It’s all about the calves

calves2As you may already know, runners tend to be pretty picky about their footwear.  Adam, in particular, insists on wearing what some would consider “minimalist” shoes.  For those who don’t know, the purpose of minimalist shoes is basically the following:

to protect your feet from sharp/rough ground while allowing natural movement as much as possible. 

Essentially, you’d want to run barefoot except for pesky things like sharp rocks, broken glass, etc.  Forget about cushioning and “motion control”.  Now, there’s still a lot of debate about this topic among runners (and others), but I don’t want to get into that too much in this post.

Proponents of minimalist footwear argue that it leads to fewer injuries, but only if you adapt slowly.  If you’ve been wearing heavily cushioned shoes for the past several years, then the muscles in your feet and calves aren’t prepared to carry you as fast as you’ve been running.  My approach: follow Caballo Blanco’s advice (taken from Born to Run by Chris McDougall), “Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast.”  Don’t pound the pavement – keep it light.

So, I’ve been working to build up those forgotten muscles that laid dormant when I ran in my Nike Luna shoes (with their thick cushioned heels).  I’ve moved to the Skora Forms which are beautiful shoes, but my calves have been doing a lot more work than they did in my other shoes.  When you look at the design of our feet and legs it make sense that the calves should play an important role – a role they don’t play when a runner lands heel-first. So now I’m playing catch up and building up my neglected calf muscles. Oh, and I’m stretching them well to prevent tightness/injury elsewhere. In my transition to minimalist running, it’s all about the calves.