Confession. I am a recovering minimalist shoe zealot. I now run in Hokas. Cue riotous laughter.
I was watching this hilarious video that Heidi from our Operation Move group shared and other than having a good laugh, there was one thing that stuck out to me.
“Find out what heel-toe drop works for you and then become a snob about it”
Which really, you could apply to almost anything. For anyone uninitiated into the land of heel-toe drop it’s the difference between a shoe’s heel height and toe height. So zero drop means they are the same height. In a traditional shoe the heel would be about 10-12mm higher than the toe. Minimalist shoes have zero drop and low drop of around 4-6mm are often a way to introduce someone who has been used to a traditional shoe to zero drop or for people who have had shin splints as they encourage a midfoot or forefoot strike.
See? The fact that I even contain all of that information in my head probably means I’m overly invested in the whole heel-toe-drop thing.
It starts off with finding out what works for you
I didn’t start off as a minimalist shoe zealot. I started off by running in the wrong shoes for me and got horribly injured. It took 6 months of physio and re-training to get back to where I was. I had shin splints so severe that I could barely walk, let alone run. For me, the thing that worked was zero drop, minimalist shoes and retraining to a fore-foot strike.
Soon, your solution solves everyone else’s problem
You know what runners hate more than anything? Getting injured. So if there is any information that you have that could help someone not get injured like you were, you are going to try to help them out. So I’m sure a whole heap of people had to listen to me babble on about how minimalist shoes were the cure to absolutely everything. And they were for me at that point, but that doesn’t mean they would work for anyone else.
And after that, it can go somewhere you don’t want to go
If you keep going with that, I hate to say it, but you become a bit of a snob. You start throwing around words like natural running, barefoot running, as your body was intended to run, like it’s better than any other form of running. I’ll give you a hint: it’s not. The best type of running is the running that you enjoy and helps you to stay healthy, happy and not injured. And this applies to almost everything. Running with music (or not), whether you wear compression during a run or just for recovery or not at all, whether you wear a skirt, shorts or tights, whether you prefer short distances or long distances, whether you are slow or fast or whether you use gels or nuts or whatever else to fuel your run.
No one wants to be that person and no one likes to be around them
You know what is supposed to be the best thing about sport? It’s inclusiveness. And all that passion for helping others has somehow morphed it’s way into snobbery and judgement that actually intimidates people into not being a part of that thing that we all love in the first place.
And one day you will find yourself in population hypocrite, population you.
What was great for me about minimalist shoes is that I was able to re-train after shin splints. What was not great is that my hips didn’t love the lack of cushioning on long runs. When I mentioned this to a few people at the time I got the whole minimalist spiel about how you can’t jump up distances too quickly and minimalist engages your natural suspension system and how it wasn’t the shoes, it was me. And seeing it from the outside I could see, that’s really not helpful or accepting of different experiences. I could see myself in that too, which wasn’t very nice.
My learning curve was that I kept the zero or low heel-toe drop in my shoes because that was the thing that helped my shin splints (not as I originally thought the lack of cushioning) but I added maximum cushioning. Hokas. I love them far more than it is appropriate to love a shoe, even a running shoe. I also have Altras which are great as well. So how did that minimalist zealotry work out for me? Not so much.
Snobbery has no place in running. There is too much awesome.
I’m sure you agree. So now I try to listen a little bit more. I think it’s working out for me.