Gotta Be The Shoes
by Felipe Polanco

Sorry for the late post but I’ve been recovering from Regionals this weekend.  Anyone else reading this would think I actually competed but we all know I just went in hopes that some of the awesome-ness that is “Boom-sauce” would rub off.  No such luck!!!  Anyway, I promised last week that I’d follow up on a topic that some people are still confused about and I still get questions on: footwear and which ones to wear.  Hopefully, you’re not wearing these:

In all seriousness, there are hundreds of types of shoes with bubbles, gels and foam that will make choosing a shoe harder than walking in platform shoes.  I hope to shed some light on the topic.

As of now, the overall trend is to go with a minimal shoe.  Whether is the Nike Free or the more popular Vibram Five Fingers, its safe to say the age of foam-soled shoes has gone the way of slap bracelets and stone-washed jeans.  However, is this trend safe for everyone and should it be an immediate switch?  The answers are it depends and no, respectively.

To give you a brief history of where the minimalist movement began, it can easily be traced to the book, Born to Run.  The author of Born to Run found an indigenous tribe in Mexico who’s members would run hundreds of miles without any shoes.  And we’re not talking pristine pavement or Yankee Stadium grass.  We’re talking about rugged and dessert terrain through extreme temperatures.  Through this hands-on research, it turns out that we’ve been running incorrectly ever since Nike came out with the first “running” shoe in the 1960s, the shoe we all know today: sneakers with thick heels, bubble and gel inserts that allowed us to adopt a heel-strike running form.  Its no coincidence that 20 years later, the incidence rate of ankle, knee and hip injuries skyrocketed among runners.  Is that to say you should go out and get yourself a pair of Five Fingers?  NO!!!  Not at all!!!  You need to ease your way into any minimalist shoe.  Even more so if you have any foot/gait issues (flat feet, high arches, etc).

First and foremost, get your gait analyzed.  There are a few running stores in the area that will analyze your gait for free or a small charge.  This will ensure you’re set up with the proper minimalist shoe or at least get yourself on the right path.  In addition, your running style will most likely have to change to accomodate the new minimalist footwear.

Second, ease your way into that shoe.  I’ve been mentioning that both Nike and New Balance have great shoe lines that will help you ease your way into their respective minimalist shoe (Nike Free and NB Minimus).  Nike has the 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0, with the 5.0 being the shoe with the most cushioning/support in the Free line.  I’m not as familiar with the NB line but I did use their “entry level” minimal shoe for a running race I had last year.  It was one of the better shoes I’ve had and much better than the Nike Free for running longer distances.

In addition to choosing your proper shoe, you have to ease your body into using the new shoe.  Once you purchase your new shoe, don’t expect to run a marathon in them.  Your body will hate you.  When Nike first came out with the Free, they had to issue thousands of refunds because people were not only running in their normal heel-strike running form, but they were running their usual distances and breaking all the small bones in the foot.  Not the best way to being your marathon training.

Start by wearing them around the house.  Get your feet used to the cushioning (or lack thereof).  Next, wear them while running errands: food shopping, walking around the mall, etc.  Just be sure to have an extra pair of shoes handy in case you need to change out of them.  After a month or two (this is just an average), you can start to incorporate the new shoes into a workout that DOESN’T include running.  Assuming there hasn’t been any pain/discomfort up until this point, you can begin to experiment with short-distance runs.  By this point, you should be able to use the shoes in your normal training runs and/or workouts.

Again, this is a general guideline.  If you have ANY questions or doubts, please feel free to ask one of your coaches for some additional advice.

Hope to see everyone tomorrow at the Memorial Day WOD!!!