Thoughts on minimalist running shoes
Before we delve into the world of ultralight running shoes or barefoot running, let us take a moment to reflect and offer support to those impacted by the tragic events that occurred at this year’s Boston Marathon.
Terrorists savagely assaulted our running tribe and its supporters, killing three and wounding nearly 200 others. Our sport lost its innocence but not its resolve. Yes, continue to run, and train to run in Boston on Patriots Day. You can also support our running family in Boston by giving to One Fund Boston (www.onefundboston.org), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt entity.
On to a lighter running topic: A recent book, The Bare Foot Runner, romanticized the natural experience, prompting a renewed interest in running shoeless or in a minimalist technique. Can you recall as a child running barefoot in the grass or across a beach? It felt wonderful, liberating. You floated, soared over the terrain. Ah, those distances and times were much shorter than the typical 5K (3.1-mile event) or marathon (42K or 26.2 miles). Chances are you were leaner, free of the extra 10 or 20 pounds adulthood tends to bring upon us. In the real world, there are several factors to consider when considering running in a minimalist shoe or even in bare feet.
If your foot strikes on the fore or midfoot as opposed to the heel, you have less potential for injury. Heel strikers load approximately three times the force to the body than those who land more gently on the fore or midfeet.
Amount of running
How much running do you plan to do in the minimalist shoe? In general, less is better. Gradually build up time and/or distance. Try starting with five minutes a week, about three times a week, then add two minutes each successive week.
Are you running on sand, grass or rocky- and rooted trails? The rougher the terrain, the more cushion you will want, and the more gradual you should build your tolerance. Resist the temptation to do too much, too soon. A Google Search will reveal several articles citing increased injuries for those wearing minimalist shoes – probably due to going too fast, too long, too soon. It’s fun to explore new gear and techniques, but do so gradually, and with caution. Listen to the slightest physical cues that could tell you you’re overdoing it, and slow down.
Keep striding and smiling. — Coach Mike
Featured June Races
Three Baron Renaissance Run: June 7, Anchorage Tozier Track. Starts at 6 p.m. on a mostly flat, fast course. Registration is $15. Definitely stop and visit the fair afterward. Human chessboard and tomato pelting is a hoot. www.3barons.org
Alaska Run For Women: June 8, 16th Avenue/Sullivan Arena. 5-mile timed, and 5-mile/1-mile untimed events. 8:45 a.m. for the timed 5-mile run. Benefits breast cancer research. www.akrfw.org
Fossil 5K & Tyrannosauras 10K: June 10, Kincaid Park. Trails run is great fun, and supports the Alaska Museum of Natural History in Mountain View. www.alaskamuseum.org
Mosquito Meander: June 15, Fairbanks. This 5K is flat and fast so you will not be eaten alive by the bugs. Starts at 10 a.m. and benefits Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption. Registration is $35 for families, $20 for adults. www.fcaalaska.org
Finally, see this month’s Mayors Marathon insert for details on the four-miler, half-marathon and marathon. This classic event supports University of Alaska Anchorage, and showcases our fair city. All courses are challenging, and you earn your shirt as you climb the famed Radio City Hill to West High Stadium/track.