Category Archives: Equipment

Low Drop, Medial Post or Torsional Stability

After the experiment with Newton shoes, I’m left wondering about just what went wrong… I think the jury’s still out about ‘blaming’ the shoes as such, there are too many variables involved.

It could have been due to simple overuse. The week of the original injury, I was peaking my run miles and my overall training hours, but to have tibialis pain, and the same pain bilaterally seems more equipment related to me. The thing is, I was doing most of my mileage in an older pair of Asics 2160, which my son had previously been using for gym class, and I had then put 700km on them. So, they were possibly worn out (though I expect to put 1000km+ on a pair of running shoes). I had been running pace runs in Newton Motion and was really happy with how they felt, but looking at the soles, there is wear on the outer edge midfoot, and the outer lug is worn, probably unbalancing the shoe, and that’s after only 325km.

That’s the thing with lightweight shoes though, you blow through them at a fair rate, and given that you generally need to transition to them, you can’t save them only for racing in – you have to train in them to.

Trying the Newtons 100% after the race caused additional injury problems, but again, I’d be reluctant to blame the shoes – I had just run an ironman marathon and was pre-injured. Not an ideal time to be transitioning to radical new shoes.

I’ve been running in Asics 2xxx shoes for decades. If it wasn’t just overuse / worn out shoes, what else contributed to the injuries? Was it the low drop, going from 12mm to 3mm? The Motions have a medial post, the denser bit of midsole to help prevent excessive rolling inwards of a pronating ankle, so I don’t think that was the issue. What’s most likely in my book just now is torsional stability.

Some folks have talked about the ‘Taco Test’, where you simply fold a prospective shoe in half to see where it bends, ball of the foot or mid-foot. Some shoes have a solid bit of plastic mid-foot to prevent this, some don’t. Those without feel more ‘natural’, like the Newtons. It’s woth noting that my previous race shoes, Asics Sky Speed, have the torsional rigidity but no medial post, and I raced all last season with no issues in them.

However, I tried the Newon Sir Isaac S, which should have been a perfect training shoe for me. Wide toebox, 4.5mm drop, medial post and torsional rigidity. Should I have persevered with them? Fact is, I’ve had the Asics GT-2000 for a week and have managed a consistent run week. Am I content to stick with these forever as my everyday trainers? Should I keep trying to find a lower drop, less ‘built’ shoe to wean myself off them? Is it worth loosing another race season over?

Pronators Shall Inherit the Earth

Planet Earth, many eons ago…

Bongo, hair carefully tied back with elk intestine, dreads long but aerodynamically swept back, left the cave for the brightness of a blue sky morning. He took a deep breath, surveyed the horizon, limbered up a little and set off running into the sun.

His lean frame moved easily, bare feet touching and releasing the ground, breath unfettered by the movement of arms and legs. He ran in search of food, knowing that he could outlast even the swiftest of antelope. Not letting them rest, keeping them moving, until at last, they would lay down, exhausted, and surrender to his endurance.

Bongo ran, wiry, strong and co-ordinated. Bones following tendons following muscles in the merry linear dance carrying him to the last waltz of destiny.

***

Thumper left the cave shortly afterwards, scratching head and groin simultaneously, just in time to see Bongo cresting a sharp rise 50 gnu lengths away down the valley. Adjusting his kit and caboodle, he let out a resigned sigh and started shuffling off in the same direction.

Picking up the pace slightly, his was not the graceful lope of his compatriot. He appeared to have picked up the ticks and oddities of a generation of runners. One hand flicked out each stride as if hailing a taxi millenia in the future – how could he know? Head nodding, gurning face, tongue making a brief appearance. Each footfall was followed by a slow collapse; ankle falling inward, knee tilting, hip, arm and shoulder leaning precariously, only to be hauled back upright by the push off. And repeat. He still covered some ground, it just involved more huffing, and a fair degree of puffing.

50 gnus later he reached the base of the rise and wryly started the climb, only to be pulled short by a searing pain in his calf. Had he been gored by a vengeful wildebeast? No. Another pulled muscle. Another failed mealtime. The hopes and dreams of a successful hunter dashed on the rocks of his failing physiology. “Bugger this for a game of soldiers”, he cursed. And limped back to base.

***

On the way back home, Thumper noticed a couple of small, edible animals grazing on the cave’s lawn, and a lighbulb came on (though it would be countless generations before someone realised what this actually was). “What if, instead of running around the countryside, I were to stick some leftover whalebones into the ground, and string some Barbed Wire Vine between them, keeping those Roasts close to home”, he thought “and, when the notched stick says it’s Sunday, I can just go outside and bonk one on the bean!”. Brilliant.

The Barbed Wire Vine collection gave his bare feet some grief, but after the first domesticated Roasts was rendered into its constituent parts, he had the idea of strapping some horny hide to his feet. That fixed that particular thorny problem, and then he discovered that wedging some whale blubber under his instep solved another… he was running upright, and straight, no more listing to one side or the other. Calves, knees and hips recovered, until one day as he left the cave with nothing better to do – Roasts munching contendedly, lentil trees coming into blossom – “I think I’ll go for a quick run”, he thought, “just for fun”.

And so… Thumper Eddison, cave dweller, nouveau pastoralist and inventor of the HornyHide Super Gel Max 6 running shoe marked his place in the annals of human history.

Meanwhile, Bongo the Magnificent, after speeding across the plains for several days in hot pursuit of a hot meal, misjudged his stopping distance and followed his bisonic prey over the edge of a cliff.

***

Which all goes to illustrate that when proponents of minimalist shoes give you the “generations of runners didn’t need arch support” argument, you can point them to this cautionary tale.

Me, I think I’ll go back to my trusted Asics GT-2000 and put aside all foolish notions of low drop, lightweight, “I like to feel the earth, man” shoes.

Or not. The search continues…