Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More From The Age of Irony

The other day, The New York Times published an article titled, Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants. The two paragraphs from the article below really nail the controversy brewing about barefoot running and point to the irony. How ironic, the same company that created heel running, then created a shoe to get away from it, based on how elite college athletes were training.

Things changed in the early 1970s, when Bill Bowerman, a track coach turned entrepreneur, created a cushioned running shoe that allowed runners to take longer strides and land on their heels, rather than a more natural mid- or forefoot strike. Mr. Bowerman and his business partner, Phil Knight, marketed the new shoes under the Nike brand, and the rest is history.

The big shoe companies are clearly paying attention to the trend. Nike was first to market with the Nike Free, a flexible shoe for “barefootlike running” with less padding than the company’s typical offerings. It was introduced in 2005 after Nike representatives discovered that a prominent track coach to whom they supplied shoes had his team train barefoot.

My take. I have a pair of Nike Free, a pair of Vibram FiveFinger and a pair of New Balance running shoes. They each have their place in my training. I'm not about to go on my ten-mile run or longer with the Vibram or the Free. When I did try even five miles in the Free it put too much force on my Achilles tendon. I've been adding more distance with the barefoot shoes but actually like them more for my speed workouts and pool workouts. Then I use the New Balance for my long run. The best of both worlds.

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