Runblogger covers many topics ranging from minimalist running, running shoe reviews, running biomechanics and tips to make you a better runner. A great balance between exercise science, personal thoughts with some fun thrown in the mix.
Healthynomics wold like to thank Pete for his time and also, congratulate him on qualifying for the Boston Marathon!
Healthynomics: You have written numerous posts on your blog about minimalist running and the barefoot running movement. Is this a fad or here to stay?
Pete Larson: I’m not a regular barefoot runner myself, though I have run barefoot on a few occasions and still incorporate some barefoot work in my training. My sense is that barefoot running as a full time practice is not going to ever be very widespread amongst runners, but I see no reason why those who enjoy doing it should not keep it up.
I certainly know a number of individuals who credit barefoot running with allowing them to regain an ability to run without pain, and barefoot is a great way to work on better running form if done in a careful and cautious way (i.e., not too much too soon!). It’s also great for strengthening the feet and legs, and has a long history of use among high level track and cross country runners. It will always have a place, at least as a part of an overall training repertoire.
My sense is that the minimalist movement is still growing, and given the significant buy in we are seeing on the part of the big shoe manufacturers, they clearly see a market for this style of shoe.
Saucony, for example, had a big hit with its Kinvara in 2010, and 2011 is going to see the arrival of a whole glut of minimalist shoes for consumers to choose from giant companies like New Balance and Merrell, as well as from small upstarts like Altra.
The success of these shoes will in large part determine whether or not minimalism will grow or whether it will fade away. However, just like barefoot running, many people have sent me testimonials reporting how moving to less structured shoes has allowed them to shed old running pains, and if this is any indication, I think minimalist shoes probably have earned a permanent spot in the running shoe market.
Increased variability in choice is good for everyone, and that is what I try to promote on Runblogger.
Minimalism may not be for everyone, but it certainly has paid big dividends for some, and it’s worth a try if your current style of shoe is not working out well for you.
HN: As you have taken to running in many different minimalist running shoes, tell us about how your running technique has changed.
PL: As recently as six months ago I was a self-proclaimed heel striker who didn’t really think it was all that necessary to change. However, as I began to read more and more stories from my friends and readers, my curiosity got the better of me, and I made a concerted effort this past summer to alter my stride to a midfoot landing. It felt awkward at first and it took a lot of work, but I now find that it feels normal, and it’s actually quite difficult in some shoes to go back to my old style of running.
There are times when I know that I still fall back into my old heel striking ways, particularly when I’m fatigued, but in shoes with a very low heel this is very hard to do. I don’t know that the change has made me any faster or more injury resistant, but it has been an interesting experiment nonetheless, and I have every intention to keep working and experimenting on my form for the foreseeable future.
HN: All runners hate it when they get injured. Tell us about a couple of running injuries you have had and how you overcame them.
PL: I’ve been remarkably lucky in that I haven’t suffered any serious injuries since I started running higher mileage about 3.5 years ago. I get aches and pains like any runner, but being smart about letting my body rest usually takes care of most issues without much trouble. I did make the mistake of wearing a new pair of shoes that were a bit narrow for my feet in a marathon this past Fall, and wound up straining something in my foot in the process.
I took a good 5-6 days off after the marathon, but the pain recurred on my first run back. I tried a shoe with a bit of a heel lift for a few runs, and that did the trick to allow me to run without pain. Things cleared up by the end of the second week, and I’m now back into my more normal minimalist shoe rotation. One of my strategies to avoid injury is to run in shoes that vary somewhat in their properties – I feel that by mixing things up I can minimize repetitive stress caused by any one shoe, and this has worked well for me so far.
HN: What types of cross-training do you do?
PL: Very little actually. As a parent of three small children I’m lucky to even have time to run, so when I get a few free moments, I put on my shoes and go. As the kids get older I’d love to incorporate more diversity into my training, but those days are still a long way off.
HN: Do you listen to music when you train? Any favorite singers / bands?
PL: Sometimes I bring along an iPod, sometimes I like to just listen to my surroundings. I often run at night, and for safety purposes I never wear headphones when it’s dark. When I do listen to music, I typically listen to stuff by Arcade Fire, The National, Eddie Vedder, The Airborne Toxic Event, and The Decemberists to name a few.
HN: What are your favorite running gadgets?
PL: I love my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS watch. I’m a data junkie, so I love to record pacing information, running routes, elevation profiles and so forth and record them in SportTracks and on the great social training site dailymile.com. It’s not a gadget per se, but I’m also addicted to Twitter – there’s a great running community on Twitter, and I’ve made some good friends through the site.