Opinion: Shoe Tech and the Enko Running Shoes
By Will Lind
Image Enko Running Shoe – http://www.enko-running-shoes.com/
Would you buy it? More to the point, would you buy into it? The Enko Running Shoe promises to ‘boost your experience’ with ‘high performance shock absorption’, ‘energy storage’ and ‘boost’. This shoe has been floating around the interwebs for a small while now and I was almost tempted to simply repost on our Facebook page to check in on what the Functional Running folks out there thought. I held up a while instead to form a quick opinion, which wasn’t hard. I’m probably taking this too seriously, but I’m making a broader statement here stemming from my love of running, especially the concept of low tech, life simplifying running.
You know what, I probably would buy the Enko shoe. I’m not anti establishment or against progress, if it is legitimately progressive and in our best interest. I can’t see this being the case with this latest ‘spring on shoe’ concept, but how am I to know until I try it?
What I maintain is that technology makes us lazy and ignorant runners, as it tends to make us lazy and ignorant in most areas of life. Comfortable and fast running comes from practice. Heaps of practice. And weight loss, form correction and refinement, mobility, stretching and strengthening. That’s where better running starts, not with springs, gadgets, heels or insole support. I see a constant string of excuse making and crutch seeking, generally fed by ill-informed advice from show retailers and medical professions who have no real interest and no idea when it comes to running.
Shoes with increased tech, even just stability and support help, might be fantastic interim measures to keep someone moving and in a good mental state, but it solves nothing. In the long run you just can’t give over the responsibility to work on yourself to reduce the occurrence of injury and create an appropriate base to pursue your running goals. There’s also the case where for some people with pre-existing and genuinely permanent injury or bio mechanical interruptions, support is a necessity. Shoes aren’t evil, but they won’t make you a better runner either. They can, however, make you a worse runner.
It’s a bit far fetched to think this Enko shoe will change much at all. There have been sprung shoes in the past and there will be shoes like this in the future. My point is that technology hinders, not helps, when it comes to running better. It facilitates running at times and over distances your body isn’t ready to be running. I don’t feel tech is bad and I’m not against any attempt, because who knows, I might be wrong and this thing creates a whole new world of running opportunity. It’s also the case that so far no one has been able to blow the competition out of the water with a ‘minimalist beats built up shoe’ study, or even s ‘mid-foot strike beats heel strike’ study. There is no one way, so I stay open minded and take issue not so much at technology and the shoes, but at the distraction of the runner away from acknowledging their shortcomings and improving themselves. Like I said, technology makes lazy and ignorant runners.
I’m a minimalist shoe fan boy because having less in your shoe forces you to stop and take a look at yourself, to refine technique and to have patience with your development. With a minimalist shoe if you’re not yet strong enough or capable with your movement, you can’t run faster or longer without an increased risk of injury. This is a good thing. You become a better runner for it.
Running functionally takes honesty and action. Shoe technology provides too easy a shortcut around the hard work.
After all that, I’m intrigued by some of the developments starting to pop up. I can imagine a shoe that successfully adds speed and ease to your run being used to get people running more in their daily lives. Imagine a shoe that helpd you shave enough time off your run that it becomes viable to throw a pack on and run to work. Even if you only wear that shoe for the run to work and back at the end of the day. Or, maybe it’s a shoe that makes it easier to jog to the shops for that one small item instead of driving. A spring type contraption added to the bottom of a shoe isn’t a new concept, but I remain interested to see if they ever develop a legitimate performance enhancing product that doesn’t interfere or detract from a natural runner’s gait.
I’d still love a crack at the Enko shoe if I could get my hands on a pair. It does look kinda cool.
Have any thought on the Enko Running Shoe or running shoe technology? Share them below in the comments.