Ouchouchouchouch. Well, that was weird. Not unpleasant, but certainly unusual.
I’ve just got in from my first outing in the Skechers GoBionic, a steady-paced couple of miles just to test the water. The first thing I realised about minimalist shoes was that, contrary to what I’d allowed myself to imagine, they don’t magically transform you into a forefoot striker. No, what they actually do is highlight just how bone-jarringly awkward a heelstrike can be so that you do everything in your power to run more on the mid or forefoot. I should really point out that landing on the heel isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the foot lands under the hips rather than way out in front (or in the hungry bear enclosure of your local zoo). But in terms of injury prevention and efficiency of movement, the consensus seems to be that forefoot is the cat’s pyjamas. Anyway, back to the run…
I’ve read quite a bit recently about good running form and correct forefoot technique. But this was all forgotten the very instant I tied my laces and headed outside: “I don’t need technique” I thought to myself as I hurtled clumsily forward, “I have magic shoes”. The next 20 minutes involved a degree of physical awkwardness so severe that it almost went all the way through awkward and out the other side into flawless grace. Almost, but not quite. Rather than the effortless glide I’d hoped for in my minimalist imaginings, I found myself bounding along on my tiptoes, my knees occasionally sproinging (real word) up around my ears with the force of the rebound. I’m eternally grateful for the lack of mirrors on that short route; I must have looked like I was clumsily trying to sneak up on someone a long way away.
Two-and-a-bit miles later I returned home, sweaty but alive. I’ve now taken my first few steps in minimalist shoes, and my legs haven’t fallen off. This might just work.