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Good article on running footwear
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Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 02:50:54 MDT Print View

Arthur Lydiard: "Shoes that let your foot function like you're barefoot - they're the shoes for me.' "

I injured my achilles last year running, I partially blame the thick 'training' running shoes which any shoe shop will sell sometime who is just starting to run (the excessive cushioning means your heel sinks down into the shoe stretching out the tendon).

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 07:04:23 MDT Print View


Human Beings are not made to run barefoot on concrete, and stepping on glass or nails will ruin your day.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 08:19:14 MDT Print View

Thanks for the link- very much a re-hash of a lot of articles/info floating around but I like to reada anything coming out on this subject.

As for "painful truth no. 4"...
Au contrere, mon frere...
I ran about two miles of concrete barefoot last night as part of recovery/cool down for a 6 mile trail run. My feet feel great and I'm finding that incorporating some barefoot running seems to be aiding recovery and strengthening many minor foot muscles that simply don't get worked when wearing shoes. I think it's also a good exercise for form.

As for glass and nails, I like to avoid them.

jim jimson
(Magnum_Opus) - F
Toe Strike on 05/18/2009 08:40:39 MDT Print View

Every time I see people talking about bare foot vs shoe it always seems to assume every one with shoes is heel striking. I dunno, maybe it's just me but I toe strike with or without shoes.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 10:09:55 MDT Print View

Lydiard is generally recognized as the all time best middle to long distance coach in history. Even those today who disagree with Lydiard's methods usually accept his system with some minor modifications.

Heavier training shoes do force most runners to heel strike first.

I am hiking more and more with XC racing flats. Minimal support and nearly flat/equal sole and heel. I also have been wearing/hiking/training with a pair of vibram fivefingers KSO. Eventually I will probably do the majority of hiking in the fivefingers, with the exception being rugged cross country travel with no trails. Actually, my racing flats each weigh 1 ounce less than the five fingers, which surprised me.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 10:13:48 MDT Print View

Can you give some names to the "racing flats". I don't have a clue on where to start looking.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 11:02:08 MDT Print View

Weights are for each shoe (usually a US size 9). Some are mesh and some are mesh with thin insulation (keeps more crap out of shoe). Look for the ones without spikes or spike plates.

Nike Zoom Forever XC (7.1 oz)
Nike Zoom Streak XC (6.0 oz)
Adidas adiZero PRO (5.8 0z)
Saucony Grid Kilkenny (6.1 oz)
Saucony Shay XC Flat (6.3 oz)
Brooks Mach 10 Spikeless (7.0 oz)
Brooks T6 Racer (6.1 oz)

Here are some comments from the Brooks site regarding the T6, to provide some insight on how these racing flats should be viewed. Keep in mind that a marathon in 26+ miles and people wearing these shoes are running them in little over 2 hours to 3 hours.
Searching for that new PR for any distance up to the half marathon? The T6 Racer is just the ticket. The T6 weighs next to nothing (6.1 oz), feels like an extension of your foot, and provides the right amount of protection to take you the distance.

Note As this shoe is a very lightweight, minimal support racing flat, the vast majority of runners will not find it “enough shoe” for a full marathon. If you have a light frame and a biomechanically efficient stride, however, you may be able to get away with it. We suggest you work up to it in several half marathon-plus races beforehand to see how it works for you before running in it for a full marathon.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 11:30:51 MDT Print View

Racing flats! Good post Nick.
I'm looking at shifting into them as well.
I posted a link to Anton Krupicka's blog on another barefoot thread here.
He runs/races 100+ milers in flats; minimal footwear with no heel...he argues it's basically something that doesn't alter his natural stride but provides some toe/sole protection. From what I hear he also will cut out the tongues and remove the insole if there is one.
I cut out the tongues and removed the insoles on an old pair of trail runners definitely speeds drying and reduces bulk without adding any discomfort on my shorter runs.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 11:31:32 MDT Print View

Thank you for the examples.

Have you had an opportunity to compare flats with some of the lighter Innov-8 shoes?

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 11:59:42 MDT Print View

Every time an article like this gets posted I get curious about it. I'll check out racing flats the next time I'm down at my local shop.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 12:14:51 MDT Print View


I have. The lightest shoe is the X-Talon 212 at 7.5 oz. I actually am planning on trying on a pair of these today.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
beware on 05/18/2009 12:31:44 MDT Print View

I think there's a lot of truth to lighter shoes and stronger feet camp. Problem is most of us have spent so much time not being barefoot on rough ground that we have weak feet and ankles. Pushing this too far can be troublesome. (Example #1 would be the neuroma ultrarunner Anton Krupicka got last summer.)

I try to run a happy medium of low (cut and to the groun) shoes that have some firm cushioning/impact protection without being too rigid. Hard to find these days.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: beware on 05/18/2009 12:48:54 MDT Print View

I think the happy medium is definitely the way to go. There's no way I could run a marathon/50K in flats right now...maybe not ever. If I could, I'm certain my knees would be trashed. But by incorporating barefoot running/minimal footwear into one's training, I think there's great potential for avoiding the pitfalls of running in overbuilt shoes that many studies are discovering. I'm currently trying to keep it varied and am having great results; long runs in traditional shoes, medium runs in slightly lighte/more minimal pairs, and short distances for experimenting with minimalist shoes/going barefoot...
So far I've had none of the ITB or knee issues plaguing me during my first attempts at marathoning/ultrarunning when I was going exclusively in beefy shoes that encouraged tons of heelstriking/bad form.

Ryan Zahynacz
(creep) - F
concrete is fine to run on on 05/18/2009 14:08:21 MDT Print View

Intersting truth:

I run almost exclusively on concrete and asphalt in barefeet. No problems.

Here is the strange part, I used to get cracked heel from wearing sandals but ever since I started running barefoot I don't get any skin problems at all.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 14:55:19 MDT Print View

John -

"Human Beings are not made to run barefoot on concrete, and stepping on glass or nails will ruin your day."

Whether this is true or not, human beings certainly aren't made to run with shoes on either.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Re: Re: Good article on running footwear on 05/18/2009 16:46:46 MDT Print View

Nick - thanks for the list. Do you (or anyone else) have hints as to which models might fit wider feet?

I would love to try the Talons for hiking, but suspect that they'll be too narrow. 310/330/295 fit me ok, but the 315 felt a bit narrow. I suppose I could try sizing up.

It's frustrating that racy/minimal always seems to be narrow!

Ben Abelman
(gadgetmanben) - F
My answer to this. on 05/18/2009 17:08:19 MDT Print View

The solution i have found, Vibram Five Fingers. (
i currently own 3 different pairs, and have been through two more. i do all my running and day hikes in them, and have even started to do some backpacking in them. they adhere to all four of the painful truths, in that they allow your foot to function as if it were barefoot, but protect you from scrapes, heat, and to some extent sharp objects.

JT Croteau
(Tobit) - F

Locale: Shadows of the White Mountains
Re: My answer to this. on 05/18/2009 18:29:02 MDT Print View

Oh, I like those Vibram Five Fingers. I may have to look at getting a pair of those.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Narrow Feet on 05/18/2009 18:45:08 MDT Print View

It does seem that racing flats are narrower. But keep in mind that people who race in these do not wear socks, or they wear very thin socks. Plus most long distance runners look anemic :) plus people who run over a 100 miles per week have pretty tough feet.

To be honest, with a proper fit socks aren't necessary, and these are not shoes you would wear in the snow. I wear my Saucony's without socks or just a silk sock liner. Asisc's are a little wider and I wear a thin merino wool sock. Key here, as with any shoe is proper fitment. Unfortunately, many of use are not close to stores for an onsite visit. However, there are many more running stores out there than hiking stores.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
fivefingers on 05/18/2009 19:00:37 MDT Print View

I think these are the 'cat's meow.' But most people have to go slow with these. I am fortunate because I usually am barefooted around the house and flip flops are my main shoe 90% of the time. The first week I wore them all day and ran 2 - 4 miles each day also.

You do feel everything with the sole of your feet, which is kinda of weird... running on sand you can feel the grains and larger stones, but they don't hurt unless you hit something large with a lot of force. Also debris can get caught in between toes sometimes with is a funny feeling also.

If you don't like talking to strangers, then these are not the shoes to wear in public. People will stop you and ask questions.

Running in soft sand/dirt I am much more balanced. My feet and toes grip and conform to the shape of the ground, while even flats tend act as skis trying to stay on the upper crests of the sand. Much less likely to roll an anke with these.

The only thing I have problems with is hiking off trail in rocky areas. Have to becareful how you land each foot, but the foot is sending signals to the brain, so it becomes automatic. The other thing is that you toes are spread out, and it is easy for my little toes to catch on the side of a stone or rock which really hurts. I am doing some off trail hiking this weekend and cannot wear the vibrams, because one of my little toes is still tender from the last weekend's hike when I kicked a rock by accident.

Don't be surprised if you start singing the Kink's song, "Apeman" when hiking :)