An admitted shoe geek waxes philosophical about running, triathlon, and life in general.
Comments welcome!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A call to sensibility

Some recent posts on other blogs has me a little concerned at the direction that some of the "more minimal" shoe genre products and advocates are taking.

Yesterday's post by Jason Robillard on the Barefoot Running University site was an absolutist stab at running form, telling runners to "stay off your damn heels". That's one loaded headline, and I think undermines his intent. In his post, he fails to make the distinction between overstriding and heel striking, something that has been discussed in depth and often on BeginnerTriathlete. Jason later admits in a follow-up comment that (1) it isn't heel striking by itself that causes injury, and (2) the whole point of the headline and post was to be "impactful", regardless of factual evidence and, I feel, BAD advice.

Jay Dichary has shown in studies that a heel strike in an otherwise non-overstriding running stride yields an impact profile similar to that of a forefoot or midfoot strike. In other words, the detrimental characteristic is where the foot contacts the ground relative to the body, NOT what part of the foot first makes contact with the ground. In Jason's effort to be "impactful", he gave bad advice by telling one to STAY off the heels. Recipe for calf and achilles injuries, that is.

The other issue I saw was Byron Powell's review of the Salomon S-Lab Sense (a misnomer if I've ever seen one) trail shoe. He describes the shoe made for Kilian Jornet by Salomon... 4mm drop, light weight, rock protection, sockless-running build... It all sounds great. In fact, it sounds a lot like many other shoes already on the market. Then the kicker -- $200 projected retail price.

What? $200?!?!? What makes this shoe TWICE as good as anything already on the market? I'm already having a hard time swallowing $100 for shoes that actually are... less. I don't buy the whole "research" costs. I believe that the shoe costs as much as they do simply because people are willing to pay that much. I think Skechers did a very smart thing by slotting their GoRun model at $80, the bottom of the minimalist shoe market range.

So I see these as troubling directions. Giving bad advice in the name of making an impact... sure, that's going to make an impact. One that will be detrimental to the movement. And pricing the footwear in the financial stratosphere isn't going to do anything to lure runners into giving more minimal shoes a try.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I've been following you for a while now and have always enjoyed your posts; this one resonates with me in a particular way. I returned to running this year after some time off. In my quest to not be injured so much I found barefoot/minimal running. It was great at first, but a whole different class of injuries cropped up, sidelining me yet again. I attribute a lot of this to the dogmatic attitude and advice offered within the barefoot community. "shoes are evil, traditional running shoes are worse" is a common theme, and one that encouraged me to keep pushing despite my doubts as the little bit of issue was "surely better than a lifetime of shoe-induced injury."

I'm resting an injury now and will return to running (shod) soon. Working on my stride and form is a better pursuit, I find. Don't even get me started on $200.00 shoes. That's madness.