Showing posts with label barefoot running. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barefoot running. Show all posts

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The pendulum of minimalism

Today's run (street): 3.3 miles

I was reading an article that said the demand for minimal-style running shoes, once a growth segment, is beginning to decline. The book, Born to Run, made many people curious about barefoot-style running, and it forced us to reconsider the merits of the shoes we've always bought.

A few years ago, I saw a video of myself on the treadmill at Jackrabbit Sports. That clearly confirmed that I'm an over-pronater. The salesperson recommended that I buy a beefy, medially-posted "stability" shoe to correct that tendency. After all, they said, my stride made me susceptible to knee and IT band injuries. I wished at the time that I could wear a lighter shoe, but I feared the consequences.

I thought about all this on my run this morning. The idea that shoes with lots of cushioning would prevent certain types of injuries has been increasingly debated and challenged by many. That includes me. I wore out a a pair of Saucony Hattoris after 400 miles and I now run primarily in the Brooks Pure Drifts, Brooks' most minimal shoe. The Hattori and Drift are both simple designs. Each shoe weighs less than 6 ounces and neither has any stability features. After more than 700 miles running in that type of shoe, I haven't encountered a single problem.

Pure Drift

The dash toward barefoot running probably got too many people into minimal shoes too soon. Many are now going back to more cushy footwear. But the game has changed, and now even stability shoes have lighter construction. I know that many people feel that the shoe makes the runner. After 3+ years of (mostly) injury-free running, in barely-there neutral trainers, I respectfully disagree.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I'm no running addict!

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

You know you're an activity-focused person when you wake up happy that your day's workout is only a 25 minute elliptical session. It's not that the elliptical is light exercise, it just feels easier than the treadmill. I used a little more resistance than normal today and finished hot, sweating and with a heart rate that proved I'd worked hard.

Someone recently suggested that I'm addicted to running and I laughed at the idea. I like running -- I suppose at times I love it -- but there's nothing about my experience that fits the definition of addiction. I highly doubt there are meth addicts out there who wake up and have to talk themselves into using their drug of choice. A year ago, when recovering from pneumonia, my doctor ordered me to forgo running for a few weeks. During that time I was worried that I'd lose conditioning and would need to start all over again. It wasn't withdrawal that I'd experienced, it was the fear that all that I'd worked for would be lost.

I think most of us who run, bike, swim or otherwise exercise are driven by the positive results of physical activity. I'm sure there is a small percentage of people who take working out to an extreme level and develop a true dependency for activity. For me, I appreciate the endorphin rush that comes after a hard run but that's really the dessert, certainly not the meal.    

Friday, December 10, 2010

That runner vs. jogger thing

Today's workout (elliptical): 25 minutes

This morning Mark Remy posted a piece on Runner's World about how media covers runners as crime victims or crime discoverers. The key point he makes is that newspapers usually refer to these recreational runners as "joggers" and this insults many runners. Before I stopped posting my daily blog on Runner's World last spring I would occasionally write pieces that I knew would generate lots of comments. The two subjects that I could count on for reaction were treadmill running (love it/hate it) and the terms "jogger" vs. "runner."

I'll admit that I prefer not to be called a jogger. The term seems to diminish the athleticism of the sport. When people call runners "joggers" I assume it's because they know little about running. For me the term jogger evokes a mental picture of an overweight, velour suited, slow moving person wearing tennis shoes and carrying a latte. It's a true cliche and if I wasn't so biased I might concede that it's far better to be that jogger than a person who sits on the sofa all day. Still, I don't want to be that jogger and I don't want anyone to think I'm that jogger.

One of  those commenting on Remy's article suggested that a 9:00 pace is the demarcation point between running and jogging. If that's the case, it appears that I often jog without realizing it. It's just a word but it does seem to generate reaction. Next time I'm attacking the rocky slopes and vertical drops at Stillwell Woods at a 9:50 pace I'll take solace in the fact that it's really just jogging.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

It's not the shoes, it's the runner

A conversation I had this morning at Super Runner's Shop in Huntington, NY and an article in today's New York Times were not connected but similar in subject. My conversation centered around a question I'd asked regarding the performance properties of shoes. I mentioned that I bought a pair of Brooks GTS 9's in April but never felt that they matched the Nike Turbulence 13's they replaced in terms of responsiveness. The person at the store said it was unlikely that a pair of running shoes would make much of a difference unless I'd switched to very lightweight trainers that lack cushioning and are made for competitive runners. The Times article "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants" made that point a different way citing the emerging popularity of minimalist shoes that mimic the effect of running barefoot. The article mentions companies like Vibram, Feelmax and Terra Plana who have "barefoot running" style products along with Nike, who have found a growing demand for its trainer, the "Free." The article posits a view that modern running shoes do not prevent injuries or promote performance any better than when modern running shoes were introduced 40 years ago.  Later in the article is a counter argument that only biomechanically efficient runners benefit from minimal or barefoot running.

It's probably true that my Brooks have neither helped nor hindered my performance and a quick review of my pace history has confirmed that fact. Before the Brooks I averaged, overall, about a 9:10 pace and that's not far off from where I am today.  All the same I am intrigued when I read running shoe reviews that mention certain brands and models, like the Mizuno Wave series, that are supposed to be highly responsive and provide a competitive advantage. This morning I decided to attack the real problem - the runner - and headed to the track for some speed work. I started out with a brisk warm-up at 6:46/mile for a quarter mile and then did 8x200's at a little less than 6:00/mile. I finished up with an easy run at 8:54 for 1.25 miles, the pace seemed easy after all that high energy sprinting. I was happy that pushing that hard did not lead to any muscle pulls.

Would I do any better were I running with a pair of Brooks T-6's or Vibram FiveFingers Sprints? Maybe, but I have to guess that they would cause as many problems for me as they would solve.  In the meantime I'll appreciate the comfort of my Brooks  GTS 9's and Asics 1130's, the versatility of my NB 460's, the rugged capability of my Helly Hansen Trail Lizards and the energetic feel of my Adidas Trail Response 15's.

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