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.




Jen said...

Eeeekkk! Can I just say how excited I am about this! I went back and forth between my Asics 2140's without my orthotics and some Asics lightweight trainers. When I was completely in the trainers that's when I made the switch. It took about 4 months for that transition alone. And even though I'm not completely pain free again, I still think it's the right way to go!
I dont' know how the Canadians go barefoot as much as they do. It just seems like it would be too cold until June or so. Am I wrong? Of course you guys are a tougher bunch than me!

Unknown said...

Thanks Jen. I clipped the video from your site. Thanks so much for posting. You're a real inspiration. Mike

Unknown said...

Ok, I am very excited about this too. Barefoot running is not for everyone, but I am a firm believer that our feet were designed to run, and no additional support or pillow cushioning is required. I focus my running with my barefeet, but I have no problem putting on a pair of Vibrams or Zem's if they are required due to terrain, etc.

Utilizing all the different models of supportive running shoes, has weakened one of the strongest parts of the human body in my opinion. I am happy that you are trying the transistion back to natural running, but my biggest piece of advise to you, is go slow, you will be using and developing muscles that you haven't used in a long time, so listen to your body. When your feet and body say you have had enough for now, listen because the majority of injuries that happen to minimalistic runners because they do to much to soon. It is a slow building process.

Good luck and have fun. I will be keeping tabs.

Winnipeg Barefoot Runners

Unknown said...

Thanks Bob. Good advice. I'll be following your running pursuits as well. M

Connie said...

This is very exciting! I can't wait to hear how it goes. How's the ankle these days? Are you running again?

Unknown said...

Yes Connie, I'm running. Did the MB half. Not a stellar time, but I'm pleased. Hope to see you out and about really soon. M