Life is like music; it must be composed by ear, feeling, and instinct, not by rule.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shoes, Good/Bad?

After trying many different approaches to running including running barefoot, in VFFs, water socks, and racing flats, I've come to one conclusion. The barefoot runners and the shod runners are both right and both wrong to some extent, in my opinion. Many barefoot runners fail to admit that you can run in shods without injury. Many shod runners fail to admit the benefits for running barefoot. For me, the answer is in the middle.

I believe it is unrealistic to think any large percentage of runners will adopt barefoot running as their primary way to run. I also believe it possible to run injury free in shods and I'm doing it right now. The winter forced me back to my racing flats and I've been injury free. However, the real question is, "what type of running shoes are good and bad?" I think anything beyond a racing flat is bad, plain and simple. The foot doesn't need much and the built up cushion and arch systems in most shoes are bad and weaken the foot. Many racing flats are very light with minimal build up underneath which is very similar to running shoes in the 1960's and 1970's.

As for barefoot running, many college country country programs use barefoot running to improve running technique and to strengthen the foot. The trick, and real challenge, is to mimic your barefoot running technique in running shoes. This is very difficult to do and takes time and concentration to hard wire the running form in your brain so it is natural when you put on the running shoes. Things like a minimum of 180 strides per minute, bending the knees, straight upper body with slight lean at the hips, relaxing, etc., all help with this.

My main point is don't accept what the running companies say at face value and don't accept what the barefoot runners tell you at face value. Listen, research and come up with an approach and answer specific to your expectations and goals.


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