Comment from: Brandon [Visitor]

I have to imagine it goes something like this:

1. Person gets into running wearing standard shoes (Nike's, Asics, etc.)
2. Person gets more serious about running and starts thinking of distance running (marathon/ultra.)
3. Person reads Ultra Marathon Man (great book by the way...even for a barefoot/minimalist runner!)
4. Person starts seeing more (and different) injuries due to the longer distances and pushing themselves harder...and not having the mutant super-body that Karnazes has.
5. Person starts researching ways to minimize injuries so they can continue to run distances.
6. Person reads Born to Run and learns about Vibram Five Fingers or barefoot running and gives it a try, using Barefoot Ted's run of Leadville 100 in VFF Treks as additional inspiration.

Now you have someone much like myself, who has been running in Vibram Five Fingers and barefoot lately, but who aspires to run a marathon in them (or even ultra-marathon down the road.)

02/19/10 @ 11:25
Comment from: J.P. Hamilton [Visitor]
J.P. Hamilton

Well, the first thing I thought was that all those people wearing Asics and Mizuno over Brooks don't know shoes at all :) But on a serious note...

Learning about ChiRunning (Evolution pretty much same thing) was the start of me being able to run serious, injury-free mileage. Through Sept-Dec. of last year I was averaging 55+ miles a week (at roughly 45/week this year) in my Brooks. Then I started getting into trail running...that's where the VFF's come in.

On the trails, getting instant feedback from my feet has been life saving. You just have to experience it to see how amazing it is. On just about every run there is a "oops that would have been a twisted ankle in shoes" type moment. I run about three 1/2 marathons on trails a week, plus some smaller runs. I am really experiencing first hand how my legs and feet are getting stronger and how the injuries just aren't happening. I have no plans to switch back to regular shoes. And I am surprised Vibram's only make up 6%.

02/19/10 @ 12:05
Comment from: Matt [Visitor]

I saw his survey but neglected to participate. Maybe I could have bumped up the barefoot running percentage up to 0.5%.

I think ultrarunners tend to be a little more experimental that average runners and more open to look for ways to runner longer and more injury free.

Ultra runner, Anton Krupicka, wrote a great piece on barefoot/minimalist running on his site a while back.

02/19/10 @ 12:30
Comment from: Zeke [Visitor]  

The idea of an ultramarathon is "outside the box" for most people, and requires a shift in worldview about what we are capable of for most people to accept.

Surveying a self-selected population of people who have already accepted one such shift in understanding of our abilities, I'm not surprised to see other common-world-view-shattering understandings like this ranking higher than average as well.

I think it's also significant that both are messages of best selling running books in recent years, and this is a population that is obviously getting and incorporating information from these types of sources.

I actually *don't* think that it's about sensation of heel strike at long distance and feeling the need to change to footwear that promotes a natural stride. For most people modern running shoes are like candy for your feet, providing an illusion of reduced impact by altering the sensation but not reality of those forces. And that ultramarathon shuffle is probably relatively low impact itself.

While I've seen great discussion about the topic among ultrarunners, I've also seen more people digging their heels in (no pun intended) against barefoot/minimalist running in that group than I've seen anywhere else. This statistic doesn't give a feeling for where the mean is in the group, just that what is a distinct outlier in other groups showed up in significant numbers here.


02/19/10 @ 12:56
Comment from: [Member]

Z (Leif!),

Thank you for your perspective on this issue -- insightful given your experience with regard to ultramarathons.

You bring up an interesting aspect of this debate that I'm reserving for a totally separate post (if I get around to writing it!), which is that there is a massive selection bias already in play in the running community and it has a huge bearing on this "debate."

The selection bias I'm referring to here is that many adult would-be runners slap on their shoes and immediately experience running discomfort. They stick to it for a bit (assuming they just are out of shape or need to push through). The discomfort persists. It leads to inflamed knees and joints. At some point, would-be runner just throws in the towel, "Running is not for me." Worse, "I hate running."

I know these people exist because that was me. What I'm getting at is that this debate about barefoot running or natural running is occurring within a community of runners who necessarily didn't give up and/or had form that was decent enough to enable them to run without major discomfort (at least up to a point). The debate completely ignores all the disillusioned would-be runners who never knew that there was a difference between forefoot and heel striking.

The selection bias is clearly at play within the running community -- and it favors a heel-striking running form. To my knowledge, no one is talking about this.

02/19/10 @ 13:06
Comment from: Zeke [Visitor]  

I would be interested in seeing what you have to say on that topic of self-selection and the would-be-runners who self-select out of the activity due to the pain caused by shoes.

My discussion of this topic has gone something like this. Many claim that there is great diversity in running form, and that people should choose footwear accordingly. This rings hollow to me, given the high specialized trait that bipedal locomotion is in our species. It appears that the vast majority run naturally with a forefoot strike when their gait isn't interfered with. However, what DOES appear to be highly variable is how well we can accommodate being pushed out of that natural running stride as modern running shoes do for most runners.

I'll leave any more than that to discussion on your eventual post on the topic :) It's one that I've given quite a bit of thought to myself.


02/19/10 @ 14:22
Comment from: Joggling Joe [Visitor]
Joggling Joe

Great post, Justin. And wonderful discussion points by everyone. Plenty of good ideas and arguments mentioned that shed light on these important running issues. Looking forward to some future posts about running/minimalist footwear.

02/19/10 @ 19:04

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