Brooks CEO Jim Weber has put out the first salvo from any of the major shoe companies (I previously linked out to what Newton Running Shoes had to say about this). NPR joins that chase with their article noting the Harvard study done by Lieberman and a liberal sprinkling of quotes, including this one:
and he's right to note that, because the message boards have been awash with runners who don't understand the scientific process quoting his study. Brooks has also posted this on their site, with much of their science behind their shoe manufacturing, that will no doubt be shouted at the by barefoot runners.
Lieberman published his findings in the journal Nature. He received research funding from a company that makes "minimal" shoes, which mimic barefoot conditions, but he adds that he received no personal income from the company. He also says he's not taking sides over which style of running is better or safer.
"I mean, I think we have to be really, really careful about what we do and don't know. We have not done any injury studies; this is not an injury study," he says. That's next.
Part of the problem here is the lack of civility in the discussion. The barefoot runners, on LetsRun.com's message board, and Runner's World's Message board and in the comments section of the Weber's blog post are so sure of their personal, anecdotal evidence that they then apply it to the rest of humanity. Should anyone try to tell that it might need a more reasoned approach, they get flamed.
Its hard to discuss this with someone who has just discovered religion. The recent converts are the worst.
What constantly gets shouted down is the idea that there might be a middle ground, which is where many of us long time runners fall. I've been running in minimalist trainers since 1983, and my form is long since adapted to that, but after fracturing my sesimoid bone(s) in 1998, I find that my foot no longer can act quite the way that it did prior to the break. The barefoot crowd doesn't want to hear that there are quite literally thousands of thousands of people out there who have injury histories that might prevent them from doing their precious barefoot running.
And therein lies the rub. Just as in politics, there is no room for civil discourse anymore, and that just destroys everything, which is really, really sad to me.