Running is the most natural sport. What does it take to prepare for a run? I would not even say clothes! Well we all know it does not even need shoes.
The idea of running being very intrinsic and must be kept in the same manner inspires me, though it does not mean am against shod running. Shod running is, at least in theory, faster and allows covering longer distances than barefoot, or minimalist running styles. At the same time it has its own downfalls.
Through experiencing several running styles, I believe now that utilizing drills of minimalist running (like running in Huaraches or my favourite Vibram Five Fingers) into the whole running program is highly beneficial, however to make a good time at a running race wearing shoes is pertinent. To list a few benefits of incorporating minimalism at training, can say it helps with:
- Proper understanding of self bio-mechanics
- Adopting a more efficient running form
- Deep strengthening of lower leg muscles and other soft tissues
Benefits of shod running could be for example:
- Provides more protection and comfort to feet, as foot, the tiniest part of the whole human’s running machine, is the most prone to injury body part
- Lessens the negative impact of incorrect landings and improper forms (forgiving effect)
- Unites forces into forward propulsion for speed
Once you learn how to run barefoot or in extreme minimalist shoes, you can choose better what shoes to wear for going forward. Note that, there are phases in natural running that can be skipped or bypassed in shod running. You have to understand what they are and if it is worth skipping them.
For example, one main natural feature in our leg is the springiness in its soft tissues that would let us save energy. Our legs can reserve a portion of the energy that is going to be wasted at hitting the ground and release it straight back like a spring as soon as we head off to take the next stride. This bounce off the feet can be improved with practice (if not merely done by running, there are exercises I can show you). In contrary, shoes, mainly speaking of padded and heel-elevated ones, decrease or completely remove this bounce, perhaps focusing more on shock absorption at landing.
Many shod runners land on their heel, roll towards the front end of their foot, and use everything to propel themselves forward compensating for the lack of that natural bounce, a feature that mother nature worked out in millions of years of evolution to help animals run more efficiently. If you are not using this feature, at least know what exactly you are throwing away.
Efficiency is built in the nature, you have probably observed some real examples. Even at areas with abundance of resources, plants and animals still have features to reserve energy for a rainy day because it just takes a couple of days in a row with no food to die. That is where I come in, efficiency.
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