Talks with Taylor: My Running Shoes Story

{By Taylor Eckel}

Last time I discussed the objective side of the debate on running shoes.

With that in mind, I want to share with you how I became a supporter of natural running, and give you some tips to keep in mind if you decide to make the switch.

I went through several brands of shoes since I started running when I was about 15, and I eventually settled on Asics plus over-the counter orthotics.

They served me pretty well, but I really had to baby my knees, especially the one that was surgically repaired four years ago.

I first heard about natural running when I picked up Christopher McDougall’s book Born To Run. The book explores a return to natural running, and I was intrigued.

Before taking the plunge, I did a lot of research and talked to the physical therapists in the clinic where I worked— one  is an ironman triathlete!—  and I decided to give natural shoes a go.

When you transition to natural running shoes, you need to give you body time to adapt to the difference.

A good rule of thumb is to do no more than half a mile a day for your first week, because your calves need to adapt to the lower heel and the harder work of running with a forefoot strike. If you’re used to running further distances, it will be tough not to overdo it! Keep the transition gradual, and work up to switching shoes part way through your run.

Since I started wearing my Newtons, I’ve noticed a huge difference. Thanks to a long history of knee problems and athletic injuries, I would spend ridiculous amounts of time stretching before I ran and would be in pain if I didn’t ice religiously afterwards.

My first real run in the Newtons was a 7-miler, and whoa! My legs used to feel completely dead after any run over 5 miles, but that has yet to happen when I run with the forefoot strike. I definitely have to use my calves way more than before, but I also don’t need to stretch like a maniac before I run, and I almost never have to ice my knees.

Remember though, that the benefits of natural running shoes are only good if you run naturally.

Here’s a great video on running form from one of the leaders in natural running: