Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Response to Sarah Stanley

Responded to this post at Sarah Stanley's blog ...  she wrote about liking the idea of running barefoot, but unfortunately goes on to recommend using Superfeet insoles, which are OTC orthotics.  I wrote the following:

It is too bad Nike messed up by giving the Free shoe an elevated heel - they missed part of the point of running barefoot.  Their Zoom Waffle XC (a $35 shoe) provides a much closer to barefoot experience than the Free series shoes.  I do about 30% of my mileage barefoot (May-November).  In 35 years of running, besides running 100+ mile weeks in my twenties, it is the best thing I have ever done for my running.  I used to be a heel striker, and I used to get injured.  I don't do either anymore, even when I run in shoes - which are always XC flats, both on and off road.  I admittedly can't run and race barefoot as fast as I do wearing shoes.  That and cold NJ weather in winter are the only things that really keep me using shoes.

I am kinda glad all runners are not jumping into running barefoot for several reasons.  The selfish reason is it retains my training edge over people that stick to the shoe company marketing brainwashing about the need for their expensive stuff, that continue to run with poor inefficient technique, and continue to get injured.  I'm also glad because for most people used to elevated heels, cushioning & support, jumping into it will lead to injuries.  Runners should never change something in training abruptly, even if it is a return to the running technique we were genetically designed to perform.  It takes a year or so to slowly add barefoot running to your training.  I have been a member of the online barefoot running community for a few years (see runningbarefoot.org) - and I know this is hard to believe, but people just don't get cut by glass or step on nails.  It is the #1 fear cited by people to fault running barefoot, but it just does not happen.  The hazards out there are exaggerated, you tend to avoid them as you would if shod, and your foot is a lot tougher than you have been led to believe.  Your foot is more likely to get brutalized by the inside of a shoe, via blisters and chafing and resident bacteria.

1 comment:

Debra said...

I haven't read Sarah Stanley's blog but I would definitely agree with you about Nike Frees. Why did they add that stupid heel. I might give the zoom waffle a go, but right now I'm trying out vibram fivefingers, which so far are a joy to run in.

I'm just getting back to running after quite a break so it's good to be reminded that it takes a year or so to become a barefoot runner, though maybe that's quicker if you're starting from scratch?

I'm also not sure I can run barefoot all year round - if last year's winter was anything to go by I'll have more than my share of snow.

Thanks for an interesting and helpful post.