Ask not which shoes are right but ask which shoes are the least wrong.
OK, that doesn’t scan but I really need a tweak in my mindset. The problem is that we live in a consumer society where whenever we have a problem, we can spend our way of it. If we get injured when we run, just spend, spend, spend until we have the shoes that sort that out for us.
We all like to think we are immune to these consumer pressures but nevertheless I seem to have been on a quest for the perfect footwear. I have been trying to find the silver bullet that will sort out all my problems.
The answer is simple. They don’t exist.
Deep down, I know that but it didn’t stop me trying to find the magic shoe that will make me injury free. I went on the hunt for the thinnest sole, the firmest sole and then the sole that shaped itself to my foot.
None of them really helped.
They altered my form to one degree or another. In fact, they all altered my form. I know that I am never going to get a shoe that allows me to run the way I do unshod.
That has not stopped me craving them
I crave shoes for many reasons and not always sensible ones. The shoe manufacturers know that. They know that we often buy on an emotional level and if they can tap into that then they are onto a winner.
If I were selling shoes, I would do the same thing. As consumers we understand that …sort of.
I can’t be the only one. I know plenty of barefoot runners who have many more pairs of shoes now than they ever had in their conventional shod running days.
I craved huaraches because…..they were so cool and I had read Born to Run. I wanted original Lunas because of the leather and traditional feel. I couldn’t help myself. I sent to the US for a pair and they felt fast. I love them but they do alter my form a little. I now have a pair of tradional huaraches made from old tyre and leather from the Copper Canyons. They are very cool and they connect me with the Copper Canyons but they still make me run in a different way.
I craved Runamocs because ….they are mocassins and handmade. It was an emotional pull. They kindly sent me a pair to try out and I wear them all the time but not much for running. I have run in them and they are excellent, they are just such an expensive and beautiful mocassin that I couldn’t bring myself to trash them on the muddy trails near home. I wear them out and about and round the house on cold days.
I craved VFF because….they are reassuringly expensive. That must mean that they are excellent musn’t it. Well no, as it turned out. Not for me anyway. They are beautifully made and you can see where the money goes. They have such a huge following of dedicated runners that I had to have some. My form is just not good enough yet to handle big distances in them. They are not the solution to my problem and there is no point thinking that they might be.
The solution lies with me. I ran in Treksport for a while and they altered my form quite alot. Now I have some EL-X which feel like they have been sprayed onto my foot and alter my form much less. I enjoy running in them but I need to be careful not to do too much.
I craved Paleos because….they are shiny and gadget like. When Jorg sent me a pair, I found out that they were much more than that. They have the firmest footbed imaginable. It is stainless steel and they move with the contours of my feet. On rough ground, I have to slow down in them because I feel almost every stone. Maybe that is why they feel like they don’t alter my form much…but they do a little.
So…what is the right question?
Is my running form good enough to handle these shoe yet? …and…What makes me think that?
I have experimented and found that some footwear alters my form to a lesser degree but have yet to find one that doesn’t cause me a niggle now and again.
From a purely personal point of view, the ones that seem to be the least wrong for me are:
Vivobarefoot Evos – The first minimalist shoes I tried. I like mine slightly small with the insole removed. That way they hug my feet. They are like old friends.
Xeros – I find the 4mm Xeros about as good as they get. I enjoy running in mine and like the way they flex with my soles.
Sockwa – Easy to slip on and off and carry on a run.
Walsh Barefoot – When it get steep and slippy then I reach for these. I find that I hardly get any niggles when running in them. Great on the hills.
Paleobarefoot – Chain mail is cool and they are no gimmick. They are thin, firm and they work very well for me. They are the most flexible and I like the way your feet feel the wet and the cold.
Even so, if I don’t run barefoot regularly, these shoes do not solve my problem. My running form just isn’t good enough and secure enough to handle footwear too much and too often.
So…Stop looking for the shoe that will solve all your problems. Ask which shoe is least wrong and take it from there.
Before you splash the cash, ask yourself if your form is good enough to handle the shoes you are buying and then ask why you think that.
I am not against footwear. I enjoy running with something on my feet. That means that I am prey to the consumer messages out there. So long as I accept that the answer lies with me and not with a shoe designer then I reckon that is OK.
Just do it – Just don’t do it in shoes if you think that they are the thing that makes you run well. It is what is inside the shoe that counts.
ps – I have added a topic to the forum asking how many of us have more shoes now than before we began barefooting and which shoes are the least wrong for you. I would love you to join in and let us know here. You can login in easily with facebook.