Saturday, November 12, 2011

2011 Streak Day 290 (Thursday Oct 20th): On minimalist shoes

2011 Streak Day 290 (Thursday Oct 20th): Walk 3 miles  time 1 hr, Weather autumn is proving to be surprisingly nice

The reason for the picture is to show the way the shadows lengthen as the sun gets lower in the sky. It makes for some lovely patterns.
Otherwise the main event was the arrival of new running shoes (which I wrote about). The shoes in themselves are standard running shoes with a built-up heel and lots of cushioning. The type of shoe I mostly run in (not the particular model, it is only my second pair of Vomeros).
It used to be so simple. There were basically three types of shoe, neutral, support, and motion control and you looked for the ones that fitted you feet the best in the appropriate category. Now however there is growing interest in barefoot running and the shoe manufacturers have responded  with a range of minimalist and lightweight shoes, which adds a complication.
My problem is that I do not face the radical divide of heel strike and traditional trainers, or  minimalist trainers and a forefoot strike. I have always landed on my forefoot/midfoot but done so in normal trainers.  In fact I like having a degree of heel because after the initial strike my heel drops and I find it more comfortable if it is then supported by the shoe. 
Because of all fuss about barefoot running I felt obliged to try some minimalist shoes with zero heel drop but did not find them particularly comfortable and certainly there was no moment of revelation where I thought I had discovered the proper biomechanical way to run. So I gave up. However I do still have a problem in finding shoes with the right amount drop between heel and forefoot, i.e. something between nothing and normal.
There are possibilities: Newtons, which look interesting but have a price that puts me off, Nike Frees, which are shoes I should have probably tried before now, and Saucony and Brooks who are introducing shoes with less drop. There is scope for experimentation but it is an example of why we need running shops with a good range as I need to try them on before buying. Unfortunately my local running shop does not stock these sort of shoes so I probably need to travel further afield.
However it is not a big problem. Although I would like to find the perfect pair of shoes, I am happy to run in just about anything. My main problems have nothing to do with my trainers and everything to do with lack of condition, sticking to a proper training regime, and carrying too much weight. Fix those and everything falls into place.
This means I am remarkably feeble when people debate forefoot vs heelstrike. I really do not have a position. I tend to believe that everybody should run in the way that feels most natural and that most injuries come from training mistakes rather than failures of style. However if anybody does experiment by switching to minimal shoes and finds it enhances their pleasure and performance then I am happy for them. If however someone heelstrikes and feels pressure to change because of all the talk and books such as Born to Run I would advise caution, if there are no other reasons. In other words there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.
This New York Times article on the fashion for minimalist shoes has some interesting comments.

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