Does the book ‘Born to Run’ + Minimal Trainers = Running Greatness?

Have you read ‘Born to Run’…..You should read ‘Born to Run’……..’Born to Run’ is a great book.

If one more runner says that to me, I will scream! As a matter of fact, I have indeed read said book and yes it was good. However, I am not 100% convinced and still have reservations about this whole barefoot thing. If god designed us to run barefoot. Did he also foresee tarmac and concrete? Does the makeup of ground even matter?

I am a neutral runner and a trainer harlot. By that I mean I jump from brand to brand looking for the ultimate trainer. But what is the ultimate trainer? Is there such a thing?

I suffered from a bad leg break in my late teens and since then my knee has never been the same. However, it has never prevented me from running. That said after really pushing hard for a long period (over 15+ miles) my knee does ached and I do get the odd niggle. So after reading ‘born to run’ I jumped on the band wagon and decided that if I go minimal I will not only wave goodbye to knee pain but I will get PB after PB and my running will totally transform.

So I decided to change my running form. I was a mid to heel striker but decided I needed to run more like Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebrselassie and forefoot strike. How did I do this, I hear you ask!
Well totally the wrong way is the answer and how I escaped major injury is anyone’s guess. I decided to run all my runs forefoot and not let my heel touch the ground whatsoever. Now this is easy for a half a mile but you try doing it for 10+ miles in one hit. A – you have to really concentrate and B – Your calves take an absolute hammering C-you look like a ballerina.

Anyway this ridiculous method continued for 3 to 4 weeks until, I just could not take it anymore. My calves constantly ached and I mean really ached. BUT after this, I forgot how I ran normally. My stupid method somehow had developed itself to a good forefoot /midfoot running form. I was even picked by a guest running form coach that visited our club as an example. For the record my heel does now make contact with the ground for a brief period. Running like a ballerina is NOT recommended!

This change of form then led to my journey to minimal trainers. I am still in transition and learning all of the time. I have never had any knee pain again since losing the inch of rubber underfoot. However, I have started to suffer from aches to my toe joints. This is mainly due to over striding i.e. landing too much on forefoot / toe box area. So I need to remember to shorten stride and keep cadence up around the 180 mark.

Be warned, losing the inch of rubber combined with a zero heel drop does make you want to run like a middle distance runner and you need to remember not to suddenly resort to springy running.

So are minimal shoes the magic formula that ‘born to run’ claims or are they Emperor’s new clothes’?

The truth is, I still don’t know. But what I do know is since wearing minimal shoes with zero drop. I feel my form has greatly improved, I run more efficiently and I love feeling the ground on every stride (bit hippy I know). Is this just coincidence? Who knows but I am getting quicker!

I am still very much work in progress on the minimal front and hope to keep you posted on my full transition to minimal shoes and hope to keep you updated. My goals this year are a Sub 1:30 in the Mizuno Reading Half and a Sub 3:15 Brighton Marathon. Hopefully my new choice of trainer the Mizuno Evo will be the weapons I need to achieve these and by the end of April I will have this minimal thing nailed.

By the way if you haven’t read ‘born to run’? you should 😉

Scott Bosh