I admit I should be doing BRS work at the moment, but it's been another crap filled day, 2 glasses of wine too many and my "professional hat" has been placed on the hat-stand. Being professional can wait - hence why I going to rant here instead. Before you say it - you're welcome ;)
The last couple of weeks I have been going through a change in my thinking about barefoot and minimalist running. It's all New York's fault. When you drag so many intelligent people from the same community - yet, who all have different view-points - then you proceed to lock them in a "hipster dungeon" for 3 hours to talk, well, viewpoints are going to change.
I wish I knew who said the magic sentence that changed my idea's, but it wasn't a dungeon for nothing. The light was bad and Merrell haven't released the transcripts of our interrogation yet. (Kidding, before the UN start indicting Merrell on crimes of torture! Phew..)
The epiphany was this. Why do we count Barefoot running outside the realms of running? Why is "Barefoot running" a separate entity?
I had never really seen our community like this before. Okay, I knew we were outside the norms of what most of the running community would call sane, but hey, I can say that about myself about 100% of the time anyway. It was the first time I realized that we were doing this to ourselves. We were cutting ourselves off.
This thought has germinated more as we talk about "Barefoot running" coaches and "barefoot running" shoes (yes, I realize the people that "know" still call them minimalist shoes before I get flamed - chill, grab a bottle of beer).
Why do we have to attach the word "barefoot" onto the front of anything we do? I know it's a little contradictory considering my blogsite is "barefootkatiek", but understand that this is an evolutionary thought. (I am also not going to change my blog name - it took me ages to get my 60 or so followers, I am not going to lose them now).
Two years ago, I was very much about "Barefoot" this and "Barefoot" that; just like I thought running barefoot was the ONLY way to go. I have grown and understood the situation in this small but rapidly growing community. I have seen how we have developed. I have come to understand that we need some type of shoes in certain conditions (shoes as tools), and that we are alienating ourselves from the running community.
I have become less zealous in my advocacy of pure barefoot running. Yes, I still think it is the best way to learn really good running form. However, I have come to accept that we are not going to convince everyone we meet that this is the case. I will still try, but I will accept that this isn't for everyone. I have come to realize we need to concentrate on what is important.
What is important is that people who run (regardless of what is on their feet), need to know how to run well. This is where the whole "segregation" issue is starting to make me think.
I think by placing the word "Barefoot" in front of everything, is preventing the greater goal of allowing more people to experience "good" running. It is preventing more people from running better.
The thing is "barefoot running form" isn't barefoot running form at all, t's GOOD running form. It's a running form that should be adopted by everyone who wants to run well. It's harder to do when you have 2 inches of rubber on your feet, but regardless, it's something you should strive to attain.
It's the same with "Barefoot running shoes". They aren't ever going to be as good at teaching you form as being completely barefoot, however, they ARE better than foam, support and control.
I think we are missing the point on what we are trying to teach here.
The situation is that a lot of people (I would even go as far as to say, the majority of people) aren't comfortable with the idea of going barefoot. Twenty or thirty years of images and philosophy is a hard thing to change and we aren't going to change it for a lot of people. Let's accept that. However, we should concentrate on allowing them to practise running safely in the philosophy they do have.
I think if we detach the word "barefoot" from it's companions "Running", "coaching" and "shoes", we may find that we will have a lot more people considering zero-drop, minimal support shoes. If there is education on form that is not restricted to a small community, people will listen. When we call ourselves "Runners" instead of "barefoot runners" and we call "barefoot shoes" just "shoes", we will discover that more people are willing to experiment.
As I help educate my friends, (either via running club or in that moment of sanity as the kids are in school), on good running form I am becoming very conscious on ensuring I don't use the word "barefoot" in the conversation. If I tell them I am going to help them with "Running form" they are more inclined to listen. The running form I am teaching them IS "barefoot running form", but because I have side-stepped the issue of what they have on their feet, they are more acceptant of what I have to say.
I think this would be the same with "Barefoot" or minimal shoes. I think if we took the whole concept of "Barefoot" out of the equation - just called them "shoes", yet at the same time we educated on why minimal shoes are designed as they are, we would find that more people would buy them - not as a transient "fad" but as something serious they want to work with.
The key is logic. If you just say the word "Barefoot" that immediately puts people off. If you explain the anatomy behind running with good form, why good form helps everyone run better and why minimalist shoes help this process, then you will get more converts.
I think as a group we need to forget about separating ourselves from the running community. I think we need to discard our need for being "outside of the box". I think if we seriously want to get more people "on-board", running in minimal shoes, or barefoot - running with good form - we need to go back to the fold. We need to work from within.
Essentially we need to reclaim the word "running".