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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

That's TIGHT!

A brief conversation at work this week opened up an idea that I've discovered on my own, and just didn't really think much about it being something in which other people could be interested.

The conversation was with Eric and Josh, and we were talking about shoes, in particular the New Balance Minimus Trail. Josh had found a deal on Botach for the MT10 at $50, but he had never tried minimalistic shoes before. He wanted something thinner for trail running. Eric, after already putting some miles on his Minimus Trails (he said he did a 12 miler in them, mostly on the road, just a couple weeks ago), was speaking with the voice of experience on this particular model. I've got a few miles on my Minimus Roads, and a lot more in general in minimal shoes.

Anyway, Eric mentioned something about lacing up his shoes tight enough, and it made me think of something. I've noticed how, with toe splay being more of an issue for me, I've preferred to leave the lower one or two eyelets loose, tying a knot in the laces to that they only tighten in the upper few eyelets. I did this with my Saucony Kinvaras, my Altra Instincts, my Minimus Roads, and also one of the developemtnal shoes from Skechers. Also, I've noticed that with the more minimal shoes, the more flexible they are, the looser I can tie them without rubbing issues.

Stiff soles make shoes want to stay in the state in which they were manufactured -- flat. And that flatness wants to react with the ground one way -- staying flat.

Heel strikers have great issue here, when the shoe wants to flatten onto the ground immediately on contact, and you want it to stay conformed to your foot. This is why shoe manufacturers put in that extra set of eyelts at the top, so you can cinch the rear part of the shoe and make it stay placed on your foot.

At the other end, toe-off makes your foot want to bend at the ball, but the shoes don't want to bend. In order to keep the midfoot of the shoe from pulling away from your foot, you have to tie the laces tight.

But I've noticed that the more flexible the shoe is, the less tight I need to tie the laces while still retaining that secure feeling. My Merrell Trail Gloves, in fact, I can walk around in with them untied completely and they don't move on my feet at all. I've never tried running in them that way, and I have no plans to do so, but I suggested to Eric that he try tying his shoes just a little bit looser.

Tight can be a good thing.

But not necessarily for shoe laces.

No comments: