Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Truth About My Shoes

Nitmos knows how to cut right through my bullshit. In his comment to yesterday's post about my new choice of running footwear, he writes, "Is this part 4 of the What Else Can I Put On My Feet -- Except Running Shoes -- To Run In series? Wake me when you get to watermelon rinds."

Usually, I save my rebuttals to the peanut gallery for Flashback Friday, but this one deserves its own post.

So let's cut right through the bullshit: I run better in running shoes.

So why the hell am I fucking around with bare feet and homemade sandals and other cheap-ass alternatives?

Well, for one, I'm a cheap ass. But secondly, these experiments have been good for my running -- I think.

My best running performances have so far always been in shoes, and I feel my running has only improved since I started wearing my Brooks racing flats, which I've been running in since after the 2009 Akron Marathon. In fact, I haven't worn any other running shoe since Feb. 11. Perhaps that is the date that my full conversion to minimalist running began.

I've only had a few injuries in my short running career. Some of those might have been from wearing shoes, but those injuries might just as well have been caused by poor form. And that's where my experiments in footwear have benefited my running.

But the truth remains that I run better in shoes.

Running barefoot and in huaraches and aqua socks have improved how I run: strengthening my running limbs, quickening my cadence, smoothing my form and teaching me how to feel when I run.

I stopped believing the marketing behind running shoes, but that doesn't mean I've jumped on board with the barefoot marketing. Neither the right shoe nor bare feet is the cure-all for anyone's running woes. The cure is the right form.

"There has to be one best way of running," Nike coach Alberto Salazar said recently. "It's got to be like a law of physics."

That's what I believe to be the truth. Running in a variety of footwear on a variety of terrains has helped me realize this, but I still run better in running shoes.

And no, Nitmos, this is only Part 2, because bare feet don't count as something I can put on. Next up: duct tape!


Anonymous said...

You had to have read my post before blogging this morning. I am with you 100%.

Nitmos said...

Well, now that was a good rebuttal. I can get behind that reasoning - all except for Salazar's comment. With the human form being what it is in so many different shapes/sizes/centers of gravity, etc, there can't possibly be "one best way of running" for everyone. No way. Maybe if we were all similar clone-like machines like the droids in I, Robot we could identify the efficiency but...we're not. However, there must be One Best Way of Running for YOU. Good luck in your search.

Incidentally, in response to my sarcastic comments, most people just say "f*ckin' a$$hole" and ignore me. Just so you know for the future.

David said...

Amen. The experiment of one continues. Good work.

Nitmos - you no longer have the responsibility to post an anti-bare foot f*ckin' a$$hole diatribe on your own blog.

Vava said...

I agree with Nitmos (shudder!), but cookie-cutter approaches to anything almost always fail. In running each person has his/her perfect form, and perhaps running barefoot will help them find what that is. Trying to run like someone else when your body is not built to handle that technique will surely lead to injury.

Anyway, it's great that your experiments with minimalism are working. That's the key!

Barefoot Johnny O said...

Traitor. HeHeHe. Seriously, not everyone can be as perfect and tough as me, so I understand your reliance on footwear. No, really seriously, most runners throughout the millenniums have had some form of protection on their feet. The crime of cushioned footwear has been thrust upon us in the last 40 years.

Jen Feeny said...

I'm loving all the info and your take on things... especially working through injuries, attempting to work on my form and work into minimalist shoes myself. Keep 'em coming... er wait... did you say duct tape?

Unknown said...

I found my form and fell in love with running again in bare feet. I run better barefoot but if I want to run doubles for a week or push a 50lb spawn in a stroller on hill work day, I need some shoes. The more minimal the better but shoes are tools.

you don't use a fat blade to cut a thin slice or any other tool related analogy . The tool has to be appropriate for the job. So far fat ass trainers have not been the appropriate shoes for keeping injury rates down.

Duct tape, a towel, swiss army knife, and trash bags are the most handy things in the world to have around.
I think flats are a great alternative.

Unknown said...

last year at the living history farms xc race I duct taped my shoes to my feet and my timing chip to my shoes. I was wearing slip on water shoes to run in and didn't want them sucked off my feet in the muddy creek crossings. The duct tape worked and I came home with both shoes :)

C said...

Duct tape is the answer to most things, I think. Well, except when you have to remove it. Ouchie.

the erratic epicurean said...

if you run the akron marathon without shoes you will be my hero. i'll even make you something delicious - some jams or bbq sauce - whatever you want!

Eric said...

Nice. I made myself some huaraches from some cheap old flip-flops and I love running in them. I'm thinking about getting a pair from Invisible Shoe since the soles are thinner and (thus) better.

Spike said...

I enjoy running while using my five-fingers for all of the reasons you stated, and I'll race in flats, but I love me some running shoes for anything longer than a 10K--I've bought into the hype.

Ms. V. said...

Is this part 4 of the What Else Can I Put On My Feet -- Except Running Shoes -- To Run In series? Wake me when you get to watermelon rinds."

OMG I haven't laughed so hard all day. GET YOUR SHOES CHEAPO!!