Long live the magic shoes!
This week I received an email from a major French e-commerce running site. I was happy to see 3 proposals for magical shoes which, each in their own way, give me the opportunity to become a better runner, or at the very least, to feel better while running.
Proposition 1: The “zero gravity” shoe
It’s true that gravity sucks
The American brand Under Armor has positioned its offer on the inconvenience we experience every day of being stuck to the earth's surface by gravity. So they developed a running shoe that gives a zero gravity sensation, called Hovr, from the verb “to hover”, which means to float or hover.
The secret lies in their "energy web" technology which gives "a strong dynamism and energy return". Thus “each stride is light and effortless, the legs are fresh for the way yet to be covered”.
So you are high.
Proposition 2: The shoe to fly
Glide at 10,000 feet
It's Hoka and their motto "Time to Fly" that presents 3 new shoes, "with a bold and elegant style. They can do it all, go with everything ... with ever so light cushioning that knows no bounds."
We can thus read that the secrets of this brand revolve around 5 concepts:
Oversizing: “Thanks to their massive soles, Hoka shoes have 2.5 times more EVA than traditional trail shoes. The advantages are numerous: exceptional shock absorption, comfort, natural stride… ”
Rockering: “The sole profile is curved over 50% of its length. The result: an incomparable roll providing natural propulsion and a smoother heel / toe transition. ”
Control: “Following the principle of the bucket seat, your foot is found inserted 20 to 30 mm in the sole. This keeps your heel firmly in place, greatly improving the precision and stability of your stride. ”
Stability: “With a 35% wider sole featuring a wide variety of studs as well as reinforced sidewalls, your Hoka One One will provide you with grip and stability while compensating for the thickness of their platform.
Lightness: don't be fooled by their looks, the Hoka One One shoes are among the lightest in their categories.
“With Hoka One One, discover the sensation of hovering on earth”.
So in summary: 2.5 times more material under the feet, a sole that rolls the foot, the foot well locked and firmly held 2 to 3 cm inside the sole, which is a third wider than the foot to provide "stability", estimated by the mark necessary to compensate for the thickness of the sole (!)
It's a bit like a patient who is prescribed 5 drugs, including 3 to cure and 2 others to combat the side effects of these 3 drugs ...
And, we repeat it several times, all this to allow a “natural stride”.
Proposition 3: the shoe that adapts to the runner's fatigue
Not even tired!
ASICS brings us their 20th model of the must-have Nimbus. This time around, the GEL-Nimbus 20 “delivers the best run ever thanks to the introduction of Adaptive GEL which adapts cushioning to runner fatigue”.
Awesome! The promise of a shoe that detects a runner's level of fatigue and then automatically adjusts the level of cushioning.
Could it really be? Hmm, let me doubt it.
In the United States such a promise would very quickly find itself severely taken up by an action class in false advertising.
Nimbus in Latin means “cloud”, so here we are with a third possibility of hovering. Difficult to make a choice.
Or maybe not that hard.
You just have to stop trying to get high, get your feet back on the ground and get back to the basics. Let's think about the construction of the foot first and figure out what to do with it.
OK, I understand that every brand is looking for its differentiation and that the best way to do that is by developing / inventing new technologies. But…
The central question
Obviously all this revolves around the fundamental question for any runner: how to bring comfort and reduce fatigue in order to allow me to go further and / or faster?
Comfort is an eminently subjective element. What's comfortable for me isn't necessarily for you.
Fatigue is also subjective and dependent on multiple factors such as sleep, food, environment, weather, etc.
On the other hand, technological differences are a priori objective, but very difficult to measure and quantify. For this reason, no manufacturer is providing scientifically validated evidence of its “promises”.
The perilous exercise for brands is therefore to play on the subjective, the feelings and the imaginary, with "objective" elements, in order to meet the expectations of prospects.
Assimilate running to a movement of sliding, floating, hovering ...
The activity becomes effortless, because the shoes take care of everything.
The goal of brands is to mask the real lack of OBJECTIVE proof of their technologies by using language that plays on the feelings and SUBJECTIVE imagination of the prospect. Thus it is possible to make full use of the tools of marketing to make those who are listening believe that the products are perfectly suited to what they are looking for.
Our vision with Commepiedsnus and the minimalist shoes that are at the heart of what we do, is different.
We place the user fully in front of his choices, around the idea that we must use our body in the best way, while respecting the biomechanics and its capacities.
That the shoe must above all provide protection against the elements: hot and cold, and things that can sting or cut. And that they provide a flawless grip, depending on the terrain.
Putting people at the center, with their strengths and weaknesses, our bias is to say that you should fully express your talent and will in simple shoes, without external technologies. The technology is in you, it's your body.
You will not get high, you will be in direct contact with your surroundings, which is more exhilarating. You are an actor in your stride and responsible for your movements.
The technologies that brands offer are actually not that magical. They obviously don't make you soar or fly. Running still takes effort, and that's what you look for in your practice too.
No, they mainly allow you to hide or compensate for gaps. In some cases they allow you to go beyond your capabilities with sometimes harmful consequences.
The best marathoners perform with the simplest shoes. Roger Bannister passed the mythical 4 minutes per mile bar with simple spikes. Since running is multi-factorial, performance cannot be attributed solely to the shoe used.
Sir Roger Bannister and his shoes (not very hi-tech)
Trust yourself. Rely on your intrinsic abilities and question yourself about the cleverly packaged promises that brands present to you.
Buy your shoes with your feet, not your head. Look for comfort, freedom of movement, and the feeling of being in tune with your surroundings.
Your head is looking for the look, the marketing promises and the dream.
Your feet are anchored in reality and recognize the shoes that are best suited to you and your practice.