Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Kids and running
As a parent I have a big dilemma about what to do about shoes for my kids. The eldest has my flat feet and the podiatrist has recommended shoes as stiff as a board with orthotics (special insoles). The fact that we bought these items from a shop that had probably been in the same place since the civil war didn't do much to allay my fears: how can I live by one philosophy and yet have my kids live by another? When people ask me about my minimalist running shoes I tell them why I think they are better than normal running shoes (while they look on with politely disguised boredom I suppose) but I also say that I wouldn't recommend them to anyone who was not willing to really commit to re-conditioning their feet. But the kids' feet have not yet been turned into squashed, mushy pulp by shoes yet and they always go barefoot in the house. They have strong looking feet with a nice separation between the toes. Even so, it takes some guts to go against the doctor's orders - the responsibility would be all mine if something happened to them. Then, last year we stumbled upon the Terra Plana Vivobarefoot shop in Brighton where I bought my first Evos, my wife bought some funky shoes and - to my delight - she also agreed to buy some "barefoot" shoes for the kids (thus sharing the responsibility). I'm now looking to replace them because they have been completely worn out. There are still very limited options for minimalist running shoes for kids. Merrel have launched some which I am currently unable to buy over the internet because of the shipping restrictions and Merrel's antiquated policy of dividing their internet shops into "zones". Instead, I am eagerly awaiting the launch of the Vivobarefoot Neos for kids, which should be out any day now.
Next time you see a small kid running, watch how he or she runs. Doesn't it look like the smoothest, most efficient way to run? Then watch how we run as adults. Something happens to us in that time and I'd like to help my kids avoid it happening to them. I don't claim that shoes are entirely to blame, some of the problem comes from our innate ability to imitate others and our false image of what it means to run correctly. (How many photos can you spot in an issue of Runner's World of people over-striding? Some of them are even elite runners.)