Several months back I spoke on the phone with Scott Douglas, a writer and editor for Runner’s World and Running Times. My own book, Tread Lightly, had just come out, and Scott was writing a book of his own on minimalist running for Rodale Press (the publisher of Runner’s World and Running Times). We covered a lot of ground in our conversation, but one of the topics we focused on was the future of minimalist running shoes.
Scott’s book was just released, and an excerpt from the book on the future of minimalism was just published on-line at Running Times. I read the excerpt this morning, and quite honestly found it to be a fascinating read (and not just because I’m quoted in it several times!).
Scott weaves together interviews with a number of folks that I’ve come to know in the past few years. Joe Rubio from Running Warehouse provides his perspective on the running shoe market and where things are headed. I haven’t written about Joe much here, but if you’ve ever used the RUNBLOG10 code to buy shoes from Running Warehouse, he’s the guy that made that happen. Joe knows the shoe market as well as anyone, and his comments are highly insightful – he doesn’t see minimalist shoes gaining much additional market share going forward, be he tells Douglas that he does believe that they have left their mark on running shoe design:
They’re hugely influential,” Rubio says of the minimalist shoes it might seem he’s just been deriding. “If you look at things that are happening in the auto industry, you’re seeing Porsches that get 72 miles per gallon for the fastest production car they’ve ever made. The same thing’s happening in the running industry. You’ve got these really lightweight minimal shoes that are having a huge influence on how all shoes are made.”
Brian Metzler of Competitor.com is also a shoe geek and has written a bunch on running form and minimalist footwear. Metzler discusses the influence of new materials on shoe design:
“There are so many new materials being created over in Asia that are super lightweight, super strong, super resilient,” says Brian Metzler, a former Running Times senior editor who has wear-tested more than 1,000 shoes. “So whatever you need a piece of a shoe to do, whether it’s add stretchiness for comfort or add firmness, there are these new materials playing a huge role in the shoe revolution.”
Steve Magness is former assistant coach to Alberto Salazar at Nike and now coaches at the University of Houston. Steve writes the Science of Running blog and we share a very similar perspective when it comes to running shoes and form. Magness hones in on the fitting process, and discussed how misguided it is to focus on just one factor when fitting shoes:
“We can measure pronation easily, so that’s what everything is based on,” he says. “There’s going to be this shift of, well, maybe we can measure this other new thing really well, so let’s make everything entirely based on that.
“The reality is, what people need in a running shoe is probably from some crazy combination of foot mechanics and pronation and muscle activity and structure,” Magness says. “It’s hard to tease out all these things and say, ‘All right, here’s the perfect combination.’”
I don’t want to give too much else away since the article is a fantastic read, and I highly encourage you to head on over to Running Times and give it a look.
I just received a review copy of Scott Douglas’ new book, so I have not read it yet myself, but if the excerpt is an indication of quality of the rest of the book content, it should be a great read. It is now available for purchase at Amazon.com.