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

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The $10 Million Dollar Question & Challenge

So today, for the first time since my PF flare up, I decided to run in my Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing shoes and I had a great run with no pain, no PF issues, and so that's the good news. However, as many of you know, I've basically gone 2 weeks only running either barefoot or in Sockwas (which is pretty close to barefoot running). This is the same outcome as last year when I got Achilles Tendonitis and I went 100% barefoot for 2 months then the first couple of times I ran in my racing shoes, I had no pain and no issues.

However, I noticed some key things which tell me AGAIN that the key to running in shoes is to run the same way you run barefoot which is what the East Africans can do because they spent so much time barefoot growing up and the barefoot running style is hard coded in their brains, form and technique.

Here were the clear differences this morning running in my shods vs. running in my shods before my PF flare up:

1. Straighter back;

2. Shorter stride;

3. Higher cadence. My shod cadence today was the same as my barefoot cadence which is 198-202. However, prior to this PF flare up, my shod cadence reduced to 192 which is good but the 6-10 stride per minute difference is material (at least to me) especially if you consider the differential over 5, 10, 15 miles, etc. (this was at a 8:30 pace); and

4. I felt my quad muscles again and I didn't feel them while running mostly shod. I also felt my calfs which mean I'm not engaging the same muscle groups if I run only shod. Over time, if I only run shod, my form and technique changes and I get sloppy. This is verified since it's the second time I experienced the difference when I take time off from shod running and only run BF then return to shods.

The cool thing is the Problem and Key Challenge is clear but the right mix to address the Problem is the tricky part. The Key Question is:

What percentage (%) of barefoot running do I need in order to maintain a barefoot running style in shods?

I suspect this is the key question for many others that decide to use any shods in their running schedule.

The Keyans had 10-15 years of BF running before turning to shoes so we are "way behind" the eight ball. For my run this morning, I did 1.2 miles barefoot as the warm-up and .5 miles barefoot for the warm-down and 4 miles in my Mizuno's. So, on a % basis, 40% - 45% of my run was barefoot. I haven't figured this out completely but I will definitely continue to warm up and warm down barefoot and I'm also thinking of a regular mid-week longer run barefoot (or VFFs) of about 5-6 miles. Using the data I have so far, I'm thinking if I will use shods at all, 20% barefoot is not enough as I'll need to be more in the 40% - 50% barefoot weekly mileage range (Tuck, this makes me think of your question yesterday about the 50/50 mix).

But my main point is something we've discussed which is it appears it is possible to run pretty injury free in shods but that's the easy part. The challenge is what you need to do in order to run in shods. This will vary by person but I believe without question that barefoot running is integral although the individual question again is "How much BF does one need to effectively run in Shods?"


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