Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nike Free 7.0 Review

I love shoes, I do. So much so that when I did my clothing purge, I only purged a few and didn't post pictures! (no judgement!) Lately though, shoes and I have been having some...misunderstandings. I just don't know how I feel about them any more, especially my running shoes. There is a part of me that distrusts them. It makes me sad.

The reason being, lately there have been too many books, articles, blogs, experts talking about what modern running shoes do to our feet, what they allow our feet to do while running that is unnatural and also, just all the injuries that they can cause. That is why I am moving toward a more minimalist style of running... I am weening myself down to... well... less and less shoe.  

 The graveyard



 Moving to a more minimal style of shoe also just naturally changes your foot strike more easily and can help in reducing injuries or stress to your joints and muscles in that simplest way. I blogged about exploring my own foot strike here: Running form: the heel strike, and put it to use in my first two races in my Nike Free's 7.0 the past 2 weekends. 


Their slogan is "Run barefoot" and the idea is to make it feel as if you are. They are so lightweight they don't even register on my bathroom scale! I pulled down a decorative kitchen scale and sure enough, they weighed in at just a hair under one ounce for the pair. 




Overall, they are very flexible and really allow our feet more movement. Even back as far as our mid-foot the tread opens and expands as the shoe moves. 




The first couple times I took them out for a nice spin, I knew I liked them, but I didn't feel any discomfort either, not like I anticipated. In most modern running shoes, our feet don't really have to work. The rest of our leg muscles work for them and our feet just clop along as if in casts. Our toes don't splay and move, gripping for ground as we go along. Our toes don't move freely in most of our shoes and why not? They are there for a reason, they have a vital part to play in our balance, agility and performance. 



They fit nice and snug, and they aren't obtrusive to any part of your foot. Even the heel is soft and forms to your foot instead of rubbing it the wrong way. 



Needless to say, around miles 7-9 I started to feel soreness in the ball of my foot and in my big toe. Signs that spots that were dormant are moving more. The soreness went away as soon as I stopped the run and didn't return until a similar milage on the next run. I could tell that this was the first part of reconditioning my foot to move naturally!

The Nike Free's don't have a lot of cushioning, but they have a little. I find that I didn't notice they were "hard" or not soft, I didn't really notice it at all, and that to me is a good sign. The point of a shoe like this was for me to kind of ease into a more minimal running shoe. It is designed to help build strength and flexibility as we recondition.  

One thing that will be sore and not just while your running, is your calfs and maybe even your hamstrings. At least for me, when I run in these Nike Free's or purposefully change my strike and gait, I use different muscles: my calf were sore. I was recruiting them more than I usually did when I changed my gait. But we foam roll, stretch and go again!   


The next few steps will be exciting to get into, I just know.  It's true, I'm drinking the kool-aid!

What has been your favorite experience with a running shoe? Have you thought about going more minimal?

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