If you look back to my blog entry for Friday December 11th 2009 I wrote about barefoot running but only really in relation to the advantages from the weight saving point of view rather than as part of a debate about running gait and training shoe design.
Friday saw the arrival of a press release from offroad shoe company INOV 8 stating that......
" the running world has been awash (!?) with debate about barefoot running recently"....this was following a study in "NATURE", one of the World's leading scientific journals. In short the article queried the validity of a 12 Billion dollar industry. INOV 8's take on it was that they had been designing, manufacturing and supplying low profile trail shoes since 2003 and therefore were not part of the same school of thought as the major running companies with their air, gel, wedges etc etc.
I stated in that December blog that I had raced cross country for Lancashire in bare feet. In fact my fastest mile was recorded on a grasstrack in Wigan in barefeet.......4:26.....not too bad for a steeplechaser. But that aside surely the idea of barefoot running is totally unrealistic unless............
Your villa is a front line property on the coast. Shoeless, you exit your front door for the 30 metre walk to the beach. The path you walk down is covered by rose (coloured) petals forming a fragrant carpet. On reaching the golden sands, as always the firmness underfoot is perfect, washed smooth by a rhythmical action of the waves, no ripples to hinder progress. The beach stretches for miles into the distance. You look ahead and spy a few runners and walkers. No dogs are allowed on the beach which is cleared of seaweed and other debris everyday at dawn. You cover 6 miles on the pan flat sand. Forced onto your forefoot to maintain traction your style is steady and efficient. Your calves are well used to this mode of running now.
Turning inland, a short path leads you onto a delightfully, manicured golf course. You wave to the club President who has sanctioned your daily excursion on his hallowed turf.
Going past the club house at 4 miles a sandy path leads to the running track where tomorrow you will do your speed session. The tartan used has been especially developed to offer extra bounce and comfort for the barefoot runner. Since the 2010 barefoot running debate the surface is now used for all road races as well, on special circuits. These purpose built race courses have been laid by the government; funded by the millions of pounds saved in podiatry and physiotherapy treatment no longer necessary as runners have stopped wearing harmful running shoes thrust on them by multinational corporations.
You wake from your dream............and think about your run for the day and the surfaces you'll encounter...concrete, tarmac, parkland (!), thorns, pebbles, grit, stones, rocks, boulders.....
End of debate.
The run for today was a 4 mile jog on grass. If I was allowed to run on the hockey field I could have possibly run it shoeless. But on the adjacent playing field which is not quite so well looked after ...no way.