July 6, 2011 § 7 Comments
For a short period of time in my foolish youth I ran track. The mile and the 2-mile but mostly the former…and I may possibly have run the 800 once or twice. I hasten to add, I was no great shakes as a miler. Never did beat the 5 min barrier. The abilty to do so, at the time anyway, was what distinguished a highschool level miler that was worth a hmmmmm from one who was just there to be there. My PR might have been what, 5:07 I think? I was just there to be there. Pretty much the story of my life as a runner. Nary a win at any distance, age grade or class that I can recall.
However, the good part about running track…on a nice perfect surface, trained to run with form, gradually brought up to actually running fast through dedicated drills…is the flying.
Eventually you will have a race or workout, perhaps many or nearly an entire season. Where you are just floating down the track. Nice, even mid-foot strikes in your barely-padded spikes or flats…..and you can’t even feel it. FLYING!
This brings me to these barefoot running nutjobs. I’m pretty convinced that this RunBare goofaloon trueDisciple is PeeWee…so I may be a bit biased. Dave Munger has a post up with some actual science over at his new blog project, Science Based Running so maybe we better review that first. Okay, I really like the fact that this is within subjects and it does appear to show improved efficiency on treadmill and track with bare over shod feet. What I don’t know, since I don’t have access to the paper, is anything about the running style of the subjects.
So here’s my take on barefoot running. I bet it simply makes you run correctly. Better anyway. More forefoot, less heelstrike plodding. I have ranged all over the foot strike map depending on my level of fitness, training and general involvement in the sport. I am full willing to believe that when I am hitting midfoot instead of hammering the heelstrikes that I am more efficient. I bet a LOT more efficient. Because it certainly feels that way when you are doing it.
The other take on this is that modern running shoes let us get away with running like crap. Poor form doesn’t lead to immediate pain or medium-term injury as much as it would with lesser quality shoes. What about the longer term though? Do the shoes let us run with poor form for longer distances, more often or across a longer span of years? And does that permit all kinds of nagging long-term stresses and injuries to add up?
If so, that would account for the alleged decreased injury factor of bare footin’ it as well.