Thursday, March 7, 2013

I'm Not Going Barefoot

It matters to me not if you run barefoot.

I honestly could not possibly care less. If it works for you to not run in ANY shoe ever again, it affects me in no way, shape or form. Actually, that is incorrect. If it gets you out running pain-free and allows you to enjoy the sport you no longer were able to enjoy because shoes appeared to be the bane of your existence, then it does affect me, because I am now happy you are out running again. But holy mackerel please do not try to convert me.

I have now spent a great deal of time scientifically researching the human body when it comes to how it works while in motion. I have questioned runners of all calibers and speeds. I have friends in the medical field in every discipline (doctors, nurses, massage therapists, etc.) who know way more than me about the mechanics of running and how my muscles work than I could ever hope to. Yet even these friends, who are all very learned and make their living knowing about the human body, can disagree on seemingly the most simple of things.

I do know, very well, what works for me, or at least what has worked in the past and will hopefully work in the future. If whatever I am doing stops working, I will modify what I am doing in hopes of making it feel right again. But if what is working is indeed working, why would I wish to change it?

Often studies are shown to me by the barefoot running aficionados of how shoes have hindered runners and caused injuries. I have said I am extremely sorry for those runners and wish they could run pain-free. But they are not me. I have run 142 marathons, pushing myself in almost every single one of them and have averaged under 3:20 (including time-skewing upward marathons like Leadville and Pikes Peak). Fifty-two of those were done in one year without a hint of injury. Furthermore, I have run all of the nearly 20 million feet of those marathons in running shoes. That doesn’t even count the training, half-marathons, 5Ks, and running to catch airplanes.

Chances are the next million or so feet will be traversed in running shoes as well. I have dabbled in minimalist running shoes and remember the days of super clunky shoes in the 1990s. I have tried the trends and fads as I always wish to be experimenting lest I leave behind something important. But after years of one thing working with unequivocal success, I will stay shod.

So, while I appreciate how much running barefoot has done for you, please remember as the wonderful Dr. George Sheehan said: “We are all an experiment of one.” In other words, we have to find what works for us. No one can run the race for you and only your own legs will propel you forward.

And for the time being, my legs will end in rubberized soles.


Thad Sweet said...

Nice pic with you and Josh Cox. I got to spend a little time with him and his wife in 2010 at the Comrades Marathon as we went with a team of runners from Team World Vision. Love your points in this post; thoughts I've held for a number of years now. I also loved that it was well written, very concise and to the point, and passionate. Well done.

Daren Williams said...

I can barely walk barefoot on pavement, let alone run!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

I get asked by barefoot runners how to get faster. My answer is always: "wear some shoes." (Some follow the advice and run faster).

3amRunner said...

I agree we "are an experiment of one." But runners are like evangelists...they like to convert.
I will wear anything that works, and right now, Vibrams are the ONLY thing that works for me. Some stupid injury in my foot precludes me from wearing shoes...even to walk in. Could it be bad form...doubtful. Bad luck...maybe.
I don't care if folks laugh, or support. I care only if I can run. But I can still run fast!