Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Kicks

Asics GT - 2160

I've been wearing Asics GT - 2160's for about 3 years.  They provide moderate pronation support and I like the fit and the way they feel straight out of the box. I started wearing orthotic inserts in 2009 to help mend a nagging calf problem in my right leg.  The orthotic and the shoe combination seemed to work well and I've had no further calf issues or any other running related repetitive strain injuries so I am reluctant to give up the combination.  I adopted the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy. Good plan, right?

Then I read Christopher McDougal's, Born To Run.

Enter the Barefooters and the general movement towards minimalist running footwear and I'm questioning the whole shoe issue. I have followed Jen's blog, Why I Run for years and have witnessed her transition from typical running kicks to Vibrams and now barefoot.  I've also been following Winnipeg Barefoot Runner's blog and I become more intrigued.  I'm not ready for barefoot, but I am very curious with minimalist running.

I dropped into City Park Runners and had a good consult with owner, Erick Oland.  We talked shoes for about an hour.  (He told me he may not remember faces, but he always remembers the shoes of his customers)  He advised, and I concur, that a slow transition toward minimalism is probably a good way to go.  He pointed out that the heel plate of my Aisics 2160 is about 25 mm thick which makes it pretty well impossible to avoid striking your heal on every step.  The theory behind minimalism is that over time the energy from the repetitive heal strikes from traditional running shoes can cause significant injury.  Gotta a sore neck?  hamstring? calf? knee?  I.T. band?  Could be your shoes.

The minimalist shoe has a much lower profile with a heal plate measuring 10 to 12mm making it easier to land on the ball of your foot which is better able to absorb and dissipate energy.  Think of the imprint of walking on wet sand.  Where is the imprint deepest?  (That's a redundant question.) With traditional shoes it's not possible to avoid heal striking unless you consciously make an effort and even then it feels weird.  Don't believe me; try it on your next run.  Try to land on the balls of your feet.  Either you can't or it feels odd and you'll give up after a few steps.

So, what's my plan?  Step one, ditch the orthotics.  Step two, run in the Aisics for 4 to 6 weeks.  Step three, purchase a pair of minimalist kicks.  Step four, go back and forth beween the Aisics and the minimalist.  Step five, I don't have a step five... but I will by the time step three rolls around.

Not saying I'm a convert.


It's a good day, a really, really good day to be alive.