Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shoe Drop

Shoe Drop

I was lucky enough to get a couple pairs of Pearl Izumi E-Motion shoes to try out a couple weeks ago. Normally I run in your basic Brooks Adrenaline ASR or trail version, which have a 11mm drop. The Pearl Izumi's come in a couple different drops: the N1 is a zero drop shoe and the N2 has a 4mm drop. Also, the Brooks are what you call a "stability" shoe, while the Pearl Izumi's are "neutral." I've been intrigued by all of the science and discussion behind zero drop shoes (it turns out, zero drop is the original running shoe design, and it was not until Bowerman added a heel wedge did we get shoes with significant drop), as well as the science behind shoe design. It seems that there is no scientific evidence supporting the standard running shoe categories of neutral, stability, and motion control, nor is there any scientific evidence that any of the mechanisms employed in running shoes actually work! (this is coming largely from my reading of Tread Lightly: Form, Footwear, and the Quest for Injury Free Running; I'm only about half through, as well as a lot of the recent science concerning barefoot or minimal shoe running.)

As such, I've wanted to try out some lower drop shoes, as well as shoes that do not have any stability or motion control mechanisms built into them to see what happens. The Pearl Izumi's fit that bill. I've run a fair bit now in the N2 Trails, which have a 4mm drop, a type of "rock plate" and no stability or motion control mechanisms. As such, they are super light, which has been a treat and the first thing I've noticed. Likewise, their arch location is a bit different (slightly back), which took my foot a bit to get used to. However, now that I've run in them a fair bit, and my foot is used to them, I fail to notice any lack of stability or motion control support. In fact, they feel great, and are now my go to shoe. So, have I been running in shoes with extra weight all these years for no real reason? Hard to say. The wear pattern that is emerging seems to indicate that my foot strike does go from outside to inside, but there is also enough wear on the inside to outside of the sole to indicate that my foot strike is pretty neutral. Maybe I was put in some motion control or stability shoes way back in the day when I got my first pair at the BRC; doing the standard treadmill test (which, reading in the book mentioned above appears to be totally unproven and highly inaccurate).

I'm still in the testing phase with this, and have only run in the N1 road shoe a couple times (zero drop, no stability or motion control). However, the N2 with its 4mm drop and lack of stability mechanisms seems to be just fine - and they are light at only 9.9oz! I'll keep testing.

Ran up and over Kelso Mountain via the northeast ridge again, then over and up Grays and Torreys from Bakersville again the other day. Lots of snow, cold wind, etc. Might be the last time I can do this run in my "summer" gear - if this coming storm delivers like they say, it will be full winter conditions next time up. Same as last time: 4:25 rt from Bakersville, 15 miles, 7,300' gain.

 Start and finish...

 Part of the northeast ridge up Kelso...

You can tell how windy it was by my red coloring...

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