I had a pleasant chat with Jon Anderson who writes for a number of the military times publications. This past week he covered the current status of minimalist running shoes in the service. The article, “On Your Toes” appeared in the Army Times. He quotes the figure of up to 35% of Navy Seals are incorporating minimalist shoes in their training. In addition to the interview questions we discussed what may make the minimalist shoes acceptable on more bases. One is that if wearing the shoes gets you out the door and has you enjoying your training this will support you mission of fitness.
This past summer Diane Rehm had a lively interview of Christopher McDougall, Amby Burfoot and myself. If you haven’t listened to it, I recommend the show in general and this session titled “Running In America“. During the interview I was asked if I thought barefoot running was dangerous. My reply was “sitting down is dangerous”. Amby brings much wisdom to the discussion. Chris is the author of the best selling “Born To Run” and brings his thoughts on the subject which were summed up in his interview on “Real Sports Episode 158” in which he said at the end of the story “You were born to run. You were designed to run. Running is not going to hurt you…..When you get rid of all the shoes and all the technology and actually rely on your legs the way they have evolved to be used, you can actually run injury free for the rest of your life”. This statement has converted a good number of runners to minimalist shoes. Is it true? That is the start of the discussion. There is more to the story. If you are interested in the topic, you have the chance to listen to an hour long chat.
If things are going well for you, don’t make unnecessary changes. If you are changing your foot strike or your shoe type, make the changes very, very gradually. This can not be emphasized enough.
Is there one opinion on this topic that will universally satisfy everyone? The answer is no. In the Diane Rehm show the concept of there being an necessary “great schism” in the running community was mentioned. It is important to recognize that exercise is good for you. Movement is good. It could be running, walking, hiking, swimming, and cycling that you enjoy. It could be with traditional shoes or not. Whatever works for you is what is best for you. All the articles you read may not offer guidance that is specific and right for you. The current exercise recommendations for adults are for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity 5 days per week (or 20 minutes of intense aerobic activity – and I recommend at least a 5 minute warm up and 5 minute cool down) and 2 days per week of strength training.
Freedom Comes In Different Flavors