sole of a runner...

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I have never considered myself a shoe fashionista – in fact I am quite the opposite – stilettos gather dust atop my cupboard only to sparkle & shine when my daughter and her friends beg to play dress up. Instead, the bottom of my cupboard has mary-jane crocs, flip-flops and some boots – AND just recently upon inspection, I realized that my sneakers take up MORE THAN HALF the space!!! Suffice it to say I have become a running shoe aficionado!

The act of running has the potential to change your life in more ways than you can possibly imagine…weight loss and stress reduction, courage, discipline & perseverance. And for me, one of the many changes of my running self – the birth of a shoe girl. For as long as I can remember my mom, by default, will ask me on my way out the door “are you going to wear ‘those’ shoes?” – sloppy, no heel, void of color. I never cared about the bottom half on my attire, shoe color is always black or brown, and never anything fancy like patent leather or bejeweled.  Well, TADA look at me now… from not caring about what adorns my feet in the world of fashion to an obsession with what my feet FEEL like when I am in my running shoes – the topic of shoes has held much conversation in my home in the last year. Talk & debate with my husband about the barefoot movement, full-foot verse heel striking and heel to toe platform drop – my head is full of shoe talk – what a 360 degree turn from my former non-running self.

I have explored many types of running shoes on the road to my beautiful black sleek Merrel Pace Glove (and yes, to my mom’s dismay, my Merrel’s have become part of my non-running attire too when I wear them with skirts and jeans)

Over the course of one year:

  • clunky stiff New Balance Abzorb were replaced with
  • motion control Asics Gel-Nimbus (with custom orthodics) to
  • Newton Action/Reaction Technology to
  • Saucony Kinvara with minimal midsole construction to
  • Vibram Five Fingers running Bikila model,
  • and now my favorite, Merrel Pace Glove with Vibram® soles.

With each shoe, the muscles in my feet were asked to do MORE, and the shoe asked to do LESS. Hey….it is my body, my feet, my run!

Our feet are our connection to the ground. The more I ran and read about running, the more I LONGED for this connection.  A solid stable link to the earth helps us feel rooted and grounded. I need to feel the road –  to know where my feet are hitting, to know where my feet are landing in relation to my center of mass and to feel what my toes are doing (curled up, pushing off, relaxed?). There is so much literature on minimalism and the science and practice of reducing your shoe – the less is more theory! So do your homework and make up your own mind, but do not go out and run 5 miles in five fingers or run barefoot in hopes of improving your running! The same approach to ChiRunning applies to shoe selection: GRADUAL PROGRESS! Danny, founder of ChiRunning says:” educate your feet and your body to move properly again….and as the fluidity in your technique improves you’ll begin to NEED less of a shoe.” Start out with a little bit less of a shoe, practice your form, feel the earth, listen to your body.  Run.  When it is time for another shoe (about 300 miles) get even less of a shoe….practice your form, feel the earth….and so on. Quick tip: look at the bottom of your shoe to see where the rubber is wearing, this is a good indication of wear your feet are “hitting’ the road.

Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 muscles, 31 joints and over 100 ligaments. Love the feet you are in! Treat them well and surprisingly the rest of your body will be happy too.

Ahhh the complexities of the runner’s SOLE and the questioned mind for “as we run, we become.”