Thursday, September 3, 2009

Going Bare, I Mean Minimalist

I can't seem to get more than 300 miles out of a pair of running shoes, and that's not good. At 70 miles per week, I'll go through a pair of shoes in 3-4 weeks. That's $80-100 a month just to train, and I can't afford that. (Truth be told, I would probably put up with it, but someone else in my house would not. No, they'd make a very big deal out of it, indeed).

So, I'm speeding up my plan to transition to a minimalist shoe in the hopes that I get better mileage out of them. You see, I've been researching this whole "minimalist" running shoe thing, and I believe I go through shoes so fast because I wear a very cushioned neutral shoe. The logic goes something like this: The softer the shoe is, the harder you have to make impact with the ground to be able to "feel" the foot strike. It follows that the harder you hit the ground, the faster the shoe wears out.

In theory, I am behind the idea of minimalist running shoes, even barefoot running. I agree that running shoes are the cause of a lot of injuries. The built up heel forces you to strike with the heel first, which is like putting on the breaks with each step.

Theory is one thing. It's totally different to actually try running in a minimalist shoe. I mean, it's downright scarey to make the change. After all these years of shod running, aren't my feet muscles basically worthless by now? Aren't I going to get injured by doing this??

Well, I threw caution to the wind, and bought a pair of Nike Free's. When I first tried them out, I noticed my feet feeling a little sore, but it wasn't that I was injured, I was using muscles that I wasnt used to using. I started out by running no more than 2 or 3 miles in them, and my feet adjusted nicely.

I train in them now for all of my recovery runs and speed work. I havent run more than 8 miles at once in them, but I have definatly noticed an improvement in my running form, and alignment issues. It's kind of exciting.

Now when I switch over to my Adidas super cushioned shoe, it feels horrible. Like blocks of concrete on my feet. Heavy, cushiony concrete.

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