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View Full Version : Born to run far, but KISS



John B
10-27-2009, 09:01
An article in today's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27well.html) is about the growing body of evidence that the simpler and more basic the trail running shoe, the better it is for you. The article talks about evolutionary and anthropological evidence for the proposition that humans are well-suited to run great distances.

The article also talks about why so many distance runners today are prone to injury and mentions three likely reasons: (1) distance running tends to be popular among older runners, many of whom did not start running until later in life and thus their bodies aren't as prepared; (2) training programs that are too aggressive ("run a marathon in only 16 weeks!"; and (3) running shoes that provide too much cushioning and support, which, over time, negatively affects the ancillary muscles, tendons, and ligaments needed for a proper gait, thus the shoes themselves contribute to injury.

The lessons to take from this? Don't overtrain, don't try to run through injuries, train on dirt/grass trails where possible instead of hard pavement, and seriously rethink the shoes you're using and move towards simpler, unsupported, minimally cushioned shoes.

My editorial comment is that this dovetails perfectly with Kenyan and other contemporary east African distance training programs (along with those now being used by top American runners such as Kerri Wells and Ryan Hall, to name but a few). I read that even Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach has installed a sand track and he requires players to run barefoot on it, believing that the unevenness quickly develops greater leg stability, thus reducing injury.

Pedaling Fool
10-27-2009, 10:08
Thatís a great article. Iím one of those "late starters" in running, but luckily Iíve already learned the importance of not pushing (too much) through pain; yet I donít try and avoid pain Ė itís a balancing act, hence I never take "pain" medication. I also donít use products like body-glide (sp?), so when I get that chaffing pain I figure itís time to stop, despite feeling like I could go much further, just another way to slowly build up my knees/tendonsÖ

Running barefoot on the beach is also great for building up those underused muscles/tendons. I had been running for over a year and thought Iíd never get shin splints again, until I started running on soft sand and that most-familiar pain came back Ė just more weakness leaving the body.:sun

I also believe that participating in only low-impact exercices will turn you into a wimp with great cardio-vascular capacity; being in good physical shape requires much more than cardio capability.

I wear $15 wal-mart shoes

Ender
10-27-2009, 10:41
I'm just finishing up the book Born to Run, which is a great read. There's really quite a lot of evidence that the overbuilt shoes of today do more harm than good, especially when it comes to running. It's really making me rethink shoes overall.

One important point though, is that we can't just jump into the low-tech shoes and immediatly expect things to go smoothly. Our muscles and tendons are used to the modern shoe, and it will take time to retrain them into the "new" style. So, take it slow when making the switch, but in the long run you'll most likely be better off.

Wrangler88
10-27-2009, 11:15
I'm just finishing up the book Born to Run, which is a great read. There's really quite a lot of evidence that the overbuilt shoes of today do more harm than good, especially when it comes to running. It's really making me rethink shoes overall.

One important point though, is that we can't just jump into the low-tech shoes and immediatly expect things to go smoothly. Our muscles and tendons are used to the modern shoe, and it will take time to retrain them into the "new" style. So, take it slow when making the switch, but in the long run you'll most likely be better off.



Yeah, I switched to the Vibram shoes and I felt the soreness throughout my legs and feet for a week or two. (Been wearing them as my only shoe now for a few months.) I've ran in them several times and they felt really good. (Without trying to start off with too much. Usually about 2 miles or so.) But I like the freedom they offer my feet. It feels a lot more natural. I really like them. Also after a good run, my legs are a lot more sore than they would have been in the past when running in traditional sneakers.

Pickleodeon
10-27-2009, 12:46
hm, interesting.

What about road running in the Vibram five fingers? After thruhiking this year, my knees, ankles, and feet are still sore. I'm afraid that the impact of running on roads will be even worse without some cushion. I was hiking in trail runners most of the time (montrail hardrocks, etc.) I hiked in really flexible wimpy Adidas trail runners through PA (I'm from PA and used to rocks) but my feet were so sore without the cushion- I hated them.

Pedaling Fool
10-27-2009, 14:57
hm, interesting.

What about road running in the Vibram five fingers? After thruhiking this year, my knees, ankles, and feet are still sore. I'm afraid that the impact of running on roads will be even worse without some cushion. I was hiking in trail runners most of the time (montrail hardrocks, etc.) I hiked in really flexible wimpy Adidas trail runners through PA (I'm from PA and used to rocks) but my feet were so sore without the cushion- I hated them.
If you're still sore you might want to take some time off from running, but not too much time. It's a judgement call; I've run and hiked through pain, but only in modest amounts. You may want to look into doing another activity while you're still healing from your hike.

I use to experience really bad knee pains, I took up weightlifting and my kness are stronger now than when I was in my 30s.

I keep my running shoes until they are literally falling apart, the pair I have now are missing the tread portion of the soles -- they were coming unglued, so I just ripped them off, they provide virtually no cushion. You're feet will heal, may take a really long time, but they will heal as long as you keep active without causing too much damage. Take time away from running/hiking, but don't become inactive, find something you can do.

Spokes
10-27-2009, 15:11
Hmmm......... Tell that to 76 year old Geoff Oliver who set a world's age best performances (track) for running 100miles in 24 hours in the over 75 age group (October 2009).
Anomaly? Maybe.

http://uk.srichinmoyraces.org/node/4713

"Pain is temporary. Glory is forever"

Wrangler88
10-27-2009, 18:35
hm, interesting.

What about road running in the Vibram five fingers? After thruhiking this year, my knees, ankles, and feet are still sore. I'm afraid that the impact of running on roads will be even worse without some cushion. I was hiking in trail runners most of the time (montrail hardrocks, etc.) I hiked in really flexible wimpy Adidas trail runners through PA (I'm from PA and used to rocks) but my feet were so sore without the cushion- I hated them.



Well the concreat isn't the most forgiving or comfortable but it isn't too bad to me at a moderate jog. I think I've just gotten use to the lack of padding and how it makes my feet feel afterward.

But I will say that running in them on a high school track in Texas in the summer isn't that great. Your feet will get crazy hot. As if you were standing on asphalt barefoot when it's 100 degrees outside.

Wilson
10-27-2009, 21:58
Without the cushy shoes you can't just pound your heels. Learn to run more on the balls of your foot.

Pedaling Fool
11-19-2009, 15:21
I did my first barefoot run on pavement today and it was surprisingly comfortable, other than the harshness felt on the soles of my feet. I always believed I would feel a lot of jarring impact, but hardly felt much of a difference than with shoes on --- only did two miles, I will have blisters tomorrow.

Ender
11-19-2009, 15:52
So I went out and bought the Vibram five-finger shoes, and have run a few times in them now. It's a world of difference for my knees. In the past, any running made my knees hurt. Now, I don't even think about my knees. Seriously... no pain in the knees. My calf muscles, on the other hand, are getting one heck of a workout, and are still sore. Once I build up those muscles, things should go very smoothly.

But yeah, for the first time in a decade and a half, I have no knee pain during/after running. And that is worth all the muscle soreness to me. From now on, I'm only going to use low/no padded shoes for running.

JJJ
11-19-2009, 17:53
Good news, Ender.
I've been migrating to sandals, for all but long technical trail runs, and have experienced much calf tightness and soreness.
But, my PF started healing almost immediately. A few masseuse sessions just on my calves put me on the road to adaptation. Also The Stick is a great maintenance tool.
jjj

4Whatitis
11-23-2009, 13:04
I have the Vibram five-finger KSOs and I like them. The key to doing well on the run is to adjust your stride to a mid-foot instead of heal strike. This allows for natural shock absorption. And like others have said your calfs will take a while to adjust to the slight difference in foot angle. Shorter strides means more reps for the calfs and that could be part of the soreness. I am in the service and to stay in regs I wear white injinji toe socks and I have to say I like them but on my time they are not a must. I also think it is interesting how you naturally handle road debris. I project foot placement but if I land on a rock my foot conforms a bit and I just move on. Your feet are not high up on a soul so it is harder to roll your ankles. The 3/4" rocks on a hard surface are the worst. My shoes are doing just fine on the dirty, rocky, unkept sometimes muddy and wet streets "inside the wire" here in Iraq. My feet feel good and I like the back to basics of it all.

JAK
11-23-2009, 19:43
I mix it up. I do some running barefoot, on a track, some in very light flats, and some with more cushion and tread.

Okie Dokie
11-24-2009, 01:18
Back when I was really into running I never went out for less than 10 miles at a time, and never less than 50 miles a week...one thing I learned the hard way, several times over, is that no matter what kind of shape you think you're in if you change shoes or running surfaces you better take it easy for a while...the body gets used to the things you have picked out for it to do, compensates, and serves you well...you change what you're asking from it, or what you're providing it to work with, even if the changes are minute, and it needs time to make adjustments...you push it before it's really ready to perform up to your mentally contrived standards and it will let you know with shin splints, tendonitis, etc...sad we can't just will our bodies to do things our mind wants them to do with out delay, but that's reality...

Pedaling Fool
05-01-2010, 10:35
I did my first barefoot run on pavement today and it was surprisingly comfortable, other than the harshness felt on the soles of my feet. I always believed I would feel a lot of jarring impact, but hardly felt much of a difference than with shoes on --- only did two miles, I will have blisters tomorrow.
I have not run too much after this date when I posted this back in Nov. '09. I think I was wearing myself down, basically took the entire winter off. Just got back into running couple of weeks ago and I'm surprised at how quickly I regained my old form and then surpassed it. I feel much stronger now and almost feel comfortable running (late-starter and use to really hate running), like I can get in and stay in a rhythm; I think the time off really helped. Did my first barefoot run Thursday, since Nov. and my feet are still a little "hot", I didn't expect them to be that soft.

I really do believe the body evolved to run long distances as stated in the article the OP linked http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/health/27well.html

John B
05-01-2010, 18:30
Funny you wrote that, John Gault. I'm coming off of about 4 weeks off. I really screwed up my knees over the winter. I kept running even when I was injured, thinking that maybe if I just ran slowly, things would loosen up and wouldn't hurt so badly. Didn't work at all. I did a half marathon in deep snow and ice on Feb. 2, and at the end of it my right knee was swollen like a freaking grapefruit. So I finally stopped, did icing everyday, started yoga classes twice a week, and in general just tried to get better. I started running again in late March/early April and I couldn't believe how good I felt. I'd forgotten what it was like to run pain-free. My aerobic capacity isn't much less than what it was, either. So I'm starting to crank back up the miles, albeit SLOWLY (about a 10% increase per week). I've also TOSSED OUT the damned shoe inserts, heel pads, etc -- just a plain light-weight running shoe for me now. I have a large undeveloped park adjacent to my property, and I'm going to try some barefoot runs, too. It seems like we're on the same page. Seems like lots more runners are getting back to basics, too, so to speak.

carolinablonde
05-10-2010, 07:58
Glad to see this thread! I used to be a competitive runner when I was a teenager, but sometime in my early 20s I started hating running because I couldn't stand the pounding. I've stuck to walking, hiking, and the ever-boring elliptical ever since. Then my husband got a pair of Five Fingers and I was intrigued and started reading up on barefoot running. I went out and got my own pair and WOW! I like to run again! I've started slowly, only doing 2-3 miles at a time, but it is going well and I'm looking forward to building to longer distances. Thinking back to my childhood, it makes sense that I would prefer barefoot running. I grew up in the country and I didn't wear shoes all summer (It still doesn't naturally occur to me to put shoes on when I'm going outside in warm weather). I think one of the reasons I was so fast was because we had a trampoline in the backyard, which I jumped on constantly with no shoes on. My calves and ankles were probably super strong as a result. Running in the Five Fingers makes me feel like a kid again!

JAK
05-10-2010, 09:37
Something that doesn't get mentioned enough is the importance of reducing your body weight, especially as you grow older. Every 10 pounds you drop mean alot more running you can do, and faster too of course. I think most of the problems runner have is not so much the overbuilt shoes, but the amount of running we do when we are still trying to get our weight down to where it should be for distance running.

John B
05-10-2010, 10:40
The experts weigh in at Runners World:
http://gear.runnersworld.com/2010/04/one-barefoot-step-at-a-time.html

Just Plain Pete
05-12-2010, 13:20
I have used, and will continue to use NB trail runners because they are the only company with my size(7EEEE). I buy whatever is on sale. I am not a distance runner, usually doing 3-4 every day on trails like the Bartram, which runs through my county. As an older runner, will be 69 next month, I listen to my body.

Pedaling Fool
02-18-2011, 11:05
The experts weigh in at Runners World:
http://gear.runnersworld.com/2010/04/one-barefoot-step-at-a-time.html
Still hung-up on the barefooted running thing...


As you stated before, there are NO elite marathon runners that advocate running barefoot -- or at least don't run barefoot in races. But I'm curious about the overall feeling about feet and running. Do they (the community of elite runners/coaches) think the heel-strike running is OK? From the above article it seems like at least one person doesn't care about it.

From my perspective it seems like it is a bad thing (heel-strike), but then again, I'm not an experienced runner (late starter in life). And all the talk about position of center of gravity being the real concern people should focus on. I can't even relate to that:confused: I guess it's something that I do naturally, but not something that really gets a lot of conscience thought, unlike foot-strike, that's easy to conceptualize and adjust.

It seems to me that a lot of Kenyan runners start out life running barefoot, probably more out of necessity than a training technique. But curious if they still utilize barefoot running in their training once they've reached the "big time"?

Are there any stats of how many elite runners do heel-strike vs. striking more forward on the foot?

sbhikes
02-18-2011, 11:29
I run in these:
http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4153/5414738284_3c3160894b.jpg

On trails. I made them myself. They are awesome.

My feet still hurt from after my hike. I reached the Canadian border on August 31, 2009. I don't know if my feet will ever feel the same. But I swear, since I made these sandals and have been wearing them I honestly think they are getting better. But some days I think they are getting worse. So I'm not sure. But anyway, running in something that doesn't squish is much easier in my opinion.

valiweva
02-18-2011, 20:48
saw a real fit guy at my first boston try to run it barefoot,He dropped out at natick(8to 9miles)into the race.

markc7
02-19-2011, 04:17
It's true that no elite marathoners run shoeless. But they wear racing flats, which arguably have more in common with barefoot/minimalist running than with the heavy, highly cushioned, high tech trainers that most recreational runners use. I doubt there are any elite runners who heel-strike as prominently as recreational runners are told to do.

People that jumped on the barefoot bandwagon thinking it would be a miracle cure to all running injuries are foolish. It is a pretty substantial change to try to re-wire your brain, legs, and feet from a lifetime of shoe wearing, and needs to be done very slowly.

Mags
02-19-2011, 18:48
I'd be curious of barefoot trail running vs running with shoes. I would think running on pavement barefoot would hurt like a bastard.

Having said that, I'll stick to my trail shoes for now. :)

Pedaling Fool
10-29-2011, 15:32
Are there any stats of how many elite runners do heel-strike vs. striking more forward on the foot?I found some running instructional videos on youtube and it seems that they all talk about the importance of NOT striking the heel, not only is it hard on the body, but because of the mechanics involved striking the heel is basically like putting on the brakes, while running. Here's a good example of one of the videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsUfo_jHQ60 One good way to tell if you're striking the heel is to look at teh wear pattern on your shoes, if you're striking the heel you'll see more wear on the heel; but probably want to be careful if you use the shoes also for walking, since that naturally involved heel striking. There's also videos that go more indepth on how to determine your foot stike http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pODcT55_7zA&feature=related

There's also a video on how to transition from street running to trail running. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TB5xdxgS-dQ

Pedaling Fool
11-05-2011, 10:06
Tomorrow (6 Nov) is the ING New York City marathon and I was hoping to see Shalane Flanagan running, but she's not doing it again this year. And last year's winner is sidelined due to injury, so it looks like the third place finisher is favored to win this year. I thought I read that Flanagan is thinking about running in 2012 London Marathon, but not sure.
http://www.marathonguide.com/news/exclusives/NewYorkCityMarathon2011/NewYorkCityMarathon2011WomensPreview.cfm

Pedaling Fool
11-28-2012, 10:15
We may have been born to run, but still a lot of instuctional sites out there, this is kind of interesting one on Running Economy. http://www.irunfar.com/2011/03/improving-running-economy.html