Minimalist running

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22/09/2013 at 12:33
Hi folks, looking for some advice on the best minimalist running shoe for someone who as an under-pronator, has spent the most part of my running life in a cushioned shoe. My shoe of choice is Brooks, so i am looking to switch over from cushioned to the Pure Connect shoe, which has been getting very good reviews. Is this a good starter shoe for someone like me, of are there better choices out there?
22/09/2013 at 14:05

I'm not in any way suggestingthat this is a bad idea but I'd be genuinely interested to know why you are thinking about making the switch.

22/09/2013 at 15:56
I heard that minimalist shoes can improve supination problems by encouraging a midfoot strike. Two of my work colleagues, both of whom suffer from suppination, have made the switch to a minimalist shoe and feel that their gait has improved.

I would like to know if others have made the transition and what there experiences have been and if good, what shoe they would recommend?
22/09/2013 at 23:33

You can try to change your running gait without purchasing minimalist shoes though wearing the minimalist shoes will help.  If you heel strike and you run this way in minimalist shoes it will hurt.  I ran in socks on a treadmill to get used to it at first.

I went the whole hog and bought Vibram 5 Fingers (Bikila LS) last year and while the switching of running styles was relatively easy for me, the transition stage is a long slow process - not to mention the calf pain. 

I was starting back from an 18 month gap due to achilles injury so the fact you start at 400-600 metres and increase this by 10% each run (according to many barefoot running sources - I had a long time to do the research  ) didnt drive me nuts though I can imagine a regular runner would always want to push it further and quicker..... the phrase TMTS (too much too soon) is used a lot to describe this.

23/09/2013 at 21:56
Thanks for the feedback. Flob, my suppination is on striking/landing. So what would be a compromise between a cushioned shoe and minimalist shoe - the Nike Free 5.0?
23/09/2013 at 22:10

Looking at the brookes cadence my self for the same reasons im curently being coached to run midfoot and have been advised to go to a minimalist shoe  they dont come cheap tho hope its worth the transittion !!

15/10/2013 at 15:37

I'm just getting used to a pair of nike free 3.0s. As you have said, they do force you to change style. You wouldn't want to heel strike in them. And take it slow. You will get pain in your calves. But I feel that it has all been worth it. The only thing that is slightly uncomfortable is running fast down hill. 

15/10/2013 at 18:44

I've just bought some Brooks Cadence (see other thread about Brooks sizing/smaller than usual?). These fit like a glove and I love them. More support than a 'minimal minimalist' shoe...if that makes sense. They weigh about 260g and seem to be mid range in terms of weight between a usual shoe and a racer, as a result they offer a fair bit more support.

However....I over pronate and was looking for something lighter to do track/intervals/race up to 10k. . . so they may not be suitable (if my understanding of pronation and supination is correct?) Hope that helps.

15/10/2013 at 22:22

I prefer the saucony kinvara to brooks connect! Better grip and more comfortable, I find the support reasonable on them too plus they are very slightly lighter!!!

PSC    pirate
15/10/2013 at 22:28

I'm 4 weeks into running in Nike Free 5s.  Start slow and short and build very gradually.  I was a massive heel striker and constantly getting injuries so this is a real change for me.  I am (so far) very glad to improve my gait, balance and style though and feel as if it will be worth it in the long run.

17/10/2013 at 13:11

I'm not saying you shouldn't be cautious in switching to a minimalist shoe, but just to give a different perspective - like paul r I had a long gap due to an achilles tear, then started again; kept getting calf problems.  Left it a bit longer, then started again but this time using vibrams some of the time and trail shoes the rest.  The vibrams have been great and the calf problem has pretty much gone  I didn't do a very incremental approach like paul r, but still didn't have any problems with the vibrams. 

What I don't do is run on roads, which is a completely different kettle of fish.

17/10/2013 at 21:11

I'm not sure it matters what shoe we use if we're after a minamalistic training shoe.  It should be flatish, shouldn't have a lot of rubber on the sole, and it should have enough room for the forefoot to do it's stuff.

I built up my mileage slowly in a pair of vivobarefoots and concentrated on getting my running form half decent (which I think is a life long process).

I've never had any problems with my calves; I try not to use them to propel me forward - it's a small muscle not designed to move a lot of weight.

The important things, IME, is to transition carefully and improve our running form.

18/10/2013 at 23:28

I've got a weird idea to run an Autumn Marathon next Year in VFF Bikilas (or even Xero shoes Huaraches!)

In a few weeks I start training for a spring marathon but plan on running in 'proper' shoes (depends on transition). Am up to 4 miles in VFF's thus far and 5 is planned tomorrow. I'm taking things slowly and can feel different areas of my calves as I play with footfall. One thing I have noticed is that my Cadence in 'proper' shoes averages 164spm and in the VFF's it averages 180spm. Oh, and find it harder running downhill in the vibrams at the moment (pity as Loch Ness has a 2,000ft incline but 3,000ft decline so need to work on that).

20/10/2013 at 23:25
I went with Nike Free 5.0 and can feel the benefits already, in that i can feel that i am striking the ground lighter and my running seems to be more economic. My calves did ache after the first few runs in them, however, i have increased my mileage and i haven't had any real problems. I am aware that this particular shoe doesn't respond too well to anything over 10 miles, which is perfect for me at the moment as i will be using them for next week's Bupa's Great South Run and will then look at something more minimalist once i feel i have transitioned. Thanks for all your comments, some very useful feedback.

Happy running.
08/11/2013 at 19:28

JO -- Sorry for the late come-back on this but the thread dropped off my radar...  Anyway, yes I remember reading somewhere that pronation issues are exasperated by heel striking...  I've recently got a pair of Nike Free 3.0s and combining those with an attempt at improved running form I definitely feel lighter on my feet, although as this is a recent thing I'm only doing short distances at the moment...  I hadn't heard that the Nike Frees don't respond well to anything over 10 miles...  Why is that?  Also, I'd be interested to know how your progress to date has been...  What kind of distances are you doing, and you've you changed your form, etc? 

08/11/2013 at 19:43
Re- the Nike Free I've just binned a pair that I have used since April. Over 800 miles on them and around 10x 20 milers with no issues at all.
My only complaint was they don't grip too well on the wet.
08/11/2013 at 20:40

Interesting discussion. I would like to share my journey. I started running on Kayano's (with anti pronation block). After a while I discovered the minimalistic range and different running styles. I went to a Pose running workshop and a Chi running workshop. I made videos of my running and I was not following my own style any more. That said... I switched the the Pure Flow (Brooks) and that felt great. I also bought Kinvara 3 and recently the Kinvara 4. I have the Minimus MT10 and the Minimus 10 MR (road and trail shoes) and even the Merrel Bare Access. yes yes shoe addict. They all run OK, no aches and pains. Almost all shoes have a 4 mm drop, only the Bare Access has 0 mm. that I am running longer distances I started looking at other shoes and chose recently for the Hoka! Yes.. looking at the images you might think that I am mad. But I still believe that it is OK to train feet on the shoes without any cushioning, but on the long runs it seems wiser to have something on your feet. These Hoka shoes are also 4 mm drop shoes and pretty light but with more protection.

Something to think about maybe. I still don't feel that there is only one way to run and it almost seems that runners are not 'allowed' to run in shoes, as if barefoot running is always better and more natural. Well.. let's wait and see how that holds in a couple of years. For the longer runs I am using the Hoka now.


08/11/2013 at 22:06

RunningMax -- Thanks for sharing your journey...  Agree that this is an interesting discussion...  As you've been to Chi and Pose running workshops I'm definitely interested to hear your views on those techniques.  I'm not so sure where the "runners are not allowed to run in shoes" feeling comes from...  On this site it's the "go and get gait analysis" brigade that seem to be most vocal...  That said, for me, it's more about running form than the shoes...  The minimalist shoes just enable me to get a better feel of how my feet are making contact with the ground.  I'm only about three weeks into this so I don't have a hard and fast view of things but thought it would be worth giving it ago after researching various running techniques.  Oh, my furthest distance with this is 4K so I don't currently have much of a concept of a "long" run.

Millsy -- Encouraging to hear that you've had over 800 miles from your Nike Frees.  Dare I ask what you went for after binning them?  Also, were they the 3s, 4s, or 5s?

08/11/2013 at 22:18
They were the 5's.
I'm a forefoot runner but don't really run in proper minimalist shoes. I prefer anything lightweight like a racing flat.
Now onto some Nike Lunar Spider which I picked up in TKMAXX for about 35 quid. They are ok so far, although only 4 days in.
09/11/2013 at 10:50

I think it is a journey indeed and that people also change. I probably needed the Kayano when I started running. I also had a gait analysis when I started and they seemed right for me at the time. I had a collection of trainers for the longer runs (Kayano), and later added the DS Racers and DS Trainers for shorter distances and races. For trails the Trabucco. That worked fine for me.

After a while the workshops and books.... and experiments -) I was really happy with the Pure series by Brooks and it felt different. No transition time for me. I just put on the 4mm drop Pure Flows and went along. No problem. Same with the 0 mm Merrel Bare Access. That does not seem to be the same for everyone, most people need time to adjust to a lower heel drop.

I like light weight shoes. That is one thing that I really know now. And I also found out with all the shoes that I owned and tried that some shoes are simply not right for my feet or running form. I really can't run on the Adidas Boost. It felt as if all my energy was going straight into the ground. Strange. But that made it once again clear that you can't choose a shoe because someone else likes it!

I enjoyed the Pose running as well as the Chi running. They are really different, and that became clear recently after my second Pose running clinic. I did not realize the difference in leg motion untill then. You have to feel that before you realize it. Strange. I don't know if I can really explain it in writing, because it was such an eye opener for me when it was shown to me. Pose technique is more a 'pulling' technique, with focus on the 'pull' of the foot. After that, the foot will automatically go backwards again. There is no 'wheel' as in Chi running. Strangely enough I only felt the real difference after my second Pose workshop!

During my runs I try to combine a bit of everything really. A few things are clear: straight, no bending in the hips. When I started with the Chi I tried the 'forward lean' but that resulted in some sort of hip bending (only noticed that after a video). Not good. With too much 'pulling' it does not feel comfortable in the hamstrings. Again.. not everyone is the same and I would not change a winning combination too easy. Do you have any pains and aches now while running? If not... why change at all? That is what I mean with my 'seems as if running on shoes is not allowed ay more'....If a runner does well on heavy cushioned shoes, runs comfortable etc. why change it?

But it is good to know about all elements of running forms. Just keep whatever suits you (same with cadence...180 might be optimal but maybe not for everyone). Let someone else make a video when you are running. That is so helpful!

Anyway.. enough said. Experiment, choose and pay attention to how everything feels during and after running. Try different shoes. The lighter 'minimalistic' shoes are great, but I now feel that on the longer (13-30 miles) runs I need a little more (so no barefoot running for me). 

Keep running


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