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

Friday, December 3, 2010

I've accepted the inevitable . . .

As I've been saying over the past few days, I think the shod vs. unshod analysis starts with balance and joint alignment. I've accepted, after numerous trials, that my body has fully adapted to barefoot and minimalist (true minimalist) running and while I can/could run in cushioned shoes (i.e., minimal racing flat type shoes) it would require me to go through another adaption period to learn how to run with more cushion under my feet and I have no interest in going through another adaption period.

After spending 2 yrs. since I starting barefoot running, I've been adapting or, as I prefer to call it, returning my body to its natural state and relying on my body for performance as opposed to gear/ gadgets. My body has been always talking to me but I've always tried to return to racing shoes, or at least add racing shoes to my
rotation, and I've been able to do so and do so without injury or pain for limited periods of time. I can rotate racing shoes just fine but if I run in racing shoes on too many consecutive days, then tension arises in parts of my body, starting with me knees. I always stop at that point so it's never turned into a serious injury but it would if I continued.

This morning, I had a hard 1 hr. all hill run at 5k "effort" pace. It was very warm this morning in Denver (41F at 6:30 am) so I warmed up barefoot on the asphalt and "loved it." Normally, it's too cold and I warm up on the treadmill barefoot. Then, I laced up the Evo's and hit the hills for 55 minutes at a 6:25 pace and it was absolutely "effortless." The ability to control my body, my stride length, my stride rate, etc. is uncanny while barefoot, in Evo's or KSO's. But, even with racing shoes like Nike Zoom Streak XC's, Katana's, or F-Lite 195's, I can immediately feel the difference and my body does adjust but the problem now is I hate the adjustment because my body has fully adapted to barefoot/minimalist running and in fact, expects a certain level of ground and sensory feel.

The cool thing is I can honestly say I tried the standard shoe thing,
over and over, and gave it a fair try even as I continued to improve
my form. What I like is that it's not that I can't run in shoes, it's
that it feels weird and would require me to learn how to run in shoes
and I have no interest in going back to that world. I can't come up
with one reason to return to that world when all my PR's times are in
Evo's so I can't even say I run faster in racing shoes when it's the
opposite as I run faster in Evo's. And, more importantly, I run
injury free while running barefoot/minimalist.

I never thought I'd reach the point where it's weird to even run in the lightest and most minimalist racing shoes available. I attribute most of it to the cushion but obviously the heel differential probably has some impact but I think the biggest impact to me at least, is the cushion, especially soft cushion where the foot sinks into the cushion which obviously makes it more difficult to balance thus impacting joint alignment.

So I'll remember this day as the day I had to finally draw the line in the sand and call "true" minimalist shoes as the most I can deal with on my feet down to barefoot (anything above the true minimalist threshold is a "no go"). I still need something for more difficult trails but instead of relying on shoes, I've decided to commit to learning how to run on more difficult trails in minimalist shoes. At one time, I couldn't run on the packed trails barefoot and I do it without problems today but it took over 1 yr. so it will take time but the end result is worth it.



  1. Harry, I hope the totally minimalist running works for you and that you stay injury free for life.


  2. Thanks Al. I appreciate it. The only issues I've ever had is when I use regular shoes. I've never had an issue in minimalist footwear.


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