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

Friday, December 30, 2011


In a brilliant post by Harry (HHH) on the Minimalist Runner forum titled "Spirit and Soul vs Conventional Wisdom", he wrote (in part):

The next day I had a sore right hip and I've never had a sore hip (not to
mention I could feel the weight difference of the Evo vs. Nike's), so I
switched back to the Nike XC's and the hip pain immediately disappeared so
conventional wisdom would say keep running in your Nike's. Well, I woke up
the next morning and my soul demanded again to be closer to the earth with
a better feeling of the ground, even with all the snow and ice outside, so
I went back to the Evo's and had a very enjoyable run and my hip pain was
all but gone.

So, obviously, I was intrigued by the source of my hip pain and I had a
friend count my stride rate while barefoot vs. Luna's and Evo's vs. Nike
XC's and as expected there was what I consider a material deviation in my
stride rate when comparing the Nike's vs. Luna's and Evo's. In the Luna's
and Evo's my stride rate (per minute at a 8:30 pace) was 184 while it was
176 in Nike's. Then my friend said I ran taller (straight) while in
Luna's/Evo's vs. Nike's where I had more of a forward lean. Lastly, we
measured my stride and it was longer in the Nike's. So much of this is as
expected but it does cause one to ponder.

First, it further validates the impact of different footwear and each
deviation from barefoot has consequences. Now, for me the consequences
don't translate to injury but nevertheless there's differences. Second, I
started to think about potential longer term impacts. If I engage my hips
when I'm closer to a barefoot state then I'm not engaging them as much in
traditional racing shoes like the Nike XC's and that requires a deeper
evaluation than just the injury issue (as people get older you often hear
about hip problems and as such, am I weakening my hips by not engaging them
enough thus leading to possible future problems . . . in other words,
perhaps the focus should be on keeping the body as engaged as possible as
we get older which may result in a stronger overall body . . . this is
about health not racing). Third, and I personally believe this has
something to do with the Blackfoot Indian blood running through my veins as
the feeling was spiritual and powerful, why did my body demand to be closer
to barefoot when I was already running fast and injury free in the Nike's?
It was a powerful desire by my body and such that I couldn't ignore it
which drove me back to the Evo's and Luna's.

I find myself in a very interesting situation. I run without issue in my
Nike's (and it's fun running) but obviously something powerful is missing
if at this point in my running life my body yearns to be closer to the
ground (this has happened before and each time the feeling comes back more
powerful, then goes away, but eventually comes back even more powerful than

The thread devolved into a discussion of adapting to running barefoot in snow (brr...), which I think moved away from a very important point (which I tried to make in the thread, but the discussion was already digressing).

Have you ever craved some food, but had no idea why? Usually it's because there's something your body needs. Ice cream and cheese? Your body likely wants calcium. A thick steak? Maybe protein.

The thing is, our bodies are smarter, on an intuitive level, than our brains. Conventional wisdom says don't change what's working. But if we get our brains, our conventional wisdom, out of the way, what do our bodies say we need? For Harry, it was a more natural state. Closer to the ground.

And maybe this goes back towards what I wrote a
little while back about listening to that primal voice deep inside us.

Maybe that voice knows a lot more about us than we 'know" about ourselves. Like what we really need.

I know I've felt this tug myself. Moving toward more offroad running. A more natural state.

Even my bicycling has been mainly offroad, though it's more a matter of convenience than design. And even though I'm adding some gearing to my previously single-speed mountain bike (old parts cobbled together plus an OLD tech shifter).

So there's maybe something deeper that drives all of this. What got us to running in the first place? What has guided you on the journey to where you are now?

Harry's response to my point about cravings was this:

Very good point. As I think about this, perhaps one is not ready for
a certain journey until they are physically and mentally ready for
it. It may be that it took me all these years to figure out how to
run injury free and shoes played a key role in achieving that goal but
now it's moved into the spiritual world.

What does your spirit crave?


- said...

David, thanks for taking my post and expanding on it. I think this is an intriguing topic. I'm still in the midst of dealing with this. My spirit and soul say one thing and my brain says another and this morning was a perfect example.

I did one of my regular tempo runs, 25 min. at 5k "effort" level (different from race pace). In Nike's I would usually hit a 6:15 pace and in my Evo's this morning it was a 6:30 pace. I know the reason which is I can push off more in the Nike's making it easier to run the faster pace. My brain says that works, however, my body and spirit prefers the feel of ground even at the cost of :15 sec. per mile. Now, interesting enough, when I race, my 5k PR (17:42) was set in Evo's and I've never been able to match it in Nike's, however, I run faster training paces in my Nike's.

So, my brain says continue with the Nike's but my body says otherwise. My body gives me what I need when I race but otherwise it wants to run slower during training and that occurs when I'm closer to the ground, feeling the earth. As I put more between my feet and the earth, I run a bit faster in training.

I even wake up in the morning with the desire to feel the earth . . . it's crazy. I also wonder about long term impacts. As a masters runner, if traditional shoes do what my body should be doing, it could have long term impacts as I'm weakening my body versus forcing my body to get stronger in its natural state.

So many interesting things to discuss :)


Ragnor relay said...

Hey, nice blog. I also crave on food especially I'm in the middle on my run, and I don't know why.