I’ve just got back from a lovely PB-worrying 10k, one of those runs where everything falls into place and there’s a perfect balanc
e between “blimey this is hard work” and “I could do this all day”. If every run was like this one, everyone would do it.
This will be my last day of waffling on about my minimalist experiment with the Skechers GoBionic. So, was it a success, or will I just go back to running in whichever shoes are closest to the front door, be they Asics, Mizuno or frog wellies?
You know what? I’m still in two minds on them. A huge plus point for me was the moment I realised that I didn’t actually need to adapt my technique as much as I’d first thought. My initial mistake had been in trying too hard, like someone wearing a tuxedo to a job interview, as I forced my legs into a grotesque parody of forefoot running. Once I let go of that and just ran in whatever way felt natural, things just seemed to more or less take care of themselves. While my distances have taken a self-imposed pounding while I slowly ease into the new shoes, my speed is back on track, and at this rate there should be a couple of shibby new PBs just around the corner. I’ve heard a lot of talk about this running style being much kinder on the legs, making you less susceptible to injury. While it’s still a little too early to call, one thing I have noticed is that the tightness that was beginning to creep into my hips and glutes after runs has now completely vanished, so that’s a promising sign. Moving up the body, I’ve also found that I’ve become less inclined to hunch over or sit back on my hips while running than I did when I was heelstriking. As I type this, it’s just occurred to me that those last two things are almost certainly linked. Only took me a few weeks to work that one out; On my next blog post I’ll be exploring the correlation between falling in a duckpond and that strange sensation of dampness and furious quacking.
But there has to be a “but” doesn’t there? Because this blog just wouldn’t be the same without a healthy dose of doubt. I love the shoes. I love the way that they’re so light I keep them under a rock at night to stop them floating off while I sleep. I love their fit, their roomy toe-box, the way they flex. I love the fact that they’re made by Skechers, a brand that hasn’t been considered remotely fashionable since 1996, which means that by wearing them I’m rooting for the plucky underdog. So then, it’s not the shoes themselves that I have reservations about, but the whole minimalist ethos. If I’m honest, the transition to forefoot running has been hard work at times, and part of me misses the simplicity that I enjoyed before I even knew about the different kinds of footstrike. While these last few runs have indicated that forefoot running will almost certainly bring long-term benefits, I’ve been getting the occasional pang of nostalgia for just throwing myself out the door and plodding away, completely oblivious to anything remotely sciencey. On a positive note, this crippling fear of commitment means that it’s almost guaranteed that Hollywood will base a romcom character on me in the very near future (although knowing my luck, he’ll be played by Adam Sandler and I’ll have to kill myself).
So, I’ve spent the last half-dozen blog posts waffling on about these shoes and still failed to come up with anything conclusive. I’ll certainly keep wearing them, but perhaps try to gently ease myself into a forefoot style over time, rather than going cold turkey. Ideally, while the internet is a great resource, I’d like to get a running coach to take a look at my gait and make sure I’m doing it right (which is yet another reason to get off my bum and join a club). I have a tendency to cobble together a rough understanding of things and simply hope for the best, which probably goes some way to explaining the garage full of space-rocket parts and the third-degree burns.
Thanks for putting up with my waffle this week. If you want more of the same, well, frankly you’re a bit odd. But you can follow me on twitter (@borntoplodblog). I promise not to send you any pictures of cats.
If you want to read a proper review of these shoes, you could do a lot worse than having a look at this