Seems we like to do a lot of arguing now a days. For runners, two of the hottest topics of discussion are about our phones and our shoes. When it comes to our shoes, the argument stems from running barefoot. Truth is very few of us actually run “barefoot”. Even the Masaii that I ran with in Kenya wore what they called Michelin’s. They would step onto an old discarded tire, outline their foot, cut out the sole and strap it onto their foot with leather or some other type of fabric. No sense of heel rise or separated toes here, they just wanted to have something between the foot and the cruel hard earth. Not exactly barefoot.
In America we spend hundreds of dollars for the ability to run “barefoot”, and even more to run in cushioned shoes. As usual, selling points cloud the simplicity of the matter. It’s not important if you run barefoot or run with shoes. What’s important is that you run on your forefoot and not your heels. For some that is easier said than done, and they continue to heal strike no matter what the foot wear.
The foot did not morph from the shoe. The shoe was built around testing and science. Engineers believe that heal striker athletes can improve their resistance to injury with a few modifications to the running shoe sole. Those changes came about, I believe, for two reasons: Concrete and asphalt. Before the proliferation of the automobile we all ran in dirt, but when we turned the earth into a sea of concrete and asphalt those two surfaces became our preferred method of foot traffic as well. Let’s get back to that heel strike shoe. It’s difficult for manufacturers to make money unless they sell a lot of what they’re making. Athletes were Sold the idea that the raised heal soft soled shoes were for everyone. That pretext was easy to believe because they were so darn comfortable on the roads, and running in them made us feel as if we were, you guessed it, running in the dirt again. Now, the same manufacturers are at it again and the war has begun.
If you run the roads and you are a heel striker, get some shoes. If you are a mid to forefoot runner get some shoes. Doesn’t matter if you are calling them barefoot, low rise, cushioned sole, whatever. What is important is that you are minimizing your incidence of injury by running in proper footwear. For the sake of sanity, let’s start to argue about some thing that matters, like the color of peoples kit, or which phone they’re not answering because they’re too busy running.