Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same
At Stanford University, California, two sales representatives from Nike were watching the athletics team practise. Part of their job was to gather feedback from the company’s sponsored runners about which shoes they preferred.
Unfortunately, it was proving difficult that day as the runners all seemed to prefer… nothing.
‘Didn’t we send you enough shoes?’ they asked head coach Vin Lananna. They had, he was just refusing to use them.
‘I can’t prove this,’ the well-respected coach told them.
‘But I believe that when my runners train barefoot they run faster and suffer fewer injuries.’
Nike sponsored the Stanford team as they were the best of the very best. Needless to say, the reps were a little disturbed to hear that Lananna felt the best shoes they had to offer them were not as good as no shoes at all.
When I was told this anecdote it came as no surprise. I’d spent years struggling with a variety of running-related injuries, each time trading up to more expensive shoes, which seemed to make no difference. I’d lost count of the amount of money I’d handed over at shops and sports-injury clinics – eventually ending with advice from my doctor to give it up and ‘buy a bike’.
And I wasn’t on my own. Every year, anywhere from 65 to 80 per cent of all runners suffer an injury. No matter who you are, no matter how much you run, your odds of getting hurt are the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, fast or slow, pudgy or taut as a racehorse, your feet are still in the danger zone.
But why? How come Roger Bannister could charge out of his Oxford lab every day, pound around a hard cinder track in thin leather slippers, not only getting faster but never getting hurt, and set a record before lunch?