Just when I thought the human race was showing signs of intelligence as it applied to the capitalist rip-off of the running shoe (‘coffin‘) industry, along comes the ‘maximalist’ (is this even a word???) running shoe ‘trend’ – what I call the balloon effect. I have been getting articles e-mailed to me about the introduction of the ‘super-cushioned, light-weight, ultra thick-soled’ shoe that is captivating a certain segment of the so-called ‘ultra-marathon’ running world. It also appears to be trickling down into the running enthusiasts who had a negative experience with the so-called minimalist zero-drop shoe transition.
Comments within the articles mention “more research is required before maximalist shoes can be classified as safer and more effective as running distances increase” and so on.
Well, let me tell you a few things about ‘research’.
With a Master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, I had to do a thesis that required 1 year of data collection, 3 months of statistical analysis, 3 months of writing and re-writing, 2 months of article preparation for publishing and a 3 hour thesis defense. At the end of the day, my statistician could have made the data come out any way my adviser wanted to give us the best shot at getting published. In other words, research, smesearch! It’s generally in the eyes of the analysts as to the outcome. Further, I don’t need peer review research on the effects of the maximalist shoe on the safety of running. I don’t know and I don’t care about the whole ‘trend’. What I DO know is that:
- humans are basically lazy
- humans will take the easy way out of virtually any situation
- humans are basically followers
- humans will jump on the latest ‘trend’ without understanding the consequences
As a result of the above traits, most humans do NOT:
- learn how to protect the body against the downward pull of gravity when running
- learn how to brace the whole core to land tight and light with each footfall
- learn how to symmetrically balance the body by activating the neuromuscular system from the feet up the legs through the gluteals into the upper body
- learn how to squat and scoot when running to AVOID heavy, uneven foot-strikes that break down the body and cause avoidable injury
This brings me back to the ‘ultra-marathon’ running world and their supposed initial attraction to maximalist footwear – or should I say the equivalent of putting balloons on your feet. If you are truly an ultra runner in the mold of the Tarahumara, the native Kenyans, the East Indians of Goa, the Sri Lankans of Colombo and so on, you do NOT need balloons on your feet. If you cannot run 150+ miles injury-free without stopping, then your FEET are NOT ready to do so. It’s as simple as that.
Where do you get off thinking the maximalist shoe is the answer??
Dig deeper and you will see that this is a new angle on an old theme of the running shoe industry ripping off the human race (pardon the pun). If we as a consuming people keep falling for the same tricks packaged differently, we will NEVER embrace tight, light, compact, forward squat/scoot running as the basis for safe, efficient, powerful movement against gravity.
Of course, the other thing we must do is quit being so DAMN LAZY and do the required preparation work to master quiet, safe running.
As a final salvo, I will add “ditch the coffins, ditch the balloons…and GET BAREFOOT if you are serious about running injury-free!!”