Running Gone Wild
You know summer isn’t far away when people start running outside…
And smiling at the same time!
There’s been a lot of discussion in the fitness world lately surrounding running – including but not limited to the barefoot running debate. To start, a fire sparked last month when Vibram was sued for making claims that its FiveFinger shoes reduced injuries.
In fact, while we have some research suggesting a reduction in impact forces to joints when landing on the forefoot vs. with a heel strike, we don’t yet know the long-term effects on injury rates with this difference in gait pattern, nor can we say that switching shoes necessitates this change.
But let’s be honest: The majority of seasonal “runners” we see aren’t that concerned with injury or performance anyway. Sure, some people really like to run and want to stay injury-free to continue doing what they enjoy. But the majority of them do it mainly to burn calories and ward off extra weight.
Interestingly, as mentioned in THIS NY TIMES ARTICLE, there is also research showing that running barefoot burns more calories than running shod due to the increased energy cost of muscle contraction to absorb impact forces – which would seemingly suggest that wearing supportive shoes is actually better for runners concerned with conserving energy and improving performance, whereas going barefoot might be more beneficial for those looking to lose weight.
Now that’s an interesting turn of events, don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting either strategy. Personally, I don’t think running is the best strategy for weight loss at all. It just goes to show that there’s always another side to the story, and we need to be careful before accepting dogmatic claims.
To further illustrate my point, here’s some more running research to think about: A study in this month’s Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that running 1600 meters burns more energy than walking the same distance.
I know what you’re thinking: “No sh*t, Sherlock!” But don’t forget that for years we were told the opposite: That walking and running the same distance were equal in terms of energy expenditure; you simply finish faster if you run. This study found not only a significantly higher energy expenditure during the run than during the walk, but also increased energy expenditure afterwards due to excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption (i.e., EPOC).
Bottom line: Be wary of what you hear (or read). What’s right today might be wrong tomorrow.