After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fitting a Square Peg Into a Round Hole

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: August 14, 2012

To be honest today, I feel like a square peg, that is trying to fit into a round hole, when it comes to minimalist running.

Since about November of last year I have attempted to run with more of a forefoot/full foot landing to my running style and use less shoe.


After a lot of research and thinking, I really and truly believe that running with more of a forefoot/full foot landing is a better way for me to run.

However, at some point during my runs, usually after 2-3 miles, my focus flags and my running form begins to revert back to a heel landing and by the time I am 5.0 miles or more into a run – I am a full-fledged heel striker again.

Do I do this consciously?


Changing my running style/form is one of those things in my running that I have worked very hard on over the past year and it seems that no matter what I do, this is what happens – I revert to landing on my heels when running. Short of hiring a running coach to train me to run differently, I have a feeling I am stuck with this running style that I have developed.

And yes I have run with no shoes on too this summer, so don’t go there, it hasn’t helped me.

Why is this a big deal now?

The Altra Instinct’s I am running in now are a GREAT running shoe and I really like them more than a lot! They seem like they would be that 500 mile shoe, I am looking for – if I really was more of a forefoot/full foot landing style of runner.

Unfortunately, they do not seem to be the right shoe for the way that I actually run (instead of the way that want or think that I run), especially once I get out beyond the 5 mile mark, when I tend to revert back to landing on my heels and pawing through my stride.

These shoes have a much lower stack height than I have run in, to go along with the zero drop.

From what I can tell, this change of shoe style does not have that bit of added protection and forgiveness that shoes like the Kinvara 2, Nike Free, Newton, etc. gave me, when I would revert back to a my heel landing running style.

Problem Solving Mode

The past couple of weeks I have battled discomfort/pain in my hamstrings and right hip, that hadn’t been problems before switching to the Altra’s. So over that time I have trying to figure out what is causing this, so that I can run without discomfort after these issues get resolved.

Going back through my running log, I noticed that I had some of the same aches and pains starting, when I tried running in the MT20 and MT110’s, which also have a very low stack height.

So I tried running in my Newton Gravity’s, since they are the only higher stack height shoes (more heel) I have around that are not worn out or that are not trails shoes. When I did the hamstrings and hip don’t bother me nearly as much during or after the run (they are still healing, so I expected some issues) and I was able to run a faster pace than with the zero drop shoes without discomfort.

It seems that it is what it is.

Even though I want to run with a forefoot/full foot running style – I don’t.

If I want to run in zero drop or other lower drop shoes styles, it seems that I need shoes, with a higher stack height, that offer more protection and forgiveness for when I start inevitably landing on my heels.

In other words I still need running shoes that can protect me from myself.
The reality is that

After yesterday’s run and reviewing all the video’s that I have taken of myself since last October, there is not much doubt that I continue to land on my heels more often than I land on my forefoot/full foot, when I am running.

Which really sucks and is pretty damn frustrating!

Especially since I have actively attempted to change my running style to a more forefoot/full foot.

So it isn’t the Altra’s fault that my hamstrings and hip are uncomfortable, it is that my running style doesn’t fit with a zero-drop, low stack height shoe. In other words I have tried fit a square peg into a round hole and it just ain’t working too well.

Which really sucks too, because I do like these shoes a lot. I have an idea that I will still run some in the Altra’s, but will keep them to the shorter runs.

From what I can tell it seems that for now, my sweet spot for running shoes is around 25-30MM stack height with 6-10MM drop. In other words a shoe that is designed more for a heel landing running style, but also works well with someone trying to land more towards the forefoot/full foot style of running.
Final Thoughts

Everyone runs with a different style and my style has more of a heel landing than I thought it did, which makes a low stack height running shoe difficult for me to run in without eventually having discomfort, due to the lack of forgiveness for when I do revert to landing on my heels.

I guess the lesson that I learned while reading Tread Lightly really applies to me here – “do what actually works for you – not what you want to work for you or works for someone else.”

Yep, I feel like a square peg, that is trying to fit into a round hole when it comes to changing my running style to be a forefoot/full foot running style. I have finally figured out that I need to stop worrying about trying to become more of a minimalist runner and instead work more on finding the shoes that work for me – whatever category they are listed in.

But I still plan to keep working towards the elusive forefoot/full foot landing, it is just taking a little longer than I expected.

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