Recently Xeno Muller, a multiple Olympic medalist single sculler and rowing coach, posted a great piece on using minimalist shoes for both running and indoor rowing. I respect and agree with his opinions on both! A lot of heavyweight male rowers are tall, heavy guys who don’t fit the typical “runner” profile, and they should read Xeno’s post.
Springtime in the east means sketchy, stormy weather for single sculling. I’ve been supplementing with quite a bit of running using Inov-8 or FiveFingers minimalist shoes. While I feel that my foot strength is now high enough not to worry about recovery as much, I am struggling with the technique after a winter of too much snow for running. I tend to land with my foot too far forward, meaning that I am actually decelerating a little before pulling through, as opposed to picking up the ground speed and adding to it seamlessly.
This is the running equivalent to “hanging at the catch” or catching too slowly and throwing up too much backsplash in rowing. Working too hard to maintain speed vs. accelerating each stroke/step.
As usual Brian MacKenzie has posted a great video that helps me visualize the correct motion – after watching this, I tried again doing short intervals and it helped me out tremendously. If you look at the dude on the treadmill, his legs look like the pistons on an old steam locomotive – very smooth, forward-pull, forward-pull. That visual helped me nail the right cadence and pick up a lot of speed.
This is a great guide to minimalist shoes: http://tinyurl.com/37ojf52
Some are truly minimal (Invisible Shoes), others are high-end entries into the market by major companies. People will always find a way to segment the market and make money. I am interested in checking out the Altra shoes and the Zem “socks” as when I first started Crossfit I simply wore my Teva Proton aqua socks and they worked really well!
But the Roman sandals are my favorite! There seems to be more interest lately on many fronts about the “wisdom of the ancients”, such as in this recent blog post on what they ate. I can imagine wearing a pair of caligae around New Jersey. While most people look sideways at my FiveFingers on this coast, I might get some respect with the Roman sandals in this area, a la The Sopranos:
Non-Italian guy being shaken down: "And what happened to the Romans? Where are they now?"
Tony Soprano: "You’re looking at them."
Anyway, back to reality, I am looking forward to trying out my new Inov-8 MudClaws that were a birthday present. These are going to rock for deep snow running this winter!