GearJunkie.com posted yesterday about the ECCO BIOM A, currently the world’s most expensive running shoe at $220. It’s made of Himalayan yak leather. Leather. On a running shoe. Hell, I suppose. They even come with an instruction manual. Seriously.
It’s the latest attempt to capitalize on the trend of “barefoot running,” or the pitch that everyone should suddenly start striking on the pads of their feet, not the heels, because it’s more natural. I’m not wholly convinced.
The Vibram Five Fingers have exploded in popularity but I have yet to read about any new world records being attributed to training in them. A lot of elite runners take time to run in their bare feet to help strengthen muscles and further callous their pads and heels to absorb longer periods of impact.
There is no scientific proof that today’s heavy-soled shoes contribute to injury. If you started running early in life without shoes, or a makeshift sandal like the Tarahumara, then of course that method is going to be what’s best for the long term. Additionally, products like the Vibram encourage runners to begin training on a drastically different sole instead of slowly working it into their normal routine.
In short, there isn’t anything wrong with running in bare feet. I just don’t see it as the answer to anything. In fact, I never knew there was a question.