The Trainers obsession continues – Nike FlyKnit Vs Vibram FiveFingers

Arrgghh – what’s wrong with me? I’m obsessed! Completely obsessed that is with trainers!
Basically I always have been, but since it was announced last week that Nike have gone and created some new era in trainer technology with the Nike FlyKnit , I’ve taken it to a whole new level of interest in what I put on my feet.

Ahh … priddy …..

So what’s this FlyKnit stuff about then? Well if you watch the ‘well where did it come from’ video it says it’s all about two things – the fit and the weight …

And if you watch the ‘you know you want a pair don’t you’ video, it’s all about how they make you feel – look at ‘em fly !! …

But here’s where I start to feel very uncomfortable with this whole thing.

You see, something else which I’m slightly obsessed with at the minute is what’s the best way to run – effectively for pace and to increase my chances of staying in one un-injured piece whilst running for more than a day (my current record over the past year). I’ve spoken before about the Christopher McDougall piece “The Once and Future Way to Run” in the New York Times, which basically reminds us that running is just a game between feet and floor and the more time your feet spend on the floor then the more time you waste and the floor wins …

If you heel plant – which many, many of us do, then you land with a ‘bam-bam-bam’ motion which strides way out in front of you and the rest of your body has to surge forward to catch up. You spend too much time on the ground and you’re more at risk of injury due to the forces you’re throwing through your ankles, hips, knees and torso which is trying frantically to catch up your feet every time you hit the ground.

If you land on the ball of your foot as it passes under you, then you land with a ‘pfft’ and your body just glides along above you without wasting energy or overworking any of your stabilising muscles.

Sounds simple right? But trying to change your running style is indeed like trying to change how you walk – so that’s not gonna be easy.

What has happened though to ‘help’ us to find this perfect running form is we’re seeing an influx of trainers hitting the markets – indeed Up & Running this week have started to sell Brooks Pure and I noticed Start Fitness have launched sales of the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila and have a whole section now devoted to Barefoot running.

This is all well and good, but is a lighter pair of trainers gonna makes you run faster ? No.

Is a closer fitting shoe gonna make you more efficient? No.

Is running in a pair of barefoot running shoes without knowing how to ‘run barefoot’ gonna cause you all manner of problems? Yes.

You see – there’s a difference between sticking a pair of these shoes on and going out for a run as you norally would and putting them on and running in them the way they’ve been designed for. Racing flats, spikes or minimalist shoes have no support for your heels, so if you go out and run in them and still run with a heel plant action you’re a) wasting your money and b) probably gonna cost yourself your running days too in the long run. Invest in the shoes, but also invest in learning how to run in minimalist trainers.

Look at the Nike video again, how does the guy in the advert land?


This isn’t the only thing I’ve got to say though on the FlyKnit thing – no-no-no you see it’s unearthed another way they’re conspiring against us and making our sport a little too elitist even for the Elite!

Following the announcement of Nike FlyKnit – Paula Radcliffe then posts on Twitter something along the lines of “guess what guys – I’ve been using them for yonks – now try and catch me!”

Or in her words:

@PaulajRadcliffe “ Cool video on Nike Flyknit , I have been using it for a while and had no idea what it was called #iguessididntneedtoknow

And then Nike go in with:

@Nike: “Nike Flyknit is the future of footwear design. #innovate” For those who were wondering what Abdi and Ritz wore”

So now I become a regular Columbo of the trainer world and indeed the Abdi and Ritz trainers debate (of which one is here on Runners World) :

And there you have it – problem solved – Abdi and Ritz are wearing aforementioned Nike Flyknit.

So the 3rd and 4th placed athletes in the US Marathon trials finished in Flyknits, something which hadn’t even been announced yet and our best Olympic marathon hopeful for the London 2012 has been wearing her pair in already too (way to go Paula – I feel I need to insert something here that I’m a fan!) and this isn’t the first time this has happened – any regulars will have seen my previous post about trainers where we saw similar happenings in Adidas Adios 2 being used ahead or release and the same in the spike department by Mo Farah in Nike Zooms (full post here - Any excuse to buy new trainers).

Still with my Columbo hat on – I’ve started to become obsessed with the finer details of trainers and who’s wearing what. The Tokyo Marathon was held last weekend and I was onto Google looking not just for the results, but for photos of the top finishers to see what they had on their feet (Nike Zoom Streak 3s if you’re even slightly interested – the pre-release of FlyKints not making their way to Japan yet then?)!

My team mate Yared Hagos won the Tunbridge Wells half marathon last weekend and I’ve been watching his finishing video not just to see him win, but to study his running form (it’s here and absolutely priceless), ‘pfft, pfft’ pfft’ …

Sad maybe but I think there is some sort of point to this – honest.

Point is that technology and science has a lot to answer for in a lot of ways and it is changing the face of our sport as whatever is discovered from or developed for the Elite field to get them Olympic Gold or to allow them to break records as pay off for sponsorship deals, will filter down into our soles too. And yes if you embrace it and do your research these new findings will serve you well – but don’t buy too much into the marketing hype if it’s not going to help you in the long run.

Flyknit’s are marketed as the lightest ever – they’re not, Nike Lunaracers were lighter.

My racing flat of choice - Nike Lunaracer - does it get lighter than flywire

My racing flat of choice - Nike Lunaracer - doesn't get lighter than foam and flywire

Vibra FiveFingers are marketed as barefoot running shoes – which isn’t strictly true – they’re not ‘running shoes which will give you a running barefoot style’ you can chucked em on and run however you like in them and I’m sure you calves will thank you the day after.

Vibram FiveFingers - Bikila

Are you really ready to go out for a run in these?

Am I done being obsessed with trainers? absolutely not, but it’s just given me even more food for thought on the mechanics of this whole feet Vs floor game we play. I’m off now to do my 100-ups, chuck some weights about while standing on one foot and crunch my way to a solid core – a much more worthy investment …

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