I have been doing a lot of running lately, at least as far as my standards go. I am in training for the BAA half marathon here in Boston on October 9th… and things have been going quite well so far. My body feels great while I am running and while I am running only 3-4 times per week, doing a couple of strength training sessions on the off days and stretching every single day, every time I go to run my body is not sore, fatigued or in pain. When I am feeling good about running I spend most of my time thinking about my form and paying attention to the feedback that my legs are giving me.
My most recent revelation is in regards to the form associated with a minimalist running shoes. I haven’t been able to muster the courage to go for a legitimate run in my Vibram fiveFinger shoes, but I have been using a pair of the reebok RealFlex shoes and to this point they feel good. My current thoughts with the minimalist footwear movement are that the shoes are actually really irrelevant. The bottom line is the form that a runner is using is what will determine the way the body is worked. Minimalistic footwear makes it difficult to run in a heel-first landing stride so the tendency is to land more in a mid-foot stance, but there is nothing to stop a person from running with this form in any footwear. I am learning from my runs that my body feels best when I am running in this way. The joints in my legs aren’t having to deal with a significant impact force and most of the shock absorption is being done with my leg musculature. The revelation I had while running this past weekend was that the imbalances that people have are much easier for the body to handle when the stress is put on the muscles versus the joints.
I am in the process of evaluating the running form that a runner uses running barefoot, with vibram fiveFingers and with traditional running shoes. When the video is edited we will have a better understanding of the optimal form for running injury free and what role a person’s footwear takes in that situation.