Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Natural Running Transition


I’ve been transitioning over to natural running for about the last seven years. It started at a trail marathon expo back in 2004 where my wife and I met a sales rep from inov-8. We had never heard of this shoe line. Both of us being former running specialty store owners we were skeptical at first of minimalist footwear. I almost walked away from the spiel about their shoes but I’m glad to this day that I stayed around and listened. A year later I was racing for Team inov-8 and I have exclusively trained and raced in inov-8 shoes since that day.

At first mentally this was not an easy process for me. I was a heel striker back then. I have very flat feet and I’m bow legged. I fit the old shoe industry bill to a “T” for stability or even motion controlled types of running shoes, ugh! However I wanted to wear lighter and less supportive foot wear because of the improved feel and edge you get in running fast. At that time I thought I was doomed and relegated to wearing heavy supportive trainers. I was also consistently getting overuse running injuries. So I was quite nervous at first but still willing to try something new to change my chronic cycle of downtime from running.

The transition to natural running for me has been quite long but definitely well worth it. For some runners it does take time for your body mechanics to adjust to running in shoes with less support and much less heel to forefoot drop. I strongly believe that almost any runner can transition over to natural running, if they are careful and patient. Every runner is different and some can transition rather quickly especially if they have good bio-mechanics. While some runners just like me need to be a little more patient and do it slowly. Yes seven years is a long time but definitely worth it. I feel like I’m still somewhat on a journey to the zero drop running shoe one day. I’m comfortable now in a 3-6 mm heel to forefoot drop shoe even for ultra distances. What I am most ecstatic about is I have had far fewer running injuries since my transition to minimalist footwear.

The great thing about the inov-8 line is you have many choices to start you on your journey to natural running. If you are used to supportive running shoes you may need to start at the 9-12 mm heel or 3-4 arrow inov-8 models first. Unfortunately most runners are not all that patient; much like my self but running natural has huge benefits. The main benefit for me has been being healthy and running every day. I am no longer a heel striker, I’m more of a mid-foot to forefoot striker now. If you ever try running barefoot on grass you will tend to land more towards your toes regardless of what you do while wearing running shoes. This is a much more natural way to run. This type of running is so much more efficient since it was the way we were intended to run. In addition you are using less energy to lift shoes that are lighter, something runners should appreciate at any distance.

I feel that inside all of us is a natural more efficient runner. Try letting your feet function the way nature intended without being inhibited by the structure of your footwear. If a cowboy like me can go natural, having the bio-mechanics that mirror a horse rider, so can any runner. 
Thank you inov-8!

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