"The more you know, the less you need"
- Yvon Chouinard
If running the 246 kilometers of the Spartathlon race isn't for the faint of heart, how about covering those six marathons in a pair of simple sandals?
Probably not the first piece of advice you'd get in your local running store. In fact, most people would probably tell you that you were insane to even try.
Well, watch me.
The legend of Pheidippides, has him running roughly 250 kilometers wearing the standard outfit of his time - toga and sandals - asking the Spartans for help during the battle of Marathon.
The entire race of Spartathlon is built around this legend, so what could be more appropriate that honoring the heritage and doing the race in sandals? I'll probably opt out of the toga, though.
To the best of my knowledge this hasn't been done before, but that's not really the reason.
I've been running in minimalist footwear for 10 years, and as every minimalist runner will attest, your feet get wider when they're allowed. Also, you grow to really dislike anything that feels like a constraint on the free movement of your feet.
So when it comes to picking the right footwear for the Spartathlon, sandals are the perfect option - in fact it seems like my only option. I'm not running the Spartathlon in sandals to prove anything, but simply because it's my #1 preference of footwear.
The sun will be up and temperatures will be well above 30 degrees celcius all day, so what could possibly be nicer than free ventilation for you feet?
Of course it can be done. Read Chris McDougall's bestseller, Born to Run for real life examples of humans doing this in our day and age.
Common sense says that the longer you run, the more you need to wrap yourself in protective footwear. I say the longer you run, the more you have to rely on good running form to get you there, and get you there injury free.
I've never had more than a few milimeters of protection under my feet while running distances of up to 170k, so I'm not at all doubting my choice of footwear, though of course I'm dreading the race, the distance and the heat in itself.
In general I'm no fan of the "no pain, no gain" approach to training, and just as I prefer minimalist footwear, I prefer to limit my training to what's really needed for each race I attend, instead of just blindly eating miles.
This is how I managed to run a sub-3 hour marathon on about 100k of monthly training.
I'd like to take you along this minimalistic journey to the Spartathlon. Show you how an alternative path may prove just as valid as the "volume is king" approach.
See you next time.
Update: this next article is still pending, but in the mean time, check out Wanna run long? Forget about running.