Minimalist Running -- The New Way to Run

by Regi_B

Run without extra cushioning. It is the new, better way to run.

What Is Minimalist Running?

There is a craze afoot in running -- one that seems here to stay. People are giving up those uber-padded conventional running shoes for something with almost no cushioning beneath the sole.

Sure, people like me who minimalist run have to learn a new stride, and have to pay more attention to where they step, but the benefits to the body make such changes totally worthwhile!

Why Is Minimalist Running Better?

As I was considering getting into minimalist running -- and I considered far too long, because I am a large person running to get smaller -- I read of how people were experiencing less joint pain, no shin splints, and a reduction of all the ailments that can come with running.

The philosophy here is essentially that our ancient, hunting and gathering ancestors ran for millenia without the supposed aid of crazily padded shoes, and they ran on the balls of their feet, letting the arches do the cushioning, so why can't we?

In my own experience, I have gone from having lots of persistent pain due to running to now having very little pain from it. Most notably, having run in minimalist shoes for hundreds of miles now, including trail running, I have never once turned an ankle.

In short, my view is minimalist running is way better.

What Gear Do You Need to Minimalist Run?

What do we use in minimalist running?

A different pair of shoes.

Some people call them "barefoot shoes" -- but that is a clear misnomer. Other folks call them "toe shoes", but only some brands sell minimalist shoes with toes showing.

The key element of minimalist running shoes is that they feature minimal outsoles and padding, to provide the runner more feel for the terrain, and to induce a more natural "foot strike" (one without the heel contacting the ground first).

Minimalist Running Shoes I Love

Merrell Women's Glove 4 Trail Runner

Trail running shoe

Merrell Women's Trail Glove 5 Sneaker

Created by studying the foot in motion, this trainer is designed to enhance the foot’s natural ability to stabilize the body during Rapid changes in movement.


Who Can Do It?

I personally think anybody with the physical capacity to run has the ability to run in the minimalist style. That said, some folks think flat-footedness stands directly in the way of minimalist running, but there are -- in fact -- flat footed minimalist runners.

Also, I waited a year before I finally took the leap, because I have been fighting my weight most of my life (despite my active nature), and so I worried that I just "had to have" conventional, padded running shoes. I was wrong, way wrong! (And I am running my way to my goal weight everyday!)

How Do I Start Minimalist Running?

First things first. Decide if you want to be a barefoot runner or a minimalist runner.

If you decide for minimalist, buy a pair of minimalist running shoes, then prepare to start slowly.

You may think you are ready to hit the ground running in your new, minimal shoes. In fact, you are not -- everyone just has to start slowly with this type of running.

Why is that? Different strides -- different foot strikes -- require different muscles.

As a minimalist runner, I have experienced it first hand. I did not even make it a half-mile my first day out. It took me a week to go a mile.

Running on the balls of your feet, instead of rolling from your heel to your toes, relies heavily on your calf muscles. What is more, your soles have to get used to the reduced padding.

How long before you can go for distance? Your body will let you know.

Mine did, and now I am training to run a marathon in my minimalist shoes. Not bad for a fat guy!

Updated: 01/26/2012, Regi_B
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