Oakland Marathon Runner: Nick Cifuentes
March 23, 2011 by Nick Cifuentes
Only a week away, and each second seems to be moving faster than the other. Normally I don't get over-excited about marathons, being more a longer distance type of runner, but for this last week of training the Oakland Marathon stands as my final prize in my barefoot running quest.
When I started running 12 years ago, I never thought about what I actually put on my feet. I would think more of the race, my training, the distance, and a number of other factors that seem to pile up as runner's trudge through the daily grind. Probably the most important factor-shoes, was almost an afterthought when I started this as my 'other career'.
I think something most people don't consider when they run, are the two mittens that wrap their feet, they help in so many ways, and no one thinks how shoes can actually make you a stronger, faster, and a more efficient runner.
Something of a recent trend that has hit the running scene over the past few years has been the idea of the 'barefoot' or 'minimalist' movement. Not many individuals think of running barefoot; the glass, rocks, something I'll step on - "what good is that going to do me?!"
I agree. Completely. You won't catch me dead wearing no shoes at all running on trails or asphalt. Even a track, the chances of stepping on something that would cause major injury are just not worth it. However, you will see me in a pair of VIVOBAREFOOT shoes, the results are just too good to pass up.
Let's talk about barefoot running for a second. The human mechanics of running are changed quite significantly when shoes are used – with natural, shoeless human running, the lateral edge of the forefoot is the part which strikes the ground with the most force. Running in padded shoes typically alters this as more emphasis is placed on the heel and the area towards the back of the foot.
Barefoot running is healthier for the feet and reduces risk of chronic injuries, and repetitive stress injuries due to the impact of heal striking in padded running shoes. Research and studies are constantly being done, and while many remain skeptic, it's important to recognize the benefits. That being said, how can runners manipulate these benefits, yet still keep their toes protected enough to avoid the common injuries associated without wearing any shoes.
Shoe companies have begun to realize and take action over the past several years. They realized that shoes that mimic the biomechanics of barefoot running may lead to fewer running injuries due to the differences in collision/impact of the foot-ankle-leg on the running surface.
Simply put, the foot was made to run and land on the ball of the foot. Shoes, with too much padding, impede the foot's natural motion and the arch and lower leg are not able to absorb the shock of the landing, and the shock is sent up through the heel to the knees and hips.
Shoes like VIVOBAREFOOT offer up that comfort of a running shoe that allows your foot to take advantage of all the benefits 'barefoot' running has to offer.
Whether you are a trail runner or road runner, short distance, marathon, or ultramarathon runner, these shoes will simply make you a better, more efficient runner. If you haven't already tried these out, it's worth a shot; I promise you'll be addicted.
I'll be testing my distance with this next week while I run the Oakland Marathon in my own @vivobarefoot shoes.
Check back on this blog after the race and see all the results!
Nick Cifuentes is an endurance runner with more than 50+ ultramarathons, marathons, and half marathons under his belt. He's been running for the past 12 years, and hasn't stopped since. You can catch up with him on his TheRunningFool.com blog and on Twitter.