On Friday I was lucky enough to sit in on a presentation by Dr. Irene Davis, Director of the Spaulding National Running Center in Boston. Known as the “Barefoot Running Professor,” Dr. Davis has contributed quite a lot to the scientific community about the biomechanics and science behind running.

A coworker of mine notified me Dr. Davis was coming to campus, knowing that most of the list-serv e-mails that we get typically end up in my trash box automatically. He was kind enough to point out this one might be worth checking out. He was right. I skipped out of work to get up to South Campus a bit early and was lucky enough not to get a parking ticket for my potentially risky parking spot.

The actual lecture was pretty fantastic. She covered a brief history of shoes, from sandals found in volcanic rubble dating back to 5,500 years ago, to the modern-day, stability-control, ultrapadding, motion-control gibberish we have now. It was pretty interesting to see the evolution over time, especially now that there has been push back from some in the running community who favor a more minimal shoe.

The part of the lecture I actually most enjoyed however was the part on the biomechanics behind running. The cold, hard science behind running, behind injury. Learning about the rate of loading of force on the joints, the angles of foot strike and how they differ based on foot wear, and all other sorts of torsion forces behind running was fascinating. I know, I’m a nerd. What I liked most of all, though, was seeing scientific evidence behind the argument of shod versus barefoot. Regardless of the hypothesis of which is better, it is refreshing to see that it isn’t just a blind argument. It is refreshing to see real tests and physics with real data.

I have been questioning my whole minimalist-shoe mentality after the B.A.A. 5K, where I was one of only a few wearing those silly Vibram shoes. It made me question my decisions and second guess what I thought was right. After seeing this presentation, I am now more confident that it is a valid option, and I am recommitted to the whole minimalist idea.