I’m re-reading Kelly Starret’s ‘Ready to Run’ at the moment and there’s so much great stuff here that I’m going to share some of it.
Starret teaches a performance-based running system built around restoring muscular balance, natural motion and daily self maintenance. The book is his practical guide to life-long, injury-free running.
There’s 12 standards that need to be meet before someone is ‘Ready to Run’. Over the next few days I’ll summarise them. So get ready for a series of posts that absolutely nobody has asked for (except me!).
Today: Neutral Feet & Flat Shoes
Standard #1: Neutral Feet
A neutral foot position means your foot is straight.
Running with a neutral foot allows for better stability and efficiency of motion. Running with feet in unnatural positions puts more load on joints and connective tissues, causing problems over time. For most people, achieving this standard will take some adjustment. Getting there is made easier in combination with the second standard — the right shoes.
Standard #2 Flat Shoes
Billions of dollars of running shoes are sold every year. For all the marketing and hype there’s scant research to suggest that they help runners in any way. Instead, the cushioned running shoe with a raised heel that was developed in the 80s encouraged a generation of runners to land on the back of their feet (heels) instead of the front —shortening the achilles and reducing natural movement in the process. To test how unnatural that is, try 100 meters barefoot on hard ground and see how quickly your front foot strike returns.
Starret recommends ‘zero-drop’ shoes. No raised heels. And definitely no ‘flip-flops’ (jandals if you’re a kiwi). There are more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments in each foot — the most comprehensive motion-control stabilisation system you will find.
There’s a growing number of brands selling zero-drop running shoes but you need to hunt for them. Altra, Merrel, Inov-8 and Zero are some of the better known companies. I’ve tried several. Some, like Vivobarefoot, mimic barefoot running. Merrel seems to be the easiest to find where I am.
Transitioning to zero-drop shoes takes a little time but once you get used to zero-drop runners/shoes going back to standard runners feel unnatural and weird.
This is perhaps the easiest standard to tackle. Go to a shop buy some flat shoes and you’re on the way.