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Is Running Slow Safely Safer than Running Hard After Safely Securing Safe, Yet Expensive, Running Shoes?

If you’re scratching your melon at the Title question, well, it’s not you.

There is nothing I disdain more than presenting an argument that is the exact opposite of the truth, then supporting said argument with false evidence that is spun to make it appear real, to prove a point that isn’t possible in the first place.

President Trump, call the Oval Office. Or the President of Ukraine. Or something.

I read a post a while back that proposed running barefoot or, at the very most with minimalist shoes, was better for one’s feet than running in expensive, padded running shoes, that running in “expensive”, heavily padded shoes causes more injuries. My jaw hit the left-click button on my laptop. Especially with the “barefoot” part. I used to follow the blog of a woman who was trying to run barefoot. She claimed it better connected her to the earth. Well, she wasn’t wrong. Several lacerations and overuse injuries, she’d spent more time nursing injuries than running. It was a horror show. She was persistent, though. I’ll give her that.

This re-jiggering of reality was first presented in Born to Run, where the author tried to claim that shoe companies were cashing in and bilking runners whilst, and at the same time, hurting them because of their overindulgence of padding the foot, which in turn cushioned the blow to the body’s joints and muscles. That allowed people to run faster than they should run, therefore causing injuries. The additional claim was that the padding of said shoe related to the price. The post I read linked to this post.

The minimalist craze was born! And minimalist shoes, with no padding to blunt the shock to the body, came out… and they were the same price, or more that their padded brethren. You couldn’t have made it up. Oh, the Vibrams! The ugliest damned thing ever to be put on a foot… well, that may be a little over the top, but not much.

And then running injuries increased exponentially. Too many runners, new to the minimalist craze, tried to do too much, too fast for their muscles to handle the extra load.

Including this guy.

I tried minimalist running for exactly 1.25 miles. I’d gone less than a mile before pulling the plantaris muscle in my upper calf (just behind the knee). I went another quarter of a mile trying to see if the pain would go away. It didn’t, and a trip to the doctor was in order. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any more time, but you can bet I immediately went back to running with normal running shoes.

See, here’s the real, no BS truth; running with minimalist shoes really is marginally safer, because the shock of running hurts so f***in’ bad, you actually have to change how you run to be able to run more than once a month. This requires one slow way down and build up speed over a series of months, or even a year because the muscle groups fire different for front foot striking.

The horse-pucky in the study, however, arrives when you count the break-in period. The number of running injuries during that time, if one makes just a simple mistake in foot fall, are through the roof – and the report in question even says this is the case, it just pretties up the language to lull the reader to sleep and then tosses the baby out with the bathwater, as they say.

In other words, something stinks – and it ain’t high-priced running shoes.

This leads us to the most important lesson, however. Having been a runner myself, now fully enmeshed in cycling, because it’s way more awesome; buy a bike. You won’t have to worry about who’s fleecing you and why. EVERYTHING is expensive in cycling… and as long as you don’t get squished by a car, taken out by a friend, or a deer, or a charging pitbull, or a runaway squirrel, or struck by lightening… Um… well, it’s usually much better on your body.

PS. That’s the same look on my face when I pass a runner with that wrinkled up expression of pain and suffering stretched across their face. It’s saying, “I feel your pain, my friend… but only as a memory.”