Two observations about myself by a maturing runner

I learned two things about myself as a runner the other day.  They’re both things I think I knew for quite some time, but just kind of wormed it’s way through the crowd in my psyche (trust me, it’s crowded in there).

Observation #1:

When running any kind of speed workout, I much prefer flats and “minimal” shoes.  About a year and a half ago,  I went through a somewhat similar thought process around realizing that the Brooks Glycerin and Defyance were “too much shoe” for me.  That realization landed me smack in the middle of a love affair with the Brooks Launch.  Lately, I’ve dusted out my Brooks T6s and Green Silences, both shoes I didn’t like much when I first got them.  Now? I like them.  a lot.  Maybe even love.  Although I will admit preference to the T6s,  the ideas behind the Green Silence (reused materials, biodegradable midsoles, etc…) are more attractive to me.  Regardless, the lower profile and drop from heel to toe is what is attracting me back to both of these shoes…  I’ve been following the hype on barefoot/minimalist running with a healthy dose of skepticism, while dipping my toes in the water (pun intended) here and there.  The conclusion that I’m coming to, while completely unscientific and purely anecdotal and personal is that moving toward less shoe is good for me overall…

Observation #2:

I actually like my VFF Bikilas, and I’m looking forward to logging more miles in them safely and wisely.  Tied to observation #1 above, I bought these mainly to see what they hype was about and in the desparate hope that walking and running in them would help with the Plantar Fasciitis that I still suffer from.  While I’ve only run a couple of times in them, what I have observed is that my feet relax and feel better for days after, even after short 1 milers in them.  Again, purely anecdotal and not controlled, but real results that I’m happy to accept.  I don’t see myself as becoming a barefoot runner at all, but I do see this as a valuable tool to help me become an injury free runner.
What’s your experience with minimalism?

For more scientific evidence on both areas, check out

  1. I’m still a bit of a skeptic. I’m treading carefully towards reducing my shoe (more from a concern about their weight vs. heel-to-toe drop), but I get concerned about whether my legs will hold up to high mileage in them. I’m trying to get up the courage to do my next marathon in the Mizuno Wave Riders, which are hardly minimalist but most definitely neutral without much cushioning. I am going to try out the Saucony Kinvaras, I think, in the fall for a half-marathon and shorter races. I don’t think Brooks works for me though, the toe box doesn’t seem to treat me right. Maybe I need to try a half-size or so larger, which I won’t rule out. But I try not to burn a lot of dollars on experimenting with shoes.

  2. Greg, you’re certainly more of a high mileage runner than I am, so that would definitely be a factor. Of course, what you’re doing seems to be working for you anyway, so why change it. In my case, I really need to get a handle on the PF, so I’m experimenting.

  3. Jay, whilst I am no Speedy Gonzales, and have not run in Vibrams, I ran my fastest 5K last year, wearing a pair of racing flats. I run in Karhu, and adore those shoes. The reason I ended up with racing flats was because they were the first pair of Karhus I ever owned, and I bought them at an expo, where the guy sold them to me for 20 USD – best money I ever spent!

    • Where do you get your Karhus? I’m guessing you’re not in America, right? I don’t see them that much here…

  4. I’ve had a few chances to run/walk barefoot, and I’m quite intrigued by it, but I’d really prefer to find some kind of minimalist shoes that would give me a bit of protection from road debris. Also, often I run at the gym (this summer has been VERY hot and humid around here, which has forced me to the treadmill), and they don’t allow barefoot running.

    My quest for good minimalist shoes is somewhat hampered by my, um… cheapness! I don’t like to spend tons of money on shoes. I don’t HAVE tons of money to spend on shoes. Usually I buy running shoes at a place like Sears or Kmart, NOT my LRS. I just cannot afford to spend over $100 for a USED pair of shoes. So VFFs are out of my price range for now!

    • Melinda, check out, Peter has done a great job reviewing a lot of minimalist shoes that could help guide you!

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