The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste



  • OK it's a large article but well and truly worth the read specially all you fatbusters out there punching the pavement and are going through the foot and leg pain as I am.

    The main article is here.... [url="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html"]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive ... money.html[/url]
    complete with pictures and probably easier to read, however for those too lazy to link off to it I've quoted it below

    I'm also going to post this on the main page as I think it will generate a bit of interest even from the non-fatbusters but wanted it mainly here for all youse/us hard working fatbusters.

    Note: read this article about two weeks after I spent $200 on some new runners specially picked to help stop the pain in my heel. This is the most I've ever spent on any form of footwear even my bike boots.

    [quote name='dailymail']
    [b]The painful truth about trainers: Are running shoes a waste of money?[/b]

    Thrust enhancers, roll bars, microchips...the $20 billion running - shoe industry wants us to believe that the latest technologies will cushion every stride. Yet in this extract from his controversial new book, Christopher McDougall claims that injury rates for runners are actually on the rise, that everything we've been told about running shoes is wrong - and that it might even be better to go barefoot...
    [b]By CHRISTOPHER McDOUGALL[/b]

    [b]Last updated at 8:01 PM on 19th April 2009[/b]
    Comments (116) Add to My Stories

    Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same
    At Stanford University, California, two sales representatives from Nike were watching the athletics team practise. Part of their job was to gather feedback from the company's sponsored runners about which shoes they preferred.
    Unfortunately, it was proving difficult that day as the runners all seemed to prefer... nothing.

    'Didn't we send you enough shoes?' they asked head coach Vin Lananna. They had, he was just refusing to use them.
    'I can't prove this,' the well-respected coach told them.

    'But I believe that when my runners train barefoot they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.'

    Nike sponsored the Stanford team as they were the best of the very best. Needless to say, the reps were a little disturbed to hear that Lananna felt the best shoes they had to offer them were not as good as no shoes at all.

    When I was told this anecdote it came as no surprise. I'd spent years struggling with a variety of running-related injuries, each time trading up to more expensive shoes, which seemed to make no difference. I'd lost count of the amount of money I'd handed over at shops and sports-injury clinics - eventually ending with advice from my doctor to give it up and 'buy a bike'.

    And I wasn't on my own. Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same. It doesn't matter if you're male or female, fast or slow, pudgy or taut as a racehorse, your feet are still in the danger zone.

    But why? How come Roger Bannister could charge out of his Oxford lab every day, pound around a hard cinder track in thin leather slippers, not only getting faster but never getting hurt, and set a record before lunch?

    Then there's the secretive Tarahumara tribe, the best long-distance runners in the world. These are a people who live in basic conditions in Mexico, often in caves without running water, and run with only strips of old tyre or leather thongs strapped to the bottom of their feet. They are virtually barefoot.

    Come race day, the Tarahumara don't train. They don't stretch or warm up. They just stroll to the starting line, laughing and bantering, and then go for it, ultra-running for two full days, sometimes covering over 300 miles, non-stop. For the fun of it. One of them recently came first in a prestigious 100-mile race wearing nothing but a toga and sandals. He was 57 years old.

    When it comes to preparation, the Tarahumara prefer more of a Mardi Gras approach. In terms of diet, lifestyle and training technique, they're a track coach's nightmare. They drink like New Year's Eve is a weekly event, tossing back enough corn-based beer and homemade tequila brewed from rattlesnake corpses to floor an army.

    Unlike their Western counterparts, the Tarahumara don't replenish their bodies with electrolyte-rich sports drinks. They don't rebuild between workouts with protein bars; in fact, they barely eat any protein at all, living on little more than ground corn spiced up by their favourite delicacy, barbecued mouse.

    How come they're not crippled?

    I've watched them climb sheer cliffs with no visible support on nothing more than an hour's sleep and a stomach full of pinto beans. It's as if a clerical error entered the stats in the wrong columns. Shouldn't we, the ones with state-of-the-art running shoes and custom-made orthotics, have the zero casualty rate, and the Tarahumara, who run far more, on far rockier terrain, in shoes that barely qualify as shoes, be constantly hospitalised?

    The answer, I discovered, will make for unpalatable reading for the $20 billion trainer-manufacturing industry. It could also change runners' lives forever.

    Dr Daniel Lieberman, professor of biological anthropology at Harvard University, has been studying the growing injury crisis in the developed world for some time and has come to a startling conclusion: 'A lot of foot and knee injuries currently plaguing us are caused by people running with shoes that actually make our feet weak, cause us to over-pronate (ankle rotation) and give us knee problems.

    'Until 1972, when the modern athletic shoe was invented, people ran in very thin-soled shoes, had strong feet and had a much lower incidence of knee injuries.'

    Lieberman also believes that if modern trainers never existed more people would be running. And if more people ran, fewer would be suffering from heart disease, hypertension, blocked arteries, diabetes, and most other deadly ailments of the Western world.

    'Humans need aerobic exercise in order to stay healthy,' says Lieberman. 'If there's any magic bullet to make human beings healthy, it's to run.'

    The modern running shoe was essentially invented by Nike. The company was founded in the Seventies by Phil Knight, a University of Oregon runner, and Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon coach.

    Before these two men got together, the modern running shoe as we know it didn't exist. Runners from Jesse Owens through to Roger Bannister all ran with backs straight, knees bent, feet scratching back under their hips. They had no choice: their only shock absorption came from the compression of their legs and their thick pad of midfoot fat. Thumping down on their heels was not an option.

    Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury preventionBowerman didn't actually do much running. He only started to jog a little at the age of 50, after spending time in New Zealand with Arthur Lydiard, the father of fitness running and the most influential distance-running coach of all time. Bowerman came home a convert, and in 1966 wrote a best-selling book whose title introduced a new word and obsession to the fitness-aware public: Jogging.

    In between writing and coaching, Bowerman came up with the idea of sticking a hunk of rubber under the heel of his pumps. It was, he said, to stop the feet tiring and give them an edge. With the heel raised, he reasoned, gravity would push them forward ahead of the next man. Bowerman called Nike's first shoe the Cortez - after the conquistador who plundered the New World for gold and unleashed a horrific smallpox epidemic.

    It is an irony not wasted on his detractors. In essence, he had created a market for a product and then created the product itself.

    'It's genius, the kind of stuff they study in business schools,' one commentator said.

    Bowerman's partner, Knight, set up a manufacturing deal in Japan and was soon selling shoes faster than they could come off the assembly line.

    'With the Cortez's cushioning, we were in a monopoly position probably into the Olympic year, 1972,' Knight said.

    The rest is history.

    The company's annual turnover is now in excess of $17 billion and it has a major market share in over 160 countries.

    Since then, running-shoe companies have had more than 30 years to perfect their designs so, logically, the injury rate must be in freefall by now.
    After all, Adidas has come up with a $250 shoe with a microprocessor in the sole that instantly adjusts cushioning for every stride. Asics spent $3 million and eight years (three more years than it took to create the first atomic bomb) to invent the Kinsei, a shoe that boasts 'multi-angled forefoot gel pods', and a 'midfoot thrust enhancer'. Each season brings an expensive new purchase for the average runner.

    But at least you know you'll never limp again. Or so the leading companies would have you believe. Despite all their marketing suggestions to the contrary, no manufacturer has ever invented a shoe that is any help at all in injury prevention.

    If anything, the injury rates have actually ebbed up since the Seventies - Achilles tendon blowouts have seen a ten per cent increase. (It's not only shoes that can create the problem: research in Hawaii found runners who stretched before exercise were 33 per cent more likely to get hurt.)

    In a paper for the British Journal Of Sports Medicine last year, Dr Craig Richards, a researcher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

    It was an astonishing revelation that had been hidden for over 35 years. Dr Richards was so stunned that a $20 billion industry seemed to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking that he issued the following challenge: 'Is any running-shoe company prepared to claim that wearing their distance running shoes will decrease your risk of suffering musculoskeletal running injuries? Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their running shoes will improve your distance running performance? If you are prepared to make these claims, where is your peer-reviewed data to back it up?'

    Dr Richards waited and even tried contacting the major shoe companies for their data. In response, he got silence.

    So, if running shoes don't make you go faster and don't stop you from getting hurt, then what, exactly, are you paying for? What are the benefits of all those microchips, thrust enhancers, air cushions, torsion devices and roll bars?

    The answer is still a mystery. And for Bowerman's old mentor, Arthur Lydiard, it all makes sense.

    'We used to run in canvas shoes,' he said.

    'We didn't get plantar fasciitis (pain under the heel); we didn't pronate or supinate (land on the edge of the foot); we might have lost a bit of skin from the rough canvas when we were running marathons, but generally we didn't have foot problems.

    'Paying several hundred dollars for the latest in hi-tech running shoes is no guarantee you'll avoid any of these injuries and can even guarantee that you will suffer from them in one form or another. Shoes that let your foot function like you're barefoot - they're the shoes for me.'

    Soon after those two Nike sales reps reported back from Stanford, the marketing team set to work to see if it could make money from the lessons it had learned. Jeff Pisciotta, the senior researcher at Nike Sports Research Lab, assembled 20 runners on a grassy field and filmed them running barefoot.

    When he zoomed in, he was startled by what he found. Instead of each foot clomping down as it would in a shoe, it behaved like an animal with a mind of its own - stretching, grasping, seeking the ground with splayed toes, gliding in for a landing like a lake-bound swan.

    'It's beautiful to watch,' Pisciotta later told me. 'That made us start thinking that when you put a shoe on, it starts to take over some of the control.'

    Pisciotta immediately deployed his team to gather film of every existing barefoot culture they could find.

    'We found pockets of people all over the globe who are still running barefoot, and what you find is that, during propulsion and landing, they have far more range of motion in the foot and engage more of the toe. Their feet flex, spread, splay and grip the surface, meaning you have less pronation and more distribution of pressure.'

    Nike's response was to find a way to make money off a naked foot. It took two years of work before Pisciotta was ready to unveil his masterpiece. It was presented in TV ads that showed Kenyan runners padding
    along a dirt trail, swimmers curling their toes around a starting block, gymnasts, Brazilian capoeira dancers, rock climbers, wrestlers, karate masters and beach soccer players.

    And then comes the grand finale: we cut back to the Kenyans, whose bare feet are now sporting some kind of thin shoe. It's the new Nike Free, a shoe thinner than the old Cortez dreamt up by Bowerman in the Seventies. And its slogan?

    'Run Barefoot.'

    The price of this return to nature?

    A conservative £65. But, unlike the real thing, experts may still advise you to change them every three months.

    Edited extract from 'Born To Run' by Christopher McDougall, £16.99, on sale from April 23

    [b]PAINFUL TRUTH No 1
    THE BEST SHOES AND THE WORST[/b]

    Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones. This was discovered as far back as 1989, according to a study led by Dr Bernard Marti, the leading preventative-medicine specialist at Switzerland's University of Bern.

    Dr Marti's research team analysed 4,358 runners in the Bern Grand Prix, a 9.6-mile road race. All the runners filled out an extensive questionnaire that detailed their training habits and footwear for the previous year; as it turned out, 45 per cent had been hurt during that time. But what surprised Dr Marti was the fact that the most common variable among the casualties wasn't training surface, running speed, weekly mileage or 'competitive training motivation'.

    It wasn't even body weight or a history of previous injury. It was the price of the shoe. Runners in shoes that cost more than $95 were more than twice as likely to get hurt as runners in shoes that cost less than $40.

    Follow-up studies found similar results, like the 1991 report in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise that found that 'wearers of expensive running shoes that are promoted as having additional features that protect (eg, more cushioning, 'pronation correction') are injured significantly more frequently than runners wearing inexpensive shoes.'

    What a cruel joke: for double the price, you get double the pain. Stanford coach Vin Lananna had already spotted the same phenomenon.'I once ordered highend shoes for the team and within two weeks we had more plantar fasciitis and Achilles problems than I'd ever seen.

    So I sent them back. Ever since then, I've always ordered low-end shoes. It's not because I'm cheap. It's because I'm in the business of making athletes run fast and stay healthy.'

    [b]PAINFUL TRUTH No 2
    FEET LIKE A GOOD BEATING[/b]

    Despite pillowy-sounding names such as 'MegaBounce', all that cushioning does nothing to reduce impact. Logically, that should be obvious - the impact on your legs from running can be up to 12 times your weight, so it's preposterous to believe a half-inch of rubber is going to make a difference.

    When it comes to sensing the softest caress or tiniest grain of sand, your toes are as finely wired as your lips and fingertips. It's these nerve endings that tell your foot how to react to the changing ground beneath, not a strip of rubber.

    To help prove this point, Dr Steven Robbins and Dr Edward Waked of McGill University, Montreal, performed a series of lengthy tests on gymnasts. They found that the thicker the landing mat, the harder the gymnasts landed. Instinctively, the gymnasts were searching for stability. When they sensed a soft surface underfoot, they slapped down hard to ensure balance. Runners do the same thing. When you run in cushioned shoes, your feet are pushing through the soles in search of a hard, stable platform.

    'Currently available sports shoes are too soft and thick, and should be redesigned if they are to protect humans performing sports,' the researchers concluded.

    To add weight to their argument, the acute-injury rehabilitation specialist David Smyntek carried out an experiment of his own. He had grown wary that the people telling him to trade in his favourite shoes every 300-500 miles were the same people who sold them to him.

    But how was it, he wondered, that Arthur Newton, for instance, one of the greatest ultrarunners of all time, who broke the record for the 100-mile Bath-London run at the age of 51, never replaced his thin-soled canvaspumps until he'd put at least 4,000 miles on them?

    So Smyntek changed tack. Whenever his shoes got thin, he kept on running. When the outside edge started to go, he swapped the right for the left and kept running. Five miles a day, every day.

    Once he realised he could run comfortably in broken-down, even wrong-footed shoes, he had his answer. If he wasn't using them the way they were designed, maybe that design wasn't such a big deal after all.

    He now only buys cheap trainers.

    [b]PAINFUL TRUTH No 3
    HUMAN BEINGS ARE DESIGNED TO RUN WITHOUT SHOES[/b]

    'Barefoot running has been one of my training philosophies for years,' says Gerard Hartmann, the Irish physical therapist who treats all the world's finest distance runners, including Paula Radcliffe.

    For decades, Dr Hartmann has been watching the explosion of ever more structured running shoes with dismay. 'Pronation has become this very bad word, but it's just the natural movement of the foot,' he says. 'The foot is supposed to pronate.'
    To see pronation in action, kick off your shoes and run down the driveway. On a hard surface, your feet will automatically shift to selfdefence mode: you'll find yourself landing on the outside edge of your foot, then gently rolling from little toe over to big until your foot is flat. That's pronation - a mild, shockabsorbing twist that allows your arch to compress.

    Your foot's centrepiece is the arch, the greatest weight-bearing design ever created. The beauty of any arch is the way it gets stronger under stress; the harder you push down, the tighter its parts mesh. Push up from underneath and you weaken the whole structure.

    'Putting your feet in shoes is similar to putting them in a plaster cast,' says Dr Hartmann. 'If I put your leg in plaster, we'll find 40 to 60 per cent atrophy of the musculature within six weeks. Something similar happens to your feet when they're encased in shoes.'

    When shoes are doing the work, tendons stiffen and muscles shrivel. Work them out and they'll arc up. 'I've worked with the best Kenyan runners,' says Hartmann, 'and they all have marvellous elasticity in their feet. That comes from never running in shoes until you're 17.'

    [b]SO SHOULD WE ALL BE RUNNING BAREFOOT?
    BY JUSTIN COULTER, SPORTS PODIATRIST [/b]

    Running barefoot may have some benefit in muscle strengthening as the muscles have to 'tune in' to the vibrations caused by impact loading.

    If, like Zola Budd, you grew up running barefoot on a South African farm, your tissue tolerance would adapt over time. But for someone who has grown up wearing shoes and is a natural heel striker (see right), the impact loading will be beyond tissue tolerance level, and injury will occur.

    We are all individuals, therefore it is prudent to have your own running technique assessed and work around that.

    As for getting out your old worn out trainers and running in them - don't! Based on the individual's size and running surfaces/conditions shoes should be changed between 500-1,000 miles. It's best to seek the advice of a specialist running store.

    Read more: [url="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-1170253/The-painful-truth-trainers-Are-expensive-running-shoes-waste-money.html#ixzz0NgOFUVQP"]http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive ... z0NgOFUVQP[/url]
    [/quote]



  • Barefoot running has become a bit of a movement. Some swear by it, saying that it is far more natural and better for the body. Here's an interesting concept: running shoes that are as close to running barefoot as possible, while still providing protection for the feet. I want to try these out:

    [url="http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/"]http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/[/url]



  • I remember growing up in Nelson and summer holidays spent going on missions down to the creek with all my scallywag mates. We all went barefoot and as such our feet were tough as old boots. We'd all run there and back and think nothing of the odd splinter or occasional piece of glass. Those were the days ! Now I've got nancy boy city feet that wouldn't handle this...not to mention heaps more weight behind each step....

    Going for the odd dash around in barefeet certainly feels more "free and easy" but shoes sure do protect the soles and cushion the impact.



  • I plan to try the barefoot approach using the recently introduced five fingers shoes. I'm very intrigued by this idea.



  • The book Born to Run is worth reading.

    The shoes do look pretty awesome. I'd only run short distances to start with though as your feet might take a little while to get used to them. Might be a good idea to do some barefoot running at the local park first to see if your feet are up to it.



  • I have mixed feelings about this article and the whole school of thought around this. I definitely think that just because your running shoes cost $300 it doesn't mean to say that they will be this magic remedy for your feet and make you a better runner. I used to buy the new Asics Kayano every year when the new model came out. Last year, I changed to the Nike Triax Structure and at half the price it is as good a shoe as the coveted Kayano. However, there is bound to be people out there who have switched from a cheaper shoe to the Kayano and think the exact opposite. Every foot is different. I think a huge problem out there is that many many people actually have the wrong type of shoe for their foot in the first place.

    As for the barefoot theory, they mentioned the Nike 'Free' shoe. When it first came out (around 2004/05) I was in the Nike store in Canberra and the assistant (a very good marathon runner himself) explained to me the theory behind it and stressed that it was not a running shoe replacement but a 'supplement'. He said that it should only be used a couple of times a week and only for runs of about 2 to 4km and then slowly building up from that. He reckoned that it would mimic the barefoot running technique and strengthen the foot just as they mention in the article. But it was definitely not a replacement for my normal running shoes. He said it would take a while to get used to them and I would be quite sore if I used them too much (I didn't buy them).

    Finally, if barefoot running (or using extremely flat/old style shoes) is so good for us then why don't the professional runners all train in their racing flats 100% of the time?

    I will be keeping my moderately priced running shoes for now thanks.



  • barefoot or jandals is the way to go xzxcool

    Asics are making a killing at the moment with the notion that their technology cuts out half the problems. Never wore them, but am like a foreign entity at the gym with what seems like everyone is wearing. I don't go on long runs so all the running shoe technology isn't a huge priority.



  • [quote name='Chubbs Peterson']I have mixed feelings about this article and the whole school of thought around this. I definitely think that just because your running shoes cost $300 it doesn't mean to say that they will be this magic remedy for your feet and make you a better runner. I used to buy the new Asics Kayano every year when the new model came out. Last year, I changed to the Nike Triax Structure and at half the price it is as good a shoe as the coveted Kayano. However, there is bound to be people out there who have switched from a cheaper shoe to the Kayano and think the exact opposite. Every foot is different. I think a huge problem out there is that many many people actually have the wrong type of shoe for their foot in the first place.

    As for the barefoot theory, they mentioned the Nike 'Free' shoe. When it first came out (around 2004/05) I was in the Nike store in Canberra and the assistant (a very good marathon runner himself) explained to me the theory behind it and stressed that it was not a running shoe replacement but a 'supplement'. He said that it should only be used a couple of times a week and only for runs of about 2 to 4km and then slowly building up from that. He reckoned that it would mimic the barefoot running technique and strengthen the foot just as they mention in the article. But it was definitely not a replacement for my normal running shoes. He said it would take a while to get used to them and I would be quite sore if I used them too much (I didn't buy them).

    Finally, if barefoot running (or using extremely flat/old style shoes) is so good for us then why don't the professional runners all train in their racing flats 100% of the time?

    I will be keeping my moderately priced running shoes for now thanks.[/quote]

    Sounds logical Chubbs, I bow to your superior knowledge, One of the problems I have with the article is that I (and I presume others) do most of our running walking on hard concrete paths and roads. That pounding on bare feet is going eventually hurt so your bit about breaking them in and limiting there use sounds reasonable. My dad always pointed out that horses that spent a lot of time on roads used to wear their shoes out quicker and their shoes are made of metal.

    My own problems started when I replaced my broken down old runners with some new fancy more expensive ones. But the feet pain I'm having doesn't incline me into drastically altering my current footwear. I replaced those new fancy ones with another pair of even more expensive new fancy ones sold to me funny enough by a Canberra shoe salesman who also does marathons. Bare feet is not the answer for me at the mo, I need to get over my current problems first wich I’ll admit the new new shoes are helping (along with a knee support, anti-inflammatories and pain killers before I start the run.)

    Well I'm off to do a 15 km run today although I somehow doubt I'll run the whole 15. xzxhang1



  • there was an article in the sunday star times about this as well... Dr Pain is my mate and I could see it working for him cause he's about 60kgs dripping wet.. but to someone like me i'm pretty keen to have that inch of protection - especially with my dodgy knee!

    [quote]Baring your sole
    By Steve Kilgallon - Sunday Star Times Last updated 05:00 19/07/2009SharePrint Text Size
    OPINION: Thirty years ago, the modern running shoe was invented. Since then, running-related injuries have risen. And so a growing movement of runners are taking to the streets barefoot.

    Perhaps no man has had more positive influence upon running than Arthur Lydiard. Yet you could, perversely, almost blame the Kiwi master-coach for the pernicious rise of the modern, high-technology running shoe even though Lydiard's cadre of world-class runners trained only in canvas plimsolls.

    American Bill Bowerman ran with Lydiard in the early 1970s, and returned home inspired to experiment with his wife's waffle iron to create the first Nike running shoe. Lydiard was aghast; he thought such footwear would cause injuries and poor technique. And as with so many other things, Lydiard, it appears, was ahead of his time.

    Since 2002, the 30th anniversary of the first Nike, and driven by statistics showing an alarming rise in running-related foot, ankle and knee injuries, a fringe community of runners have been rejecting shoes altogether and going barefoot.

    Now it threatens to go mainstream, and the mad movement's reluctant prophet is a very sane running writer, Chris MacDougall, whose story of conversion to barefoot theology makes inspiring reading. His manifesto appears in his new book, Born to Run, in which he writes: "Blaming the running injury epidemic on big, bad Nike seems too easy but that's OK, because there's a lot to throw at them". He says the book sits 13th on the US bestseller lists.

    SIX MONTHS ago, sick of constant muscle soreness in my hips and adductors which stopped me running the big miles I wanted to, I began visiting a sports biomechanist called (ironically) Greg Pain.

    Pain, who runs Auckland clinic BioSport, is a running heretic. He thinks 98% of people run wrongly and blames a Western culture which encourages us to take cars, buses and trains and sit at desks when we should be running and walking. He believes it causes us to become unbalanced, with overdeveloped thighs and hips which take on too much work and eventually lead to injury.

    He reconstructed my unique running style, which resembled an old lady chasing a bus while carrying four bags of shopping. Now I run straight-backed, with shorter strides, tensing my core muscles, `firing' my gluteals (bum muscles) and hamstrings to flick my heels behind me to get more kick. I'm faster, more efficient and injury-free.

    A lot of what Pain and MacDougall say seems to fit. I threw Born to Run to Pain a fortnight ago. It was his Archimedes in the bathtub moment. "It's a great book," he says. "It challenges the way we wear shoes the way we do; even more so, it challenges our lifestyle." Ten days later, we went barefoot running.

    Ad Feedback As we trot through central Auckland, Greg spots two blokes looking at us as "if we were idiots". We pass a woman who gives me the disgusted glance you might cast at someone who allows their dog to foul the pavement and doesn't pick it up. We may be New Zealand's early-adopters: I suspect there aren't many other blokes running around the city without shoes.

    But they all laughed when Christopher Columbus said the world was round. This may be the future. It certainly seems to work. It's amazing how your stride immediately, unconsciously, changes when you run barefoot. It becomes shorter, choppier and lighter: something Pain preaches because it cuts the stress on your feet.

    In shoes, you almost always land on your heel, where the manufacturers place the most padding. Barefoot, you land on the natural cushion of your mid-foot. It's not painful, but you do feel every footfall, and not every surface is created equal: I found the dark asphalt of the road itself the best. In the interests of science, we burst across a muddy park. It's very tactile: like squeezing jelly between your fingers. I like it. So does Greg.

    On the phone from the US, MacDougall explains. "The foot is the greatest disciplinarian. You can't over-pronate, can't over-train, can't over-stride ... if you do anything wrong, the foot will tell you `uh uh, don't do that'. Shoes are like morphine: a sedative that deadens the pain."

    Because the foot tells you how to run, MacDougall says anyone can make the transition within three weeks. He offers a few tips, then adds: "I still feel definitely the student here, not the master; very grudgingly I will give people a couple of pointers. I didn't feel qualified to at first, but I found it is so easy, there is little to teach."

    The science behind MacDougall's claims is impressive, led by a Newcastle University (Australia) study which found no evidence-based research to show high-tech running shoes are in any way beneficial.

    MacDougall's thesis boils down to this: the best shoes are the worst (one report suggested you are 123% more likely to sustain injury in more expensive shoes, because they offer too much support); feet like impact (and "it's preposterous to think that half an inch of rubber is going to make a difference" when 12 times your bodyweight pounds through them); and finally, that humans are designed to run shoeless, and shoes weaken you. He cites one doctor who describes them having the same wasting effect as plaster casts.

    Pain says the common ankle, back and knee problems his clients arrive with support these theories and says the shoeless science makes "perfect sense", although he'd only use barefoot running as a measured part of training.

    Born to Run isn't just an anti-Nike manifesto. It's also a fantastic tale of a reclusive tribe of Mexican Indians, the Tarahumara, who embark on two-day trail-race adventures wearing home-made leather sandals. It's the story of how MacDougall and a group of crack ultra-runners tracked them down to engage in an epic desert ultra-race. It's how the experience changed them all, and how MacDougall learned from them exactly how to run. The Tarahumura, incidentally, are aware of their subsequent impact on the running community, but, says MacDougall, don't care. "It's irrelevant to them; like talking about Hollywood to the Amish."

    The most extreme of the book's ultra-runners is `Barefoot' Ted MacDonald. By email, he says he doesn't think the movement will threaten the shoe giants. "Threaten, no. Allow 1000 blossoms to bloom, yes. I am not dogmatically barefoot, even though I think it is the best. I have no problem endorsing companies making minimal shoes and not telling me I'm broken by design."

    MacDougall, meanwhile, who ironically only began barefooting after the epic race (pushed into it by a broken toe) is now a devotee. Has it made him a better runner?

    "I see it differently than I would've a few years ago. If I could do a 3:59:59, instead of a four-hour, marathon, that was better. Now I couldn't give a shit about that 1sec. Better to me means I don't ever get hurt, I enjoy it, and I never dread it."[/quote]



  • I saw that MacDougall on the Daily Show, he looks like a big guy. That book would be more interesting to read about the Tarahumura, their races sound incredible.



  • Read the book a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it. It gets a bit 'spiritual' sometimes which I'm not really in to but most of it is really interesting. It's made want to give barefoot running a go over summer.



  • Great book. Read it 6-months back. I run 2-3 marathons a year and have had the usual list of injuries that old open side flankers get. Knees, ankles, achilles. Recently I have ben doing my 5-mile recovery runs in VFFs. I have had no injury niggles since. They are very freaky looking. I get tonnes of comments on them whenever I wear them. In Japan they are trendy. In HK could not buy them so ordered them online. First saw them when I ran the San Fran marathon earlier this year.



  • Wanted to chime in on this subject was going to start a new thread but checked first and see you guys covered this a few years back.

    I am a decent runner don't belong to a club or anything prefer to do my own thing, my PB for the marathon is 3:09 and this year I plan to break 3 hours, the misses bought me the born to run book for xmas and I got through it in 2 days. Its been a revelation for me.

    Some background, I was a prop at 106kg 4 years ago, I busted the fat using a purely scientific approach to inputs and outputs, you can check on the forum, got down to 78kg and started taking running a lot more seriously. I should add I still play, normally open side where size is less of an issue or somewhere in the backs if they are short.

    So anyway I have spent the first 3 months of the year re-constructing my running stride, why? I never had any serious injuries from running (plenty from rugby) the worst was some knee ligament strains that went away with physio. It was mostly because I had doubts I would be able to reach my goals. You see I need to gun under 7 minutes a mile consistently for a 3 hour marathon. In doing the 3:09 I was as close as I have ever run to complete and utter shutdown and that was like a 7:16 average. It took me 30 mins after the run to be able to stand and 3 hours before I could manage any food. The Misses said it was like I was drunker then she has ever seen me, and that's saying something.

    So the first 3 months of the new regime started badly I went on the Internet got some information on moving from being a heel striker to a forefoot runner. Then tried to apply it, pulled both my calf muscles, so I reduced the distance still pulling calf muscles, after a mile or so, slowly I ran through the pain and built up to almost 2 miles but it was not getting easier. I then went back to the Internet (is there anything it can't do?) and read anything I could get my hands on about forefoot landing, turns out its a misnomer, should be called mid foot landing, and in my efforts to re-learn, I had refused to touch my heals down at all, which was another huge mistake. I abandoned my trainers Mizuno pro-grids for those that are interested in such things, and picked up some Merrell bare foots. Stuck at it then one day on an early morning run it clicked into place, I leant my hips forward let my feet fall slightly behind me and let my heels touch the ground if they wanted the quicker cadence just fell into place.

    One month later and I am nearly where I was before I started this experiment running consistent 7:30's miles in training. But the weird thing is the recovery is different, I feel like I could run that every day of the week if I had the time, I have pushed a bit to see where the speed boundaries are and ran a 22 minute 5k. I doubt I have the style perfect yet I do look kind of like a pony with my weird foot lift and have not quite managed to figure out how to not go down hill without looking like I am completely out of control. But its getting there.

    Will keep you all updated on the progress but have already decided this is the way forward for me and will stick with it.

    ohh and the full list of goals for this year.

    5k beat the PB 19:02
    10K run under 40 minutes
    half marathon go under 1:26
    Marathon under 3 hours
    Ultra finish one any I don't even care about the time, am thinking of doing a 50 miler to start.

    Interested to hear others thoughts on this

    Mooshld



  • Wow!!! That is an amazing read (in terms of the changes) I still can't imagine the foot strike on the groung as you describe it.

    Definitely keep us up to date.

    I'm really enjoying my running at the moment but won't bore you or embarrass myself with the details



  • way cool. is there any way you can maybe video your run and then watch a video on the internet and see if you are doing it right on the money?



  • my only comment on this is when I use my Saloman trail running shoes, I get a sore knee (front of the knee cap), but when I use my Teva hiking sandals, there is no problem, principally I suspect because the sandals let the foot move naturally like being barefoot.

    So, don't run barefoot, get a pair of these: [IMG]http://www.shoes.com/ProductImages/shoes_iaec1195566.jpg[/IMG]



  • Thanks for the encouragement guys,

    The truth of it is that you could video your stride and compare it but in actuality it would not tell you much and you would need some pretty heavy duty equipment to get down to the bones of it. The problem is that a foot strike takes place in a very small amount of time. So you would need some high speed cameras to accurately detail what is happening. Also as I said I have had a few injuries through rugby which may mean that I never strike exactly like any one else. The one that effects me the most is that I broke my right leg, but at the same time I dislocated my ankle and tore a ligament. The final thing of course is everyone is a little bit different look at Paula Radcliffe. Her upper body is all over the place you would never encourage someone to learn that. But it works for her. So there is no guarantee what you are looking at is any better then what you are doing. There are coaches but they cost a bomb and I think its probably only justifiable if you are having serious injury issues.

    I think the trick to figuring out if you're landing properly is two fold, first listening to your body if your heels are pinging you are landing too hard on them, if its your calves you are too far forward. The thin shoes help as sub consciously your body protects itself making micro adjustments that occur faster then you can make them consciously. It has become a mental effort to run in my old style and its painful in these shoes, they actually come with a warning on the box saying you will hurt yourself if you try that, or words to that effect. Secondly its the cadence if you had asked me before to run at 180 strides a minute I would have called you nuts, but the only way to do that is taking loads of these short quick steps, its not effortless yet, but hopefully soon I will be able to sit at that cadence.

    The relationship between cause and effect here is the really interesting thing take Kea's example. It could well be that his trail shoes are causing his knee pain, it could also be that when he runs in them they allow him to be less concerned about his form so he puts more stress on his knees. Now the sandals may actually let his foot move differently or they may not but they may also offer less protection and cause him to be more cautious with his form. Without getting thousands of people together and doing huge scientific trials its impossible to say with any statistical certainty. But then again who cares right if it works for you then do it, if those sandals allow you to run with out pain then I would use nothing else.

    One final observation, In my old style my feet were constantly calloused. Huge ones on my toes and the balls of my feet not a problem at all I always figured it was a natural thing. Whether its the new style or the time its taken to adapt I do not know, but they have almost gone completely.

    Ohh and I track my runs on Endomondo so I can post updates if people are interested, maybe I will bring back my fatbusting log and change it into a 3 hour marathon log. Have been lurking on the site for a few years now but maybe its time for a comeback.

    Mooshld

    P.s. Hooroo any race you finish is one you should not be embarrassed about I ran my first half marathon at 106kg took me 2:20 at the time I was gutted but looking back it was probably one of my best efforts ever. I very much doubt I could beat that with 30kg in a back pack.



  • "Minimalist" training shoes are becoming a lot more popular here in the States. I haven't tried them yet and I'm a bit hesitant due to the fact that I'm built more like a prop than a runner--worried about the impact to my knees with zero padding. But the concept is definitely interesting. I'm always toying with the idea of giving it a try to see how it feels.

    Here's a website with a whole range of different minimalist type running shoes:

    [url]http://minimalistrunningshoes.org/[/url]



  • [quote name='davidav']"Minimalist" training shoes are becoming a lot more popular here in the States. I haven't tried them yet and I'm a bit hesitant due to the fact that I'm built more like a prop than a runner--worried about the impact to my knees with zero padding. But the concept is definitely interesting. I'm always toying with the idea of giving it a try to see how it feels.

    Here's a website with a whole range of different minimalist type running shoes:

    [url]http://minimalistrunningshoes.org/[/url][/QUOTE]

    Save yourself the cash davidav and teach yourself the style by running barefoot first, if you like it and it suits you then get the shoes. If you buy the shoes and try and run in a heal toe fashion, you will get injured and you will have just blown the cash.

    Mooshld.



  • [quote name='mooshld']Save yourself the cash davidav and teach yourself the style by running barefoot first, if you like it and it suits you then get the shoes. If you buy the shoes and try and run in a heal toe fashion, you will get injured and you will have just blown the cash.

    Mooshld.[/QUOTE]

    That is a sensible suggestion, but the idea of running totally barefoot on roads frightens me. Stepping on pebbles, glass and such.