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I was in Egypt over Christmas (yes, it was
lovely, thanks) and I saw camels up close
for the first time. Their feet are amazing.
They look like hooves but, instead of
being hard, are soft and yielding. On soft
terrain, the weight is spread by the
squashing of the feet. Hard, uneven,
is leveled by the soft feet, the
bumps being absorbed and keeping the
This led me to think about a running
for uneven terrain, or a walking boot for
those that want a slower pace. It would
have about 3 inches of gel around the
outside of the sole, not stacked like a
platform, but wrapped around, as if the
shoe is a frog emerging from frogspawn.
The shoe would level off uneven
soften impacts (nice for the knees),
recover some of the evergy of impact by
springing back (only useful if running) as
well as making you that little bit taller. It
take a while to get used to the action and
you'd have to spend the odd evening
squirting some gel repairer into the splits
caused by some of the nastier sharper
rocks but you'd bound up mountains that
||And I was hoping for a school of animal communication that got down to the yolk level.
||I'm worried quite a lot of energy might go in frictional losses within the gel as it deforms which would make the experience more like running in sand than running on a trampoline.
||i thought that too. and surely the gel would absorb energy from the leg as you push off the ground?
||It probably would, rainbow. My original
thought was a running shoe where you
might be able to tune the density of the
gel to provide a bounce at the right speed
to recover some energy. For a walking
shoe it would be lost, so I guess you don't
want the gel to be too soft.
||Sounds like you would need a dilatant gel.
||<obligatory reference>And the shoe would have camel toes?</or>
||And when it coems to bounding up mountains, I'd remind you that camels' feet are designed to walk on sandy deserts. Goats' and sheeps' hooves, designed to bound up mountains, are narrow and hard.
||2f: I'm looking for the reverse. I'm
looking for something that's going to
give, then rebound when hit hard (for
running), but not yield too much for a
normal stride so that it doesn't sap your
energy. Nice try, though.
||DrC: ...and yet, that is where I saw the
camels. Happily trotting up (and down)
a mountain. They looked comfortable.
Not as good as they do on flat sand but
more comfortable than a human on the
same uneven sloped surface.
||If the trainer was air-filled rather than gel-filled this might prevent so much energy getting lost to friction. Also something else to think about is having the trainers connected via flexible hoses to squeezable balloon-like things held in the hands. Then by squeezing and releasing in correct syncopation with your feet hitting the ground you'll get exactly the right pattern of 'give' for your stride pattern and you can vary this to best match the terrain - and you'll build up your forearm muscles while you run.
||"If the trainer was air-filled rather than
gel-filled..." -- bringing a whole new
definition to the phrase 'flat footed'.
||"If the trainer was air-filled rather than...." You'd sound like two over energetic flatulent whoopie cushions.
||That would wear out like nobody's business.