Running Addict 'Glad' to Cross 2,000 Mile Mark
A year long goal to run 2,000 miles in 2011 is fulfilled with hours to spare.
A South Orange man recently fulfilled his goal of running 2,000 miles in the year 2011. And he did most of it in custom running sandals he and his wife make themselves.
After a great deal of research and trial and error, Rich Gladstone, and his wife, Jennie Amias, have a fledgling business in crafting and selling what they now call GladSoles. Spurred on by Gladstone’s running “addiction,” inspired by the Vibram FiveFinger ('gorilla-toed') shoes, ancient Huarache sandals and Christopher McDougall’s book Born To Run; and encouraged by positive reviews from friends and family, the couple began showcasing their footwear to the public this summer.
“For me, it’s so worth it. I must have gone through at least 15 or 20 running sneakers over the past few years, just trying to figure out [what felt the best],” said Gladstone, 42, who after years of playing sports as a child and teenager began running as an adult to lose weight and improve his tennis game. “I thought you run, there’s some pain and you deal with it, but I was always happy to be done with my run.”
Gladstone says it was only when he began exploring minimalist running—running barefoot or without cushioned footwear—that he actually began to enjoy the activity. “There’s a large community of injured runners out there who go running everyday or every week and they complain constantly about knee problems, back problems, and I noticed that my knees could only take about three or four days of running a week.”
Gladstone began looking into better methods of reducing the stress on his knees, and he says when he began running in the FiveFinger shoes he felt an immediate difference.
“I noticed that I could run pretty much every day and I didn’t have any more knee problems,” he said. “It’s because of the way you land when you’re wearing no shoes, or minimalist shoes; you land on the front part of your foot, whereas when you’re [running on] cushioned [shoes], you’re more apt to land on your heels… It’s almost like your momentum stops every time you land, and that causes shocks to go up your whole body.”
According to Gladstone and Amias, the balls of your feet are designed to absorb the impact from walking and running, not your heels. GladSoles and other minimalist shoes change the way you step, so instead of landing on your heels you land on the balls of your feet.
“Everything aligns better when you get rid of the cushioning,” said Gladstone. “You make your body work the way it’s designed to work.”
The couple says that what sets their sandals apart from those of similar companies is that each pair is custom made for each individual foot, and that they are completely free of animal products, like leather. Most of their business thus far is from people who do yoga or who just prefer being barefoot. Runners, according to Gladstone, are proving to be a more fickle market, but the couple says they are optimistic that the growing natural running movement will continue to gather momentum.
As for his goal of running 2,000 miles this year, Gladstone completed it on Christmas day by running the final mile at the South Mountain Reservation. As of Dec. 29, he has run 2,024 miles in 2011. And he says he’s not planning on taking time off as long as he continues to feel good.
“In terms of knee pain, I don’t have any. I picked 2,000 [miles] because I thought it was unobtainable, so I thought it would keep me going throughout the year," said Gladstone.
Next year, he says his resolution may be to beat his previous 5k time of 19:14.
For more information on GladSoles, visit gladsoles.com.