balance shoes I bought a few years ago.  They're worn as hell but have plenty of life left in them.  I'm not slamming my foot in the ground anymore so they're working pretty well for me.  I wish they were lighter but I'm going to wait to replace them when the budget permits.

And no, I'm not really sure which of these I'm going to run the MCM in just yet.  Everything feels fine to be honest.  I'm also thinking about grabbing some of these Classics just to prove a point. But I'm not ready to get too cocky yet.

I suppose the moral here is that I've gotten to the point where WHAT is on my feet is not nearly as important as HOW I put those feet on the ground.  We'll see just how far that little philosophy can take me.

By Marcus with 5 comments


Let's see if I understand this: In today's army, if you're way outnumbered in a firefight and it goes hand-to-hand, you ask the enemy for a time out so you can put on your running shoes, rather than taking off in combat boots.

I guess it doesn't matter much if you carry the boots with you or leave them behind.

8;) -- Larry

Well, I a total Newton geek. They are not minimalistic, on the contrary. But, they really help promote a midfoot/forefoot strike.


Yeah I think that's my point really, I mean, I'm not in the camp that says it's absolutely horrible to run shod. Nor do I think it's particularly fair for shoe companies to make it sound like running barefoot is the root of all evils.

As a "for instance" I'm not a huge fan of the Newton scare tactics on their website. I think it's talking out of both sides of their mouth to say, run natural but barefoot or minimal is bad. That being said, I think their product has the right mindset, sort of a happy medium but I dislike their recent method of barefoot bashing. And of course, if they weren't 150 bones I'd give them a shot :)

Thanks for the helpful info. You're talking me into trying barefoot running. After my unfortunate "Rocky" experience in Newtons resulted in plantar facititis I've been running with stability and inserts -- super wimpy. I'm going to try a five minute barefoot job on the beach and report back to the Jackalope. If the run causes so much pain that I'm unable to jump around and dance to Briddy beats, your karmic payback will be me pelting you with tomatoes and cauliflower every other mile on your big run.

Radishes have a better aerodynamic quality and better heft, but whatever . . ..

I honestly can't see you running on the beach and disliking it. Once you do that for a few weeks or a month you can move on to the street.

Trust me, ya gonna love it.

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