Who the **** is Grok? Grok is your primitive ancestor. He roamed the earth before the age of Nike or Reebok.
No not the same time as your grandfather, further back than that… back into our evolutionary past.
When Grok climbed up a hill, as he frequently did because he loved the view… he did it without a rain coat and he didn’t have those metal poles. And he certainly didn’t do it with his feet encased in something approaching the sturdiness of a plastercast!
Many traditional hiking boots are like that, they have very thick soles and a huge amount of ankle support, and truth be told they give you confidence that you’re not going to turn over on your ankle and injure yourself half way up a mountain.
That is a good thing, but what if you want something different. What if you want to use that hike to strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles. What if you want to be more like Grok?
Well you could be like Grok, you could just live dangerously and forget the shoes altogether. If you are that way inclined go for it.
I do encourage you to wear clothes so not to scare the other walkers! Barefoot hiking shoes typically as (VivoBarefoot say) have no heel, no mid-sole, no arch support and no gimmicks. These are shoes that are designed to feel like you are walking barefoot while still providing the sole of your foot some protection.
The VivoBarefoot Off Road hiking boots looks like a normal hiking boots so the other hikers are not going to laugh at you and throw their flasks of tea at you. They come in men’s and women’s varieties. The soles are a mere 2.5 mm think meaning that you will really feel every bump on the ground.
Merrell offer a range of barefoot trail shoes like the Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove. The Pace glove is really a trail running shoe but will work well as a minimalist hiking shoe. This kind of shoe will give you protection without you getting too many strange looks out on the mountains.
If you don’t care how you look and don’t mind people staring at you you might want to consider the Vibram Spyridons. These shoes are certainly going to attract some attention but if you are alone on the mountains maybe it doesn’t really matter how you look. The Spyridons have a 3mm sole and chunky grips that make them ideal for hiking,trail running or barefoot walking. They will give you that barefoot feet and you’ll need to tread carefully but that’s kinda the whole point of barefoot hiking shoes.
One of the great things about any kind of barefoot walking shoe is that it will make you feel more connected to the environment. I love my Vibrams because I can really feel the ground underneath my feet when I run. I walk in them too because sometimes a man of a certain age needs to catch his breath.
In researching this article I’m thinking I need to get out into the hills more often because getting up a mountain is another superb way to connect with your environment. To steal nikes catch phrase. Just Do It – no matter what shoes you wear!
I’ve just returned from the cinema where I watched a great movie on the life of Indian 400m sprinter Milkha Singh. As the owner of this blog part of the movie really stood out for me, in his early days Milkha Singh sprinted barefoot!
It made me wonder… do barefoot shoes make good sprinting shoes?
After all before the introduction of Nike’s in the 1970’s everyone wore something called racing flats which are really a very minimalist shoe.
Currently the best selling mens sprinting shoes on amazon are the Puma Bolt, if you are a professional sprinter you probably already know what sprinting shoes are best for you and don’t need advice from me, but if you are an amateur sprinter perhaps your could take a leaf of of Milkha Singh’s book and run either barefoot or in minimalist running shoes. Perhaps I needed to take a leaf out of Milkha’s book….
Sprinting is one the best forms of exercises you can do, it’s probably better for you healthwise than jogging because pushing your body to the limit in an all out sprint will stretch your limits over time making you (and your heart) stronger and healthier.
So, inspired by the movie, instead of going for my usual jog I put on my Vibrams and went out to the park to try out some sprints. Usually I jog for about 45 minutes 2 or 3 times a week.
When I was younger and free I used to sprint a lot, playing sports or just running around but in adult life it’s something I just never do.
My training is just to help keep the pounds off and for general well being and there is so much more I could do.
I am very inflexible and probably should take up yoga or something to help with that. So, out on the grass and walked 1oo paces from a tree (my finish line) turned and ran full speed as fast as I could back.
Now I’m used to running in Vibrams so I think my feet and ankles are strong. The sprint felt very natural. I love the feeling or running on grass.
When you wear Vibrams you can really feel the ground. I don’t think I would run any faster if I was wearing spiked shoes I think one of the benefits of barefoot sprinting is that you can use your toes as they were meant to be used. Toes are actually an important part of running and when they are strapped inside spikes they can’t do their job properly. I think I’m going to try sprinting more often.
Minimalist running shoes and barefoot shoes (with the exception of Vibram FiveFingers) are not really a new thing.
Athletes have a history of racing in simple flat sprinting shoes that are not over engineered.
Running is not difficult simply shoe manufacturers want you to think it’s incredibly complicated to that they can seel your their “technology” to run faster.
Yes if you are training to be a professional sprinter you should probably be on a track and wearing spikes.
If you want to run faster, go and watch Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, learn how the guy overcame many struggles in his life to go on to win gold medals and break world records.
I can tell you, he wasn’t focusing on his sprint shoes too much, he was running, training and sprinting.