If you’re a runner and have read anything even remotely running related, you’ve likely heard of the rage that is minimalist running and its partner in crime, barefoot running. Before I go further, let me say that there’s something strangely fascinating for me about running barefoot. Perhaps it’s that it reminds me of a soul surfer type mentality — a state of mind that rejects the strict and conventional and embraces a mindset of the casual and the free. It brings about feelings of being in the moment and living without boundaries and deadlines as opposed to being subjected to and living within the fences that politics, business and others attempt to constrain us with. Nice idea. But, the problem is: I think the “running naturally” premise sucks. And, to support my option I had an experience the other day that convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m right.
Before I reveal the exact source of my new-found wisdom though, allow me to run my mouth off a for a bit longer.
My disagreements with the barefoot craze are many. Probably the quickest to mention however, is that there are a rather large number of experienced and capable running shoe sales persons who will give testimony after testimony of runners who, through the use cushioned and motion control shoes, have become runners. And, by the way, I count myself as one of those success stories. I had tried shoe after shoe for years until I was properly fitted with a set of over the counter orthotics by a local running only store sales guy. And, even as early as the first few miles using them, it became painfully obvious, or lack of painfully obvious, that these things were what I needed in order to realize my goal of becoming a runner again. And, while barefoot promoters would likely say that I need to learn how to run more naturally or that my shoe purchases are doing little but giving money to evil corporations that probably kick puppies at every chance, I say this: “Did you know that a human head weighs 8 pounds?”
Ed Ayers, on his blog Endurance and Sustainablilty, wrote an article about Chris McDougall and his book Born to Run. If you’ve never read Ed’s blog, he’s an incredibly talented writer and has a wealth of experience from which to draw when it comes to writing about running. In his most recent blog, he discusses some common sense problems with barefoot and minimalist running with a far greater degree of articulation that I could ever write so check it out! But enough about Ed, back to me and what convinced me that my views on barefoot running are, without a doubt, 100% correct.
They say (and who is this “they” anyway? If anyone knows, let “they” know that they’re wrong about the old dog-new trick thing) that I picture is worth a thousand words. See below: