Yesterday I received my pair of Vibrams “Five Finger” shoes, which you’ve probably seen. They look like gloves for your feet, and the idea is that it forces you to run how people were supposed to run.
I won’t go into depth about Born to Run or any of that crap except to say that I believe the author, Christopher McDougall, when he says that people were never meant to run heel-to-toe, which is what sneakers and running shoes promote. To be very brief, the biomechanics of the human foot appear to suggest that people are designed to generally walk heel-to-toe but run on the pads of our feet, and for extended periods. Since the publication of Born to Run, research into barefoot running has exploded, and the science seems to bear out McDougall’s anecdotal evidence that people who don’t wear shoes tend to walk and run in the manner described.
This made sense to me, because like many runners with an elephant-like stride (not a good thing), I tend to get shin splints, knee pain, and all sorts of random aches cropping up after some weeks of continuous training. But the real impetus for switching to Vibrams, which essentially allows soft-footed children of suburbia like myself to run on pavement without having to develop blisters and callouses, was simply boredom.