I'm ruminating. Which means I am not trying to sell anything except a hard time. And I usually just give that away. But I'm bothered by the recent slew of bare foot running articles by people who don't seem to know their feet from their anal sphincter. The most recent article was about Kenyan runners who do so much better running in bare feet as they put less stress on their legs and knees. ….Hey I did POSE. I was a Track star…well in high school…..it took me forever to learn to run on my heels and that was at the age of about 28. So I understand what is being said.
I have also lived in a country where people usually go around bare footed. Not Hawaii dude. Samoa. And it isn't the planters but the fishermen who really go barefoot most of the time. Even the Samoans know it's nuts to go up into the hills without at least a pair of flip flops. But I digress. I have looked at the bottoms of many Samoan feet in my PCV days as I was the unofficial doctor for a few families and then my crew of workers. After an average of about 25 years of no shoes those people had soles as thick as a trail shoe. The fishermen could walk on coral without injury.. These Kenyan dudes, well have you ever seen the thorns on an African Keawe?? Think about this. You and I will never, ever, ever have feet like theirs. The mechanics are just there. Yes there is less stress on the knees. But, and this is the very big but, you and I will never have feet like theirs. So any comparison is just for talk. There is no comparison. Its all just bull by people who have never run an ultra in their lives. (fuds with more degrees than opinions!)
I've run in minimal shoes on my toes. For some reason at the time we regarded long distance as about a half mile. I think some of that was that we found that forefoot running was very hard to do over distance. But it was the sixties, and we were not real men, like real men now–and I'm sure there are some of you who doubt there was even running before Nike. I learned to run on my heels because I wanted to run some distance…..like five miles. POSE is an ergonomically sound concept. But I'm not the caliber of athlete to do pose even to 10 miles. Perhaps I could learn to be, but I run trails. I naturally forefoot run on trails at times, but then I break stride and march over roots and rocks. When I forefoot run the kind of shoe I'm wearing is immaterial. All the minimal stuff is irrelevant because I'm on my toes in whatever shoe I am wearing. The rest of the time I really want a thick pad between my sole and the uneven, rocky, sharp ground. I don't have twenty-five years of thickness on the soles of my feet. I don't have twenty-five years to put it there. Walking around barefoot all the time, even in Hawaii, is not particularly accepted–Unless you are camping in a tent in a beach park.
So I support anyone who wants to go out and run barefooted or minimalist. I'll buy you your barefoot shoe if you are running next year's HURT. I think you need to make a statement. I think this is as important as global warming, or the need to say paper not plastic, or whatever the tree-huggers are supposed to say. Go out and be really dumb without thinking about the full implications of the studies these clowns are doing. Physics is just that. But the testing is on a treadmill, where they could measure things, is not on the road or the trail, where real feet are as different as soft-as-sand and bush-wise-hard, or reef-resistant-tough.
Be careful with this new fad. But not to careful because I really want you to be one of the weak I hurdle at next year's HURT. Aloha MIkem