Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Abebe Bikila won the 1960 Olympic marathon barefoot. Adidas was the shoe sponsor that year and didn't have a pair that fit Bikila. His comment on why he ran barefoot, “I wanted the world to know that my country, Ethiopia, has always won with determination and heroism." He won the 1964 Olympic marathon setting a new world record, but wearing shoes. So how come he didn't continue to run barefoot? The biggest presumption would be the shoe companies provide runners at this level with free shoes. Ok, but if running barefoot is better, why don't any other elites run barefoot? Some unknown runner wins a major marathon pretty regularly, they don't have any incentive from the shoe companies to run with shoes. Perhaps, they do and its' like the conspiracy theory. Any barefoot runner seen at the start of a major race is pulled to the side and put in shoes. Bet the shoe companies even have a vigilante squad of shoe shodders just for this operation. Probably even have some kind of turf war over which shoe company will shod the next barefoot runner.
What? Don't think enough fast runners are running barefoot to worry the shoe companies? But, isn't that one of the major reasons for running barefoot. It's more natural, efficient and faster. Drills run barefoot on grass help with form for runners who need to change their stride. But, aren't the fast runners already as efficient as they need to be? Most of them would like to have as light of a race flat as possible, why not just eliminate the shoe completely?
Perhaps it has more to do with the utility the shoe provides. The lightest racing flat, still protects the bottom of the foot from the road. Barefoot runners toughen up their feet to accomplish the same thing. Why don't the elites do the same? Does the addition of the 5 ounces of racing flat slow an elite down enough to consider running barefoot, or is it that it isn't worthwhile to pursue training without shoes to eliminate that 5 ounces?
Yes, every one is born barefoot. The cavemen didn't have shoes. So what, they didn't have microwaves, either. Think I'll continue wearing shoes, though I'd really like to find a lightweight shoe with cushioning in the forefoot and nothing in the heel. Yes, the shoe companies are evil and make shoes that most people don't need and I sure as hell wish they'd make a model for 2-3 years in a row without changing it to market it in a different manner or to the latest fad or demographic.