New Shoes for the Marathon!

I’ve been running hard now for a little over 6 months.  Early in the training I had all kinds of trouble with shin splints, bad knees, foot pain and lower back issues.  I spent hundreds of dollars on running shoes, knee braces, shoe inserts and the like.  I even went as far as to have an MRI performed on my left shin.  I was desperate for a solution.  Then I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall,  a book about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons, and it changed my running life – I began to run barefoot.  I’ll let Mr. McDougall explain:


I started to wear these Vibram shoes which are basically rubber slippers and over the last 3 months I’ve shed the knee braces, shin warmers and use the muscle roller on my calves only on occasion.  It’s been an interesting and educational odyssey.  I posted this before but below is a cool animation from the Newton Running Shoe Company demonstrating the difference in barefoot running. The cartoon is simplistic but you get the idea – toe to heel (forefoot strike) in bare feet – the way man was meant to run, instead of heel to toe (heel strike) the way the shoe industry has made us believe we should run.  Try it – you can’t run heel to toe in bare feet – at least not very far.

People have stopped asking me about the barefoot thing because it sends me into a 20 minute diatribe of the evils of running shoes and the wonders of the human foot but I’m relatively pain free and enjoying the miles again so my experience has made me an enthusiast for the reshaping of the shoe industry.

This link to a Popular Mechanics article (I know, PM?) is a good illustration of the barefoot movement:

The Running Shoe Debate: How Barefoot Runners are Shaping the Shoe Industry

Recently, I’ve noticed that my feet get really tired on the long runs.  This is due to 46+ years of wearing shoes and only giving the effected muscles in my feet 3 months to get into shape.   The fatigue rises from my feet into my calves and slowly drains the energy in my legs.  I’m okay up to about 12 miles but with only 5 weeks to race day I’ve grown concerned about the effects of 26.2 miles on my newly awakened feet.  Maybe this isn’t the one to run barefoot but I can get close.

I’ve been looking at the Nike and New Balance flat ‘barefoot’ shoes that have been built in response to the revived barefoot movement and wondered if they might allow me to have the freedom of barefoot running but give just a little cushion under the soles of my feet.  About three weeks ago I picked up a pair of Nike Lunaracer+.  I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t go back to running shoes but everything I’ve read about these made them sound like the final piece to my marathon puzzle.


From Nike:  The shoe gives you the feel of a well-cushioned tempo trainer and the weight of a featherlight racing flat. The Lunaracer is ideal for the runner with a neutral to mildly overpronated gait.

• Breathable mesh upper with Flywire for enhanced fit, support and stability with minimal weight
• Internal microfiber bands for enhanced lockdown and a snug, secure fit
• Reflective elements for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions
• EVA sockliner molded around the curve of the heel and medial arch for better fit, comfort and support
• Springy, lightweight LunarLite cushioning for soft yet responsive shock absorption
• Phylite carrier housing the LunarLite foam core to enhance cushioning and support, with a virtual medial post to help moderate pronation

• Molded sipes along the carrier’s base for enhanced flexibility and a more neutral, efficient stride

• Waffle Pistons for increased cushioning and response
• Rubber in high-wear areas for durability and traction
• Weight: 5.5 ounces (men’s size 9)

This quick video from Nike Lab gives an explanation of the shoe too:

I love them.  They are extremely light weight, have no arch support or any silly gels or boing springs but have just enough cushion to give my feet the extra support they seem to want.  I plan to run in them at the City to the Sea 1/2 marathon on October 11 and with a little luck the NY Marathon on Nov 1.  I still run intervals and runs shorter than 6 miles in the Vibram Five Finger shoes as I don’t want my legs to forget where they’ve been but until my feet are really ready for prime time I’m a Lunaracer wearing man!


tom lowe photo, llc

tacoma, wa 98406


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