Category Archives: Uncategorized

Consider Variety in Running Surfaces

100_1058Journalist and Born to Run author Christopher McDougall has said that barefoot runners care more about how smooth a running surface is than how hard it is. That’s because when skilled minimalist running technique is paired with the maximal sensory feedback provided by the unshod foot, a runner on a hard but smooth concrete sidewalk compensates through slightly greater knee flex to dissipates the landing shock effectively. And compared to a more rugged surface, the runner is less likely to encounter injury of the sudden traumatic kind that could result in bruises, lacerations, or even fractures. But could there be long-term benefits to running on irregular surfaces with adequate but not too much protection on the bottom of the foot?

“Any surface that’s completely even will lend itself to very stereotypical loading, and we know that repetitive stress injuries occur from doing things over and over again with unvarying motion.”

—  Daniel Lieberman

Repetitive stress injuries from running can occur when the body performs the same action with little or no variation, over an extended period of time. Given this, it may be advantageous to not always run on smooth, uniform surfaces. Running barefoot or in a thin-soled minimalist shoe or sandal over rough but tolerable ground forces the runner to continuously shift direction, adjust speed, and vary the way the feet land. This diversifies the stresses all the way up the legs, potentially reducing the chance for overuse injuries, strengthening the feet and ankles in a variety of positions, and challenging balance and coordination. Additionally, incorporating hills, trails, dirt farm paths, grassy surfaces, and lots of twists and turns into your running routes can reduce boredom and yield psychological benefits through focused attention or mindfulness.

Christopher McDougall: ‘Every step I run, I’m focusing on form’

Christopher McDougall talks about running, four years after Born to Run.

Christopher McDougall: ‘Every step I run, I’m focusing on form’

Interviewed by Adharanand Finn of The Guardian.

Hi Chris. Hi. Good morning. Man, it’s too bad you couldn’t be over here this past weekend to join us for a really spectacular trail run with some Amish friends.

Sounds great. Do you run with the Amish a lot? Increasingly, yeah. There’s a group out here that has just started becoming really passionate about running. Passionate in a way I think most of us forget about. They’re not only running marathons, but they’re trying to improve their one mile time. I just saw these dudes recently, and this guy’s in his 30s, and he says, “Yeah, I just did a 4.50 mile.”

Do they wear old fashioned running kit? If they’re out in the world, they’ll wear shorts and T-shirt, but if they’re at home for local runs they’ll wear their long pants and long shirts.

And what about footwear? You know, pretty conventional, normal running shoes. It’s funny because the Amish tend to go barefoot all the time, so that whole question about running shoes is probably among the most intense conversations I’ve had with them about running. Read More »

A Popular Myth About Running Injuries

A Danish study using a very large group of novice runners shows no correlation between moderate levels of pronation and an increased risk of injury, and suggests that the common practice of choosing running shoes based on foot type, is flawed. 

A Popular Myth About Running Injuries

By Gretchen Reynolds

Almost everyone who runs (or has shopped for running shoes) has heard that how your foot pronates, or rolls inward, as you land affects your injury risk. Pronate too much or too little, conventional wisdom tells us, and you’ll wind up hurt. But a provocative new study shows that this deeply entrenched belief is probably wrong and that there is still a great deal we don’t understand about pronation and why the foot rolls as it does.    Read More »

Local Doctor Advocates Minimalist Running

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella opened his running store, Two Rivers Treads, back in 2010 as the wave of interest in minimalist running was building following the release of Born to Run a year earlier. The store embraces minimalism. All of the shoes it stocks are either minimalist or transitional, and there is a strong emphasis on teaching customers proper running form and transitioning.

Cucuzzella discusses the minimalist running movement and his experiences as a long-time runner that led him to change the way he ran. He also shares his opinion about a recent study comparing injury rates in runners wearing different kinds of running shoes.

He is the co-founder and co-director of the Natural Running Center, a comprehensive online resource for anyone interested in minimalist running. 

Local Doctor Advocates Minimalist Running

By Sean Manning and Rob Kreis

Two River Treads on West German Street, sells running shoes designed to offer the foot less support instead of more. The store, owned by Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, caters to runners embracing a practice called minimalist running.    Read More »


Running Shoes Have Large Carbon Footprint

Researches at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the typical running shoe has a carbon footprint that is larger than what would be expected. Most of it arises from the manufacturing process, particularly the great many steps involved in assembling as many as 65 individual components. But what this brief online Runner’s World article didn’t explore is how minimalist running can produce a smaller carbon footprint.    

Runner’s who heel-strike frequently wear out their shoes after 500 miles since by then the impact absorbing midsole loses much of its resiliency even though the rest of the shoe may remain in good condition. Adopting a lighter, bent-knee midfoot landing can greatly extend the useful life of a pair of running shoes since the improved form uses the body’s own spring-like mechanics to manage impact forces. No matter how much carbon is released in the manufacturing process, shoes that are replaced half as often result in a reduction in both carbon emissions and the number of spent shoes going into landfills. If barefoot running is added to a runner’s program, the shoes will last even longer, chronologically.

I would welcome a study that examined the carbon footprints of conventional running shoes compared with minimalist shoes. Generally minimalist shoes appear to have fewer parts. For example each of my Xero Shoes sandals has only two parts—the rubber sole and the lace. (Well actually, three parts, since I have the older style kernmantle laces consisting of a woven outer sheath and a separate inner core). And I expect the sandals to last for at least 2000 miles.

Minimalist running has multiple advantages, and minimal impact on the environment is one of them.

Running Shoes Have Large Carbon Footprint

By Scott Douglas

Research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a reminder that running isn’t necessarily as ecofriendly a sport as we might think it is.

Published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, the research says that the typical pair of running shoes generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, a carbon footprint equivalent to keeping a 100-watt lightbulb on for one week.    Read More »

You don’t Know How to Run

The April 2013 issue of Outside magazine features an article about the two different perspectives on running. On one side are the minimalists such as Mark Cucuzzella, Born to Run author Christopher McDougall, and Harvard’s Irene Davis. On the other side are the traditionalists including kinesiologist Joe Hamill, and podiatrists Simon Bartold and Kevin Kirby. As writer Andrew Tilin rather dramatically describes it, “the minimalists believe they’re poised to inherit the earth. The traditionalists have no plans to surrender.” 

Though both camps are guilty of oversimplification and stubbornness, they manage to find some common ground. I know which side I fall on, firmly believing that if not for the invention of the conventional overbuilt running shoe, many more people would be running today.

You don’t Know How to Run

By Andrew Tilin

On a summer day inside the Pentagon, Mark Cucuzzella is mobilizing the troops. “Everyone stand up. I want you to feel this,” Cucuzzella barks from the front of a big conference room. The audience is full of military officers dressed in Army or Marine Corps fatigues, Air Force blues, and Navy khakis. They’ve assembled in the Library and Conference Center, part of the Department of Defense’s massive headquarters in Arlington County, Virginia. 

The officers quickly get to their feet.

“Now pretend like you’re jumping rope,” Cucuzzella says, and the officers start to quietly pogo off the balls of their feet. Epaulets bounce. Combat boots meet carpeted floor and produce muted thuds.

“One, two, three! One, two, three!” Cucuzzella says. The officers speed up their hops to match his cadence. “Up off the ground, nice and smooth.”    Read More »

The 100-Up

In the 1870s, a teenage chemist’s apprentice and runner in England named Walter George came up with an unorthodox training method that he called the “100‑Up.” George’s apprenticeship schedule left little time for running, so instead he practiced this stationary drill that involved alternately bringing one knee up to the level of the hip while placing the foot of the other leg back down on the ground. In his written account of the drill, George describes a basic “Minor” version suited to beginners, performed while standing tall with the foot flat on the floor, and a “Major” version done while balanced on the ball of the foot, with the body tilted slightly forward, incorporating a quick springing action and counterbalancing arm movement. The drill is limited to 20 repetitions (20-Up) until it can be performed perfectly, after which one may gradually build up to 100 at a time.  Soon, with little or no actual running as part of his training, George was winning races and setting local and world records.

In this video Born to Run author Christopher McDougall takes a group of runners through the 100-Up, and explains how well over a century later, it remains a valuable training tool for building good running form. The video accompanied the web version of The Once and Future Way to Run, an article McDougall wrote for The New York Times Magazine in 2011 in which he describes demonstrating the 100‑Up to Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, a physician, a professor of Family Medicine at West Virginia University, and runner, who has run multiple sub-2:35 marathons since turning 40. Cucuzzella, a proponent of minimalist running, was impressed. “The key to injury-free running is balance, elasticity, stability in midstance and cadence,” he said. “You’ve got all four right there.”