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Transitioning to Minimalist Running

I’ve happily adopted the concept of minimalist running, sending a few of my traditional Asics shoes to the charity shop in order to make room for the Vibram Five Fingers and a pair of eagerly awaited RunAmoc minimal running shoes.

IMG 2971 Transitioning to Minimalist RunningI’m having to force myself not to throw caution to the wind and make every run an experiment in barefoot or minimalist running. Sensibly I’m following guidance and running 2-3 shortish runs a week in the VFFs and have been taking my long run in my standard shoes which are currently Asics Kayano 15s.

I’ve started to wonder what my end goal is though. I’ve got the Great North Run in two months time – am I hoping to run the half marathon in a pair of minimal shoes?

I think that would probably be a little unwise for me. For one thing it’s only 2 months away and my feet have been accustomed to wearing supportive shoes for decades. I’m also seriously overweight, I’d happily shed 7 stone and probably still qualify as obese which suggests that it might be a bit cruel to my feet to pound out 13 miles without any cushioning at all. Which is not to say that there isn’t a place for minimalist running shoes in my training schedule. I am very happy with the changes my new shoes have made to my running. I am more aware and run with lighter steps and I’m hopefully strengthening the infrastructure of my foot and preparing for a future with less pain.

So that leads me to wonder about the sense in switching between shoes at opposite ends of the structured continuum. Asics Kayanos are big shoes, I used to describe them as feet sized orthopaedic mattresses, I don’t think you can find very much more cushioning in a mainstream running shoe. Perhaps what I need instead is a mildly cushioned shoe for use in transitioning towards more minimalist running.

That of course leads me to wonder what that shoe would look like. I’m toying with the Nike free 3.0 which RunBlogger has admirably reviewed and described as a transitional shoe. My other option is to try the Newton Running Guidance shoe. A shoe designed with pose or chi running methods in mind and structurally designed to encourage forefoot striking.

I’m in two minds but think that perhaps the Newtons may be a step too far, introducing yet another style may not be ideal at this stage in my half marathon training, and besides the Nike Free is much cheaper.

Reviews will follow.

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{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Adele 4 July, 2010, 10:02 pm

    I read with great interest, being the proud winner of a pair of Five Fingers! I am not convinced that I will actually go the whole hog and run in them, so will watch with interest to see how you get on.

  • Pete 5 July, 2010, 12:31 am

    Thanks for the link to Runblogger – much appreciated! Having worn the Free 3.0 and the Newton guidance, I’d definitely choose the former if it were me. The Sir Isaac is still a lot of shoe, and the Gravity or Distance would be better options from Newton if you are already wearing VFFs. Another to consider is the Saucony Kinvara – very light, low drop from heel to forefoot, and I’m hearing good things about it.
    Pete

  • warriorwoman 5 July, 2010, 11:40 pm

    Thanks for the tip, I think I’ll give the Nikes a go. Even if I don’t like running in them they look like they’ll be a comfortable playing out shoe.

  • niamh 8 July, 2010, 10:31 am

    Look forward to hearing how you make the transition – I’m thinking about trying out the Vibram myself to see how they affect some back injuries I’ve had, but like you am nervous to leave all the support behind!

  • Daniele 21 October, 2010, 9:55 pm

    I have a pair of vibram 5 fingers ‘speed’. They are awesome. I slipped 2 discs in my lumbar spine and have since found out that they are crumbling.

    Nevertheless after listening to mt neurosurgeon (very reluctantly) and taking 6 month off exercise, I tried to run in my normal supportive comfy run shoes. VVV sore back afterwards. I ran barefoot on the treadmill a week later and found that my back felt awesome afterward. Someone once told me there is no better shock absorber than the arch of your foot. They were right. I blistered my feet on the treadmill as it had been on all day and was hot. I bought the vibrams, and alsthough it’s early days and i’m still easing into it, they are the best thing I ever bought. The ones I have are here:

    http://www.purekit.com/vibram-fivefingers-speed-shoe-prod21085/

    they are definitely worth a go if you have a sore back, but really ease yourself into it, as running on your toes canes your calves!!

    Good luck :)

  • warriorwoman 29 October, 2010, 4:31 pm

    I use the speed model too now and I use those on the treadmill. I love them.
    I agree with you on the role of the arch in your foot – it’s a very well designed piece of engineering, it’s ludicrous to pad it out with well concealed orthotics.
    Glad your back is much improved too.

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