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"Best way to run"
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Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
"Best way to run" on 11/07/2011 18:17:51 MST Print View

Interesting article on the rediscovery of the "best way to run," not sure if it is relevant to hiking. Key they say is proper stride and posture, and shoes don't make a difference if you get this correct:

Tim Haynes

Locale: Mid Atlantic
"Best way to run" on 11/09/2011 10:57:37 MST Print View

It was a good article and a nice follow up to the book, "Born to Run," that came out a few years ago by the same author.

But in the book -- and article -- shoes DO matter. But the recommended shoes are basically the simplest ones. The less that's between the ground and your feet, the less that's in the way of a clean run/walk.

The funny thing about padded shoes is that you actually hit the ground HARDER and put more stress on your joints when there is too much padding. The nerves in the bottom of your feet are looking for feedback -- when their is too much padding, they tell your body to "strike harder," trying to find a response. For instance, direct impact forces on the knees are usually 30-40% higher in padded shoes than when barefoot.

The tricky part is that you have to shift slowly -- you use muscles in barefoot-style shoes that you never use in bulkier footwear. But once you've built up the right muscles, it is far easier on your body.

Thanks for starting this thread. I know there are other minimalist hikers/runners on here.

Dave Marcus
(Djrez4) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: "Best way to run" on 11/09/2011 11:48:41 MST Print View

I'm a VFF runner (when I run). I hike in them as well, weather permitting. Tim said pretty much all I would have an then some.

EDIT - Now that I read the article, that 100-up exercise looks interesting. It should strengthen and increase endurance in the hip flexors and enhance proprioception, both of which would improve running and hiking ability.

Edited by Djrez4 on 11/09/2011 12:01:29 MST.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
fox walking on 11/09/2011 12:30:16 MST Print View

I think there is some relevance to hiking. It seems similar to the natural movement that Tom Brown Jr advocates in his books and classes. What he refers to as "fox walking" is essentially a variation on forefoot strike and is reccomended for walking and running. He goes on to reccomend differentiated movement for different topography including a variation of heel strike for steep declines.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
article on 11/09/2011 13:44:15 MST Print View

from the article ... which i find very relevant to todays outdoor media ...

When a few of Nike’s shoes didn’t fare so well in the 1981 reviews, the company pulled its $1 million advertising contract with Runner’s World. Nike already had started its own magazine, Running, which would publish shoe reviews and commission star writers like Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson.

“Nike would never advertise with me again,” Anderson says. “That hurt us bad.” In 1985, Anderson sold Runner’s World to Rodale, which, he says, promptly abolished his grading system. Today, every shoe in Runner’s World is effectively “recommended” for one kind of runner or another. David Willey, the magazine’s current editor, says that it only tests shoes that “are worth our while.” After Nike closed its magazine, it took its advertising back to Runner’s World. (Megan Saalfeld, a Nike spokeswoman, says she was unable to find someone to comment about this episode.)

“It’s a grading system where you can only get an A,” says Anderson, who went on to become the founder and chief executive of Ujena Swimwear.

Just as the shoe reviews were changing, so were the shoes: fear, the greatest of marketing tools, entered the game. Instead of being sold as performance accessories, running shoes were rebranded as safety items, like bike helmets and smoke alarms. Consumers were told they’d get hurt, perhaps for life, if they didn’t buy the “right” shoes. It was an audacious move that flew in the face of several biological truths: humans had thrived as running animals for two million years without corrective shoes, and asphalt was no harder than the traditional hunting terrains of the African savanna.

In 1985, Benno Nigg, founder and currently co-director of the University of Calgary’s Human Performance Lab, floated the notion that impact and rear-foot motion (called pronation) were dangerous. His work helped spur an arms race of experimental technology to counter those risks with plush heels and wedged shoes. Running magazines spread the new gospel. To this day, Runner’s World tells beginners that their first workout should be opening their wallets: “Go to a specialty running store . . . you’ll leave with a comfortable pair of shoes that will have you running pain- and injury-free.”

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/09/2011 13:48:10 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: "Best way to run" on 11/10/2011 10:45:48 MST Print View

I spent the whole summer hiking in huarache sandals. It's true you do walk differently in minimal shoes. But it's really hard to walk fast. I ended up running a lot to keep up with my friends when normally I'd be near the front of the pack at my fast hiking pace.

I recently got some Altra zero-drop shoes. They're zero-drop but still have some cushioning. They're ideal for hiking, in my opinion. I can walk really fast and no more chafing and crazy callous build-up from sandal straps. I just wish they were a little wider. I have freakishly wide feet.

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Best Way to Run - Minimalist Shoes on 11/10/2011 13:19:49 MST Print View

Hi Piper,

Don’t know whether you’ll remember a conversation here on BPL a few months ago (w/regards to their 2 minimalist shoes articles). Anyway, after being pointed to the Invisible Shoes by some of the nice folks of this community here (GM and DT), I -indeed- purchased one of the Invisible Shoes Huaraches Kits (Contact 6mm Barefoot PLUS sandal kit). BTW Steven recommended to take de 6mm because of my large feet and a 220 lbs frame.

To make a long story short: Yes, you are right indeed about the fact that you walk differently with Huaraches (very different, I would say). The longest I’ve walked so far (after about 2 months walking on and off -I mean, not every day- in different terrain) was a 5 hour walk in the mountains (pretty steep, tough terrain). I wouldn’t want to say I was comfortable, but the “soreness” of the foot soles was bearable; I still don’t like the “Feel-the-World™-idea” behind Invisible Shoes -- well, I do but my feet don’t (yet). What I didn’t anticipate was that the very next day I had such an extreme form of muscle pain (or is it muscle soreness??). Every muscle in my whole body seemed to hurt (legs, gluteus, back, everything). I don’t remember the last time I had muscle pain (and I do hike a lot -- with long, strenuous days). A definite proof of the fact that walking in Huaraches is different from walking in “normal” shoes. Not worse, only different; just hope, I’ll get used to it.

Also, and this surprised me mostly, you’re so right when you say it’s hard to walk fast (at least, I can’t). Don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I find myself looking more at the trail (just a few meters in front of me) instead of looking at the scenery around me as I used to do before with trail runners. I suppose this is because I’m afraid of stumbling on protruding rocks or roots which could hurt my toes. Will it become any better??? (When time comes).

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Best Way to Run - Minimalist Shoes on 11/10/2011 17:43:06 MST Print View

Henk: hope, I’ll get used to it

You will. Don't get discouraged.

All: regarding pace...

Try experimenting with the turnover of your steps. Quick. Spin those dogs. Under your body. Don't push off of your rear foot. Keep your head up. Lean forward. Really focus on form.

Running has helped me build up my 'barefoot' muscles - kinda like new ones popped up. Insides of lower legs below calf.

Now my walking has become faster.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Soreness on 11/10/2011 18:36:13 MST Print View

I had a similar experience to Henk as far as hiking in minimal shoes.
I hiked about 175 miles of the Colorado Trail in a pair of La Sportiva X-Country. I've never heard much about these in minimal shoe discussions but they are pretty minimal. They have no rock plate, relatively little heel to toe drop (I think its the same as the NB Minimus) and a pretty thin sole. I wasa bit sore at times but nothing really major. I was doing some long days so soreness was to be expected. I switched to NB 101 when I resupplied at Twin Lakes just to play it safe.

Yesterday I took the La Sportivas out on the AT for about 10-12 miles. When I got back to the car I was sore all over but mostly in my legs and my feet hurt really bad. Today my legs are still sore and I feel like I have a bruise on my right forefoot.
I'm trying to figure out what happened since this is way worse than anything on the CT.

Here's my theory. First I had two things going for me on the CT.
1. I'd spent the summer in the Texas Hill country wearing either sandles, Merrell Trail Gloves or NB 101. All relatively minimal for rocky country so my feet were probably a bit toughed up to begin with.
2. I don't recall the first week or so of the trail being particularly rugged. Sure it was rugged in places but I don't remember rocks poking out of the ground like the AT.
I think with these two factors my feet were able to adjust well.

On the AT yesterday I think I had two problems.
1. I was out of shape. I haven't done significant hiking or running since mid September because I sprained my ankle. So I assume I lost a bit there.
2. The AT is rough. There are sharp rocks pointing out everywere and they're covered in leaves so you can land on a sharp rock you didn't know was there.

My conclusion is that I shouldn't try minimal shoes unless I work up to it. Second while I like minimal shoes I might need more on "rough" trails which means trails where there are lots of pointy rocks poking up to jab you in the foot.

Edited by Cameron on 11/10/2011 18:41:33 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Best Way to Run - Minimalist Shoes on 11/14/2011 12:20:37 MST Print View

"Also, and this surprised me mostly, you’re so right when you say it’s hard to walk fast (at least, I can’t). Don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I find myself looking more at the trail (just a few meters in front of me) instead of looking at the scenery around me as I used to do before with trail runners. I suppose this is because I’m afraid of stumbling on protruding rocks or roots which could hurt my toes. Will it become any better??? (When time comes)."

I never could do the same speed in huarache sandals as in shoes. Even if I could get my steps faster, at some point they have to be as fast as running. Then I'm running instead of walking.

I have some Invisible Shoes. They get slippery when wet, so hiking after crossing a creek where I have to get my feet wet is very difficult. (Hiking IN a creek is nearly impossible as they fold over under water.) Same goes for my leather-topped huaraches. Very slippery when wet. Have to slow down, wait for them to dry, step in sand or dirt to force them not to be slippery or really struggle to keep up with others while my feet slip around so much I'm afraid I'll break the straps or slice up my feet.

I tried making some heavy-duty huaraches but couldn't get the straps right and chafed up my feet badly. What a bummer. It's kind of a kick to wear sandals out on the trail. Once your musculature gets used to it anyway. You feel kinda badass.

I'm really happy with the zero drop Altra Lone Peaks so far. Best combo of zero-drop goodness with slightly more minimal than the typical cushioned shoe feel but not so minimal as to slow me down.