Do we pamper ourselves too much this day and age?

I've decided this year to do away with all support and cushioned shoes etc, and simply use a pair of Nike Vaporfly's to train in everyday, and throwing away all my expensive other shoes. I've had nothing but niggles for over a year now with these supposibly perfect running shoes that I keep getting recommended, pulls, strains all the rest of it... so thought, right lets let me feet and legs do what they did as a kid? Run without any interference.

Was speaking to my Dad about it and he's ran 32 minute 10k's in the 60's... and hardly suffered from injuries... this in a rubbish pair of trainers, no physio's, no fancy food or protein shakes...

So, the question is, do we now worry about things to much instead of just chucking a pair of trainers on and running?

Food intake, water intake, recovery, protein, gels, special shoes, iPods etc etc.... Ron Clarke Or Zatopek, did they use all this malarky?

Just seems to me, we're all getting a little bogged down in schedules and comfort wear etc...


I know one thing, it'd save alot of money!

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  • Gatton has posted a link to an article in the past, that suggests that running shoes do more harm than good and we would all be better off running barefoot!
  • I used to sprint.  Barefoot.  No problems

    I also swum for my county - and now suddenly there are 2000 different goggles to chose from.  I NEVER swum with goggles on.  Or fins.  What is that about?

  • I believe I used to sprint and do other athletics, as well as play tennis, rounders, netball, basketball and volleyball all in the same pair of trainers - and they would have come from M&S or somewhere. 
  • Yeh those cheap as tennis shoes with like 8 lace holes... 
  • Yeah - might even have been plimsolls actually, thinking about it.
  • Just thinking out loud...

    maybe it's a product of the way that we want it all and we want it now?

    I notice that 'Double your endurance in 10 weeks' is back on the front of RW this month. While it probably sells magazines, I reckon it's a symptom of how running has become such an industry. 

    People expect to improve dramatically in a few weeks, where biologically, we're still designed to improve very gradually over a lifetime of consistent exercise. Shoes and protein shakes and compression tights all enable people to train harder and more regularly, so they can 'get fit quick' [sic]

    It's probably quite easy to run minus the technology when you're a good athlete, biomechanically sound with decent lungs and ligaments, but it takes a bit of assistance to get there.

    Of course, once you get there, you tend to want to try any 'gadget' to give yourself an edge over people who are also good athletes image

  • In my late teens/early 20s I did many many miles in DMS ankle boots - never did anything below 7 minute mileing but was carrying lots of weight.  Never had any injuries apart from blisters (at first) and the very occasional sprain.
  • werll, theres some good opinons on here and it seems that in the main there quite a bit of agreement about the amount of toys/gadgets etc etc we can use to "imrpove performance"... Mmmm... be interesting to see what an "athlete" thinks.

    Pug image

  • well

    Ive only ever run in proper shoes, and as ive hadprecious little in the way of injury after 70 marathons-im going to stick witht that

    But, like Corinth i could borrow a pair of boots and walk 40 miles withno issues-maybe my biomechanics are ok, even though i am overweight

    as for the special foods-well-i dont really do those

  • I've got mixed views on this.  I'm a personal trainer and final year physio student who runs the odd ultra.  I'm personally pretty lucky that all i've ever had is a bit of plantar fasciitis, but plenty of my customers have had problems that would definitely have kept them out for longer had it not been for injury treatment, postural adaptations or better shoes/technique.

     That said, small problems can seem massive when we analyse them too much.  You can drive yourself mad linking one thing to another.  The average runner might get back pain, then they're told their shoes aren't appropriate.  They'll then get "specialist" shoes or even have orthotics made, when there's every chance the problem might well be something else, such as muscle tightness.  

     Even problems as common as plantar fasciitis clear up on their own eventually (even though it does take over a year sometimes!).  I think there's a lot to be said about trying to have active recoveries and not wrap ourselves up in too much cotton wool. 

    The increase in problems might be due to the generally poor condition people are in in comparison to even 20 years ago.  Perversely, running's more popular now we're fatter, and maybe this means we've got more chance of getting injured.  

     I think on the whole we should get our heads down and get on with it, but also listen to our bodies to an extent.  Hmmm. Clear as mud. 

  • "In my late teens/early 20s" - well in my late teens I could do many things I can't do now (such as go out to a club, get drunk, then go for a run the next morning). When I was a teenager I could run reasonably long distances with no problems at all. I started running again a couple of years ago and I was getting all sorts of injuries (ankle, knee, hip). Turned out I needed orthotics - I bought them and now have no problems at all. I certainly wouldn't want to run a marathon in plimpsoles, I would't be able to walk again if I did!
  • I think the one thing not mentioned so far when it comes to hi tech running shoes,orthotics etc is  - HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU SPEND ON THESE THINGS ?

     Me - Im a cheapskate runner - if its in a sale and it fits I'll run in it.  Maybe im lucky and dont have any medical conditions to contend with but I also used to work in retail selling for 20 years and I know the power of advertising and a good salesman/ woman.

    If they can make you think you need it - then you need it. Many so called essentials are merely fashion trends that you will laugh at in a few years time. Everyone ran with a sweat band on their head in the eighties surely !!

    Saying that - i agree a good pair of trainers is a good buy - BUT  Ive never spent over £25 for a pair yet and they have never given me problems - may not be top brand names but top brands dont make you fast.

    Sometimes after a run I ache in the calfs or have a blister or three, maybe my hips are hurting but I assume thats because ive run too far or im getting to old - thats life (on a budget)

  •  I don't think we've been pampered so much as brain washed.  The vast majority of runners readily believe that they require big padded shoes in order to run without injury, whereas it's actually the shoes themselves which prevent runners from running properly.

    If you don't believe me, try running barefoot for 50m on a hard surface and see how long you keep landing on your heels - it's not natural to land on your heels (whcih is why none of the top atheletes do)

    Download the free book from , its great - some of his interval session were absolutely nuts.  Chapter 3 is good. 

    As he says:

    "A runner whose style causes him or her to overstride, striking the ground heel-first with
    straightened knee joints, is running on a very short road to the doctor's office."

    When all you had were plimsols to wear, you couldn't do it for very long before your joints gave howls of protest.. now everyone wears thick padded shoes that prevent them from running right and mask the pain which might otherwise alert them to such abysmal technique!

    Check out for a more modern approach to running technique, there's plenty of advice and the book can be had for £23 (hurrah for the weak dollar).  A bit of dedication and practice will bring great rewards, and all I can say is your joints and your wallet will thank you profusely in a few years time image

  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭

    Hurrah, this is something I've always thought.
    I run i half decent shoes but only ever buy then 40-50% off in the sales once the 'new model' is out. I used to get blisters but sure that was due to having the wrong size rather than the wrong shoe.

    Thik scarecrow has it right and that a lot of injury problems are more related to ever more sedantry lifestyles than even 20 years ago. Far more jobs now are either office based or even home based where the commute constitutes a 10ft walk from the kitchen to the study..

    In my opinion shakes, gels and the like are more of a placebo , you think they help so therefore you feel more pschologically stronger. It still makes me laugh that even at a 10km you get the die-hards with several gels tucked into a belt. Will tehy really have an impact over 6 miles??? (Granted there may be  a case in longer events, but a lot of it is clever marketing).

    feel the same about 'skins' , garmins and HRMs and so on. Despite all these aids to training, as a nation we are not in the same league as we were 30 years ago, or indeed with a multitude of 3rd world countries today.
    Its also a function of the consumerist society we live in and the need to have all mod-cons. By and large most people (or more specifically men) are gadget and statistics geeks so anything that downloads into your PC is a 'must have'. My missus thinks I'm a geek as I write down approximate mileage in my logbook with a biro, I just point her towards the training thread to show that I'm still in the dark ages...


  • I must say that I don't use any specialist equipment apart from the shoes and custom orthotics.

    I have a stopwatch function on my watch, eat jelly babies and cereal bars and don't have an HRM.

  • I spent last year not being ble to run due to a mal tracking kneecap - i spent 2 months starting from scratch barefoot on the track - a slow build up process and now even when I run is shoes (which are really way to padded for my liking ow) I can adjust my footfall - now forefoot to remove any twinges and don't suffer any after affects other than sore muscles that are just getting used to running properly - in future I will be buying cheap trainers with alot less padding

    I am not biomechanically sound by any stretch of the imagination I over prnate in padded shoes and you can see that oneleg is stilla bit twisted at th emoment  - but running barefoot, and I will endeavour do do all track sessions barefoot, has made thedifference to my injury not the shoes 

  • HRM's are a double edged sword. I have asthma and it kicks in at about 171bpm, so I try to keep below that. However, when I am getting near it, I look at my HRM and instantly decide I'm tired! So now I run without it occasionally.

    Shoes are a different matter. I was told I had a biomechanically efficient footstrike, when in reality I overpronate like Eric Morecambe dancing in "Bring Me Sunshine"! I suffered horrendous pain in neutral shoes. Since moving to Motion Control I have been injury free. Make of that what you will.

    I will take a Power Bar if I'm doing a run over 90 minutes and they seem to give me a kick. I agree that 10k-ers look quite funny loaded up with all manner of potions!

    God bless Jelly Babies and Bananas. And good old fashioned water!


  • Looking back at our most successful runners, the likes of Coe, Ovett, and going back Ron Hill, Basil Heatley, Jim Alder, they were all running times our current crop of male distance runners would die for. An dfurther back, the likes of Jim Peters, all of these guys were running in plimpsole etc just the basics. I remeber a few years back at the Roding Valley Half Marathon, an elderly Woodford Green official who was loading up the lorry to take out the water for the course and he said to his equally old colleague 'why do we need all this water, why would runners need water on a cold day like this - we didn't have it in my day'

    Attitudes have definitley changed not necessarily for the better - Running is definitely an industry now -

    Mind when I was running at my best (many years ago now, I wish Garmin's had been invented - more accurate than our - 7 minutes equals 1 mile jogging -

  • Maddy 

    If you can find a stockist then I would definitely recommend getting a pair of Puma H Streets, they're meant to be fashion shoes but they lasted me for 18 months of running (which included about 15 10ks and a half marathon).  They're perfect for forefoot runners, I got mine from a factory outlet in Bicester for £20 and only stopped using them because I wore the sole almost completely away image

  • I suspect there are some people for whom running shoe style makes no difference and they can run in anything.

    Women have always had more of a problem due to wider hips and the angle of their legs to foot. Far more women are running nowadays - maybe they have contributed to the change in shoe design (just a thought) 

    Maybe the men have driven the toy market ? 

    A lot of good women runners (amateur) have an androgenous body shape 

    I have had numerous soft tissue problems.......they are not in my head. I have ignored and continued to run making them worse to the point of limping when I walk. Irritating periods of not running to allow for recovery  has made me keen to wear shoes/orthotics to prevent future problems.

    Running is far more popular and I just wonder if there are more people persisting in running that in the past would have said OK I'm just *not* meant to run. If I didn't have the help of a physio/podiatrist I would not have been able to continue.

    Similar idea to what Tufat Lady said .........more expectations but with a lower level of 'ability' 

  • I'm one of those not-a-natural-athlete people, and I agree that our sport is saturated with consumer lifestyle products offering performance benefits which are largely imaginary.

    I *do* benefit from cushioned shoes - I've got femoral anteversion, a functional leg-length discrepancy and asymmetrical underpronation, and my attempts to use minimal trainers for my training runs led to shin-splints which improved when I returned to running on mattresses. And I love my Garmin!

    But compression garments ... protein shakes (and most "sports nutrition" products) ... supplements ... sports massage ... magic sticks ...  Chi running courses ... I see them as being in the same league as the cosmetics department at Harrods. Full of magical claims, but I'm not interested in going there image

  • Does anyone else think that some expensive cushioned running shoes feel like you are running in platform heels?

  • Here's my opinion for what it's worth!

    If you run on phard surfaces than cushioning is advisable. Cheap running shoes as long as they are comfortable are just as good as expensice running shoes for this purpose (they may not last as long, perhaps)

    All shoes should allow for some 'natural movement' of the foot 

    Problems arise when, cushioning wears out or people clock up many miles in the same shoe. Rotating shoes (different types) reduces the risk of overuse injury.


    Better to alternate with 2 cheaper (different) shoes, than own a single expensive pair!

  • Agree with Mrs Pig that there are many more peeps running than there used to be. I suspect that, in the old days, peeps would give up due to injury etc leaving only those with a natural talent and good biomechanics.

    I came to runing in my 40's, carry far too much weight and several biomechanical problems. Cushioned shoes and orthotics help keep me on the road. As to the 'toys' well, that's up to the individual, there will always be some that love 'em and some that hate 'em.

  • Does anyone think that better biomechanics can be easily learned (just like proper swimming technique) and that good biomechanics (or technique) can remove the need for expensive cushioned shoes and orthotics in 99% of runners?

    Does anyone wonder how generations of Africans (for instance) can run barefoot over long distances on hard surfaces without crippling them all? 

  • Yappety - i missed your lastpost sorry - I will get some H streets as soon as I can.  I don't need the cushioning as such I would just like to protect my skin - my legs are still adjusting to the new style and though I doubt by running barefoot my biomechanics are perfect i suspect they are getting better as teh muslces work and realign themselve
  • As a percentage of the population, how many Africans really do run over long distances etc? I know it's our perception that they all do, but I suspect that might not be accurate.

    I'm sure that there are many British peeps who could do the same, just as I suspect there are many Africans who cannot.

    As for learning good biomechanics - no amount of training is going to even up leg length discrepancy or many other problems.

  • or my degenerative arthritis of the lumbar region - if I don't wear good shoes, I suffer!

  • Hi peeps

    I'd agree that there are too many toys and gimmicks - I never bother with any protein shakes, sports drinks etc as I think you can make up your own food and drink to suit.  Compression socks seem a bit daft.  I am getting a HRM (after some deliberation I decided i didn't need a GPS thing) but some of the time I do just like to run on 'feel'.

    But as far as physio, specific shoes etc goes - at the moment I need these.

    I'm not a natural athlete and got into running after years of inactivity, not a gradual build-up of consistent exercise.  I'm got a congenital hip problem which makes one leg naturally turn inwards and have suffered lots of lower-leg injury problems because of weak glutes and poor posture and alignment (I'm now doing exercises to sort this out).  My biomechanical problems meant I found sport very difficult at school as my co-ordination was rotten, but i didn't even realise until I started seeing a physio recently that I've been actually running and walking 'incorrectly' my entire life.

    Okay - so i'm not going to need physio forever.  But I do overpronate, and this coupled with other anatomical oddities mean not having the right shoes would do further damage.  I also needed someone 'professional' to get me on the right lines, as no-one (other than hubby occasionally commenting that I 'walked weird' image) ever picked up on it.  I'm trying to correct what's been wrong for years.

    Back in the past I might well have been one of those people who wasn't 'meant' to run but I enjoy it so what the hell - I'm not trying to make things too easy for myself; I'm just trying to make things possible.  Cross-training is also helping.

    It's all probably part of being a product of modern society - we have to artificially invent exertion for ourselves, unlike our recent ancestors who did plenty of physical exertion as a natural part of their daily lives and were well accustomed to doing so as a matter of course.

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