POSE Method, heel strikes, and evil shoe companies
This is a post of some comments I placed on the ultra list.
Since about March of 2009, I have not been able to run in shoes with the usual 1/2" elevation of the heel without really bothering my knees. I had run in cross country flats prior to this and a little bit barefoot but as of March, getting rid of my heels has become mandatory. Cross country flats work well on dirt tracks and trails but they are not flexible enough to run long distances on paved surfaces. I've used Mizuno Revolver "flats" in a road 50k. There is some heel build-up to them but not as much as the usual trainer. I've tried cutting off the heel of my trainers (as described by Anton Krupicka) but it is hard to get it right for road work and the shoe is still somewhat inflexible. Sidewalks are just too abrasive for me to run more than about 8 miles barefoot. Recently, I've had the best luck for road running with moccasins (from Tandy Leather Company - nfi) or water socks without the insoles (Body Glove, again nfi). The good thing about these choices is that they are cheap - $35 for the moccasin kit, $20 for the water socks. These are taking some getting used to. I ran 18 today in the moccasins and the skin on the ball of my foot is sore, particularly where I have some corns. FWIW, I do not like the five fingers. The first pair I had required me to wear socks and started falling apart. The second pair gave me a blister on the first run.
An earlier poster stated something to the effect that you can be a forefoot striker with heels. Certainly that is true but there is more tension in the ankle and knee and less shock absorption with higher heels. The same is true with running in flats - lack of flexibility in the sole means that flexing of the ankle needs to absorb shock that could have been absorbed by the foot. This seems to become an issue on paved surfaces but not dirt, at least for me.
I have a couple of pairs of racing shoes (the Mizunos and some Nike Zoom XC) which I'll reserve for racing but for practice runs, I'm going with the water socks and the moccasins and barefoot in the grass for recovery runs. I'm also trying to work on the strength of my knees.