Chances are that by now you have come across someone wearing those ‘crazy looking’ toe shoes either at the gym, a fitness event or even at the Golden Globes. And in the running community, the topic of minimalist shoes (a shoe that imitates the feeling of running barefoot) versus traditional shoes has become the source of much debate. I may get raked across the coals by some of my peers for this over-simplified analogy, but it’s kinda like the iphone-Blackberry battle in the cell phone world.
Now I’m a Blackberry girl, I have been for the past eight years, but I do use Mac and have an ipod Nano. I like both brands (this would be where Conny would ‘cough-whore’ me), but certain products have features that I prefer over the other, and they work well in my life. So although I do wear traditional running shoes, I am naturally curious about the minimalist movement.
To find out more on the subject, last night I attended the Vancouver Running Symposium – Traditional Shoes vs. Minimalist Shoes with Conny, Soraiya and two hundred other running geeks.
We arrived early, saved our seats and headed for a quick bite to eat. The event was held at the Hotel Vancouver, so I was instantly a fan. Really, how often do you get to start a running symposium evening off in your favourite hotel lobby bar? No lemondrops were consumed on this excursion, but we did run into our friend Kim.
The event started promptly at 7:00pm with a brief introduction and then a 5-minute (and it was timed) presentation from each of the panel experts (each with his own set of very impressive credentials) on where they stood on the role of traditional footwear versus minimalist footwear in helping running performance and preventing injury.
A short break then took place where you could check out many of the sponsor minimalist products (those awful looking vibrams come in pink), grab a glass of water and popcorn (I never did find out where the popcorn was coming from). We then returned to our seats where three questions were posed to the panel (not exact wording)
- What type of runner would you prescribe for a recreational runner?
- What is the goal of footwear in injury prevention?
- What orientation should shoe designers take in the next five years?
What ensued was a very educational and entertaining (if you like running geek humor) debate.
Here’s what I got out of it:
- A few stats: 80% of runners are heel/toe runners, 20% of runners are forefoot runners and there has been a 59% increase in runners from 2001-2009.
- Research shows the benefit in the use of minimalist shoes over traditional shoes when rehabbing many injuries including acute ankle sprains and plantar fasciitis.
- If you are thinking of making the switch from traditional shoes to minimalist, go slow, don’t expect to change shoes overnight and be able to do your regular training volume. If you are not already a forefoot runner (and 80% of us are not) your body and your running gait will need to adapt. Consider your goals before making the switch.
- When it comes to re-training your gait, get some advice from a professional, youtube can’t teach you everything (ok, I already knew that, but there are many who don’t). Don’t forget about your entire body, form, core, as well hip, ankle and foot mobility.
- Most injuries come from too much too soon or an old injury that was not properly rehabbed and has come back, I repeat most injuries come from too much too soon or an old injury that was not properly rehabbed and has come back.
- Shoes are an element of a good training plan.
- Each shoe manufacturer has their own variation of a minimalist shoe, some are more minimal than others, do your market research.
- Consistent variability – vary terrain, pace, grade, planes, movement and shoes.
- And just like in the iphone-Blackberry scenario, new developments in technology occur rapidly, the shoes you buy today will most likely be outdated in three months!
Will I be making the switch anytime soon? Here’s the interesting part, if you had asked me before Thursday evening, with all of my princess foot issues I would have said unequivocally no. But after listening to the panel and realizing that I am already doing a fair amount of barefoot training (albeit not running) in my Studio and spend a great deal of my time in minimalist shoes (hello Uggs) stranger things can happen. And have you seen the pretty colours they come in?
What do you think?
When Conny posted this article earlier today by Susan Lacke, I felt it my duty to share. And without further ado I give you
10 Reasons Running Doesn’t Suck As Much As You Think
The word “running” used to conjure up painful and awkward memories of gym class. My middle-school gym teacher, Mrs. Morey, would stand her roly-poly body at the top of the hill behind our school, barking through a megaphone between bites of beef jerky at us red-faced kids as we ran circles around the track. According to her, running was supposed to build character, or whatever it is they teach gym teachers to say in gym teacher school.
Needless to say, most of the gasping kids on the track were thinking the same thing: Character? <bleep> you. Choke on your jerky, fatty.
Your first experience with running was probably in gym class. And it’s quite possible it left the same rancid taste in your mouth, with little desire to ever run again. But no more! I hit the reset button on my attitude towards running, and for the last two years, have gone from hating running to loving it (most of the time). Running really doesn’t suck as much as you think. Here’s why:
- Most races and fun runs are full of hot bodies in very little clothing. Let me repeat that: HOT PEOPLE. WEARING PRACTICALLY NOTHING. Wear sunglasses, and ogle with reckless abandon.
- You can lose weight by drinking nothing but hot water with lemon. Or you can run for an hour, treat yourself to a cookie and still fit into your skinny jeans. One of these options makes you bitchy; the other makes you rad.
- Take your iPod with you, and your runs suddenly become a safe place to indulge your love of boy-band music. With enough practice, you can even blend in a couple dance moves from ‘Bye Bye Bye’. Don’t lie: You’ve still got that routine memorized.
- When your boss, your melodramatic friend and your nagging to-do list won’t leave you alone, calmly put on your running shoes and head out the door. They won’t follow you. It’s a safer alternative to storming out with both middle fingers in the air (though you can -and should- still do this in your head, just for spectacular effect).
- You’ll discover lululemon pants are good for more than just buying tampons and Cheez-its at Target (I know, ladies. My world was rocked with that discovery, too.).
- Running is the last place you have to “be a lady.” Sweat, snot and sneaking behind a bush to pee is not only liberating it’s fun, in that giggly-childish-naughty kind of way.
- Getting a run in before happy hour means you get tipsy on half a glass of wine instead of your usual two. That’s not being a lush, that’s just sound economic planning.
- Studies have shown that runners have better sex. Sex counts as a cross-training workout, which in turn makes you a better runner, which – hello! – leads to even better sex. Really, the whole thing is full of win-wins.
- Girls are lucky; there’s an entire industry committed to making us look awesome while getting our sweat on. Workout clothes come in all sorts of cool colors and designs. Jockstraps, on the other hand, will always be ugly with questionable stains.
- Non-runners will sit on the couch and call you crazy. Those folks, sadly, will never learn what their bodies are capable of. You, on the other hand, will die knowing you completely, totally, unabashedly used up the body that was loaned to you. That’s not crazy. That’s freakin’ awesome.
This weekend Garmin and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary together! So how does one celebrate such an occasion with a running device? Easy, by going for a run and then of course a candle lit home cooked meal! On the menu: grilled sirloin steak (mine topped with gorgonzola cheese), grilled veggies, mashed potatoes, gravy (oh yes I can, wait til you see my calories burned) and a glass or two of wine. Hey, we have endured a lot together in such a short period of time; plantar fasciitis, IT band issues, pulling out of marathon training, 3 1/2 marathons, 2 trail races, 1 Warrior Dash, 1 night race, a few dark days, a little RA damage, 4 pairs of runners, 2 boxes of hot shots, 1 1/2 tubes of Body Glide and 13 loops of Hayward Lake!
I will let the numbers speak for themselves, drum roll po-leeze…
|Trail Runs||Road Runs||Total|
|# of runs||100||82||182 Runs|
|Distance||834.09 km||632.67 km||1,466.76 km|
|Elevation Gain||19,016||6,999 m||26,014m|
These numbers do not include Beginner Run Clinics, Speed Training Clinics and a handful of Fall runs where we were not on speaking terms.
The best part, total calories burned 84,369 (3,500 cals/lb), that’s just over 24lbs! Now I know that this is not an exact number, it is a generic guess-timate by Garmin based on my age, height, weight, gender info. And while my weight may have fluctuated over the year by 5lbs or so (for the better), and I do consume more food than the average bear, it is easy to see how with little or no exercise one’s weight can creep up over the course of a year.
So here’s to you Garmin on this margarita Monday, cheers to another year of running bliss!
On our way to the trail this morning Conny, Colin and I met LaFawnduh. For those of you that didn’t get the reference (myself included), LaFawndah is a character from Napoleon Dynamite who has style, poise and access to sweet mixed tapes.
#3 highlight from this morning’s run was it being over! I will always pick a trail run over a road run, but today should have been an exception to my rule. Running in 8-10 inches of snow for 45 minutes was equivalent to running for 45 minutes flat footed with high knees on unstable ground, and I am going to pay dearly for it tomorrow.
#1 highlight from this morning’s run was the coffee and hot tub that followed! Tuesday mornings suck.
My first reaction to this photo of The Descendants’ Shailene Woodley wearing her Vibram Five Fingers to the InStyle Golden Globe Awards After Party was “EESH”. Fitness attire is fitness attire. But after thinking about it for a moment, maybe she really does have the right idea. Perhaps if I had considered this look before running the Vegas Rock ‘N’ Roll this past December, I wouldn’t have scars from from the nasty blisters I received from my inappropriate choice of footwear, and Miss M wouldn’t have had the maraschino cherry stem experience!
However, I still firmly believe that you should NEVER wear your running jacket to dinner, no matter how casual the restaurant is.
Dedication? Insanity? Nope, this morning was all about bragging rights, photo ops, Susa’s first run in the snow and Boston…we may not all be running it, but we certainly all seem to be training for it!
However you spent your morning, I hope it involved playing in the white stuff.
You don’t have to be a Personal Trainer to appreciate this video. Have a fantastic day!
Hopefully this is not you. Resolutions can be tough, January can be miserable and your mind can talk you out of anything…it can also talk you into almost anything!
If you are having trouble staying on track, or teetering on that wobbly line, hit the pause button, take a deep breath, pound a glass of water, shake out the cobwebs and get back at’er.
Have a look outside. And did you see the sunrise this morning? January weather on the west coast ain’t gonna get much better than this. And guess what? It’s going to be like this again tomorrow and Friday so put on your runners and get outside for a run, walk, hike or ride. Trust me, no amount of make-up will give you the healthy glow that you will receive from 30 minutes outside today (or tomorrow or Friday).
You don’t find outside appealing? Go to the gym. Yes, it’s a little crowded right now, but that makes it so much more exciting. There is so much to see and hear that you don’t need to bring something to read to get you through your time on the cardio machine. While at the Leisure Centre last night, not only did I get to hear some of the most x-rated sounds ever coming from the weight room, I also witnessed one of the swim club stretching in his Speedo (almost as x-rated as the moaning coming from the weight room)! So even if you are a newbie at the gym, you are going to just blend right in.
Some things to remember:
- Work the parts that you don’t see, because one day you will see them. It may be completely by accident, like when you are walking out of your bathroom in your underwear and turn and catch a glimpse of your hamstrings (backs of your legs) in the mirror and you think “Yikes, when did that happen?” Heed my warning. This also goes for working the parts that you don’t think that you use or really need to work. Runners need more than just strong legs, weight lifters need more than a strong upper body. A strong body is a balanced body.
- Set realistic and attainable 3 month goals. Write them down and know what you need to do daily/weekly to get there. If you want to run a marathon and currently aren’t a runner, a realistic and attainable 3 month goal would be to run train to run a 5km race injury free.
- Don’t starve yourself. I recently read a piece of advice that my friend Peter Shankman received from his trainer Ken Yim , “abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym”. So true, I love that! You have to eat my friends, fuel your fire. Never underestimate the power of a varied and well balanced diet. You want to keep the weight off once and for all? Healthy weight loss is 1-2lbs per week. 1lb = 3,500 calories. Create a 3,500 calorie deficit a week, 500 calories a day, by reducing your caloric intake (food) by 250 calories a day and increasing your caloric expenditure (exercise) to burn an additional 250 calories. Lose 2lbs? Create at 7,000 calorie deficit a week, it’s just that easy. Check out This is not a diet, but you will lose weight.
- If you are monitoring your weight, do so once a week; same scale and under the same circumstances (time of day, clothing, etc), my day of choice is Friday. As you start a work out regimen or modify your current plan you will burn fat but you will also build muscle, so judge how you are doing by the way your clothes fit.
- A workout should be work; if it were easy, everyone would do it.
- Have a reward for all of your hard work. Oh poor you, you are going to Mexico for Spring Break. Even if the reward was there before the action plan was and so what if it is going to happen if you don’t fully achieve your goal, always have something to strive towards.
- Shit and setbacks happen. Don’t let an evening (or weekend) of over indulgence or a few days without sweating ruin what you have already accomplished. Hit the pause button, take a deep breath, pound a glass of water, shake out the cobwebs and get back at’er!
Oh no, not me! Check out my New Year love gift from my very crafty (and witty) friend Lysa….
Did I mention that she has a fantastic website and blog (we also share a love for Wonder Woman)? Stop by and visit her at the Red Spotted Patch.