StrayceltStraycelt ✭✭✭
Been looking at the minimalist running shoes and alternatives to standard trainers, including Vibram, Nike Free. Looks like a lot less shoe for a lot more money. I'm thinking of heading back to plimsoll land following a bit of research and questioning if "Poroper running shoes" are doing more harm than good.
Would be interested in the experiences of others. Read Born to Run at Christmas and I had a lot of empathy with some of the theories.


  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Hi Tinsel,

    I asked at my running store about the viability of Vibrams for running. I was told that it's all hype and if I wanted to go "minimalist" choose Nike Free which is less support but not as radical as full bare foot. I was told to start off very slowly and be careful of my stride and footwork. I would love to try it out and am a little put off by the feedback that I got from a running professional. He said that he uses Nike free but only on shorter distances and never on tarmack.

    (Note: He could of been particularly negative because I overpronate)

  • TimeaJTimeaJ ✭✭✭
    Funnily enough, I have just finished reading Born to Run as well, which I got for Christmas. The book has certainly put a different angle onto running shoes theory and made me question things I have never questioned before. I kind of feel it has opened my eyes up a bit and now I have a more critical approach to what big shoe manufacturers claim.

    Still, I do not want to dismiss running shoes with cushioning. My common sense tells me that it is all about finding a good balance between the two extremes - going totally barefoot and running in mega thick soled gel shoes. What I have learnt is that the real issue here isn’t whether you should run barefoot, or wear a minimalist shoe, or a traditional shoe. The real issue is about HOW you run!

    Sam Murphy, who is a reputable fitness professional in the UK and has written several books about running and fitness wrote a very good article about the barefoot/minimalist shoe running debate, you can read the article here:

    I hope this helps.

  • I go to Spain every year and run barefoot on the sand with absolutely no problem. I have some Nike Free, which I got on a whim and for a song in TKMaxx three years ago and they are great for running on grass etc, not tried on hard ground. I just think the "New Barefoot Brigade" at Nike et al are scred of the backlash and loss of revenue and are hyping up and hiking up stripped out running shoes. At uni I was laughed at in the 1970's for my running shoes (tru Form £4.00 a pair) but they did the job and I was never injured. All I wanted was something to stop my feet getting shredded, never thought about support, pronation, blah, blah, blah. Became a victim in the 90's of marketing hype and went down the I' was a neutral now I pronate and need road and wish I hadn't. Ran in an old pair of Mayfly's on the treadmill and reverted naturally to mid-foot strike. No knee pain during. A bit after so I am seriously re-evaluating the lot from start to finish.
  • Good article Timea, and re-inforces my thinking. I changed form to fit the shoe as was perceived thinking and have paid for it since. I wonder if I can revert form in shoes not designed to be run that way or should I get down to Woolies(Oh No! They're extinct) and get some old fashioned plimsollsimage
  • I think the key issue here is running form. Modern cushioned running shoes can mask a whole series of weakness's in your body. Pronation in itself is not a "bad" thing - most of us do it. It's when pronation is excessive due to weakness in the glutes/core (that old chestnut again!)that if you change to minimalist running shoes you may experience problems. Running shoe manufacturers tend to sell you a shoe which will correct OP at the bottom end when actually if you strengthened at the source of the issue, the need for maximum support at the bottom end would be minimised. If you are sure you are operating with maximum strength control and balance then that is the time to think about minimalist running shoes but I feel they are not for everyone as a knee jerk reaction to reading "Born to Run". I still wear a cushioned mild support shoe on the roads, I am a midfoot striker who mildly OP's but off road I wear a minimalist shoe with no problems.
  • I bought a pair of Vibrams in the US (where I was on hols) as they are cheaper there. Don't wear them for running, just around the office etc. Ever since, my calves have been like butter as they get gradually stretched out that way. Which is nice!

    OTOH I was talking to the chap who runs our local running shop (a very good local runner) and he said he'd gone for a run in a (different) minimalist shoe, 8 miles, and though they were very comfortable at the time, his calves were then b*gg*red for two weeks after!

    ISTR also that when MT interviewed Barefoot Ted and they asked him how someone interested in minimalist shoes should start, and he said something like "at a few hundred yards a week!" image
  • I have recently made the change too and now love it! I used to be a heel striker with a bit of pronation (2160's) but have gradually got up onto my midfoot. Timea, I read BTR recently too and it totally makes sense! I never feel achey post run like I used to and if I try running how I used to it just feels really heavy and wrong!
  • Right, looks like take it easy, build up gradually and then find something at works.....bit of a challenge with a mara in March and another in April....don't think I can chop and change styles too suit or totally convert in under 9 weeks....decisions.
  • Nope, stick with what your used to until after the marathons, 9 weeks won't be long enough to change your running style and train that much.
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭

    Tinsel-Celt - If you do start to change - can you keep us updated on how you feel/get on? I'd be very interested to hear about your experience

  • I've started the change and it's all positive so far. Inspired by a need to sort out recurring knee problem post surgery. Been told I'm okay to run but getting nowhere fast was frustrating and then read BTR and bells rang. So far I've run in Nike Mayflys, which allegedly are only good for 10 x 10km races. These are one race of redundancy but I travelled 5 miles using a mid-fore foot strike with no problems whatsoever leg wise although slight discomfort next day in lower back. i followed up with a two mile dreadmill run ave 10.6kph on 1.5% incline wearing my martial arts shoes 9No cushion, no support) as a warm up before class and felt great afterwards. Might be brain tricking me but I am happiest I've been since op last March and feel I can get somewhere again without aggravating knee injuries! I've got a decent core strength, am a tad overweight, although reducing by the day from 13.5st back down towards 11st10lb target I want for VLM and have reasonable form. I have always had a conservative stride and so find the form desired much more comfortable than a longer stride, heel strike style. I may be on my way home!
  • The biometric and podiatry profession are seeing an increase in stress fractures in line with the increase in popularity of minimalist shoes, which I find interesting and often overlooked by the supporters or minimalist shoes.

    Its starting to be discussed on other blogs and sites as well.

    Make of that what you will.
  • I suppose, like a lot of these debates, stats will be pulled out to support. As previously mentioned above, if you don't adjust technique you'll end up in problems, especially if you stay, for instance, on heel strike in Vibrams...just asking for trouble. Read shedloads and becoming convinced need to find what works for me.. My style, I think and believe, is suited to the shuufle advocated by some minimalists. Can't see me going barefoot and certainly not ready to shed bucketloads of cash on a fad shoe. If court shoes/crosstrainers/daps work forme that's the road I'll take. Never dreamt of running in court shoes yet again looking at the pounding my body got on a squash court can now not think why not and what's the point of all these built up (As opposed to re-inforced) shoes? I'm sure it's a journey, just need to find the right mao to navigate with!
  • I know they discussed this on IMTalk podcast and one of the guys was trying to use minimal shoes. He's a vastly experienced athlete and he was starting off with runs of yards, and easing in very gently. So its not a quick or easy thing.....
  • I have been wearing them for 4 years and love them. Prior to that I got kitted out with cushioned shoes ..went on the treadmill and everything to get the right type and kept getting knee issues. I have had no more knee issues since wearing the vibrams.

    You do have to have patience build up but I have always been good and not pushing it too much and easing off when I need to. I run a lot and I just absolutely love how grounded I feel in these.

    Personally though, if I hadn't have had knee problems and wasn't trying to resolve that I would have never tried them. It seems in the last 4 years though they have become much more expensive and there are lots of different styles of minimal shoe now that you could use.

    I think even if you have no injury problems you may get a lot out of using them but you have to have patience...and I suppose I don't see the point of changing shoes if you are running fine in what you have.
  • Thanks irrevocable...floats my boat and is making me more confident to head minimalist. Still think Vibrams are way too expensive and interesting to note comments on the Nike Frees.
    Emmy Bug...I'm just back from a 5 mile on the dreadmill, using my oldest and least supported track shoes, again no pain and real joy experiencing every footstep without the niggles. It, for me, is the way ahead. Now to research plimsolls versus green flash versus converse. image
  • Hi TC, I've ran in a pair of Nike Free 3.0 V3s for the last 5 months.

    Before this I ran in a pair of Nike Pegasus 26, read BTR by chance when my shoes were nearing the bin and opted for the Frees. I can honestly say I'm a better runner for using the Frees, I ran several Half Marathons and the Edinburgh Marathon in the Pegasus shoes and had no complaints but I do feel I'm a better runner now.

    The furthest I've ran in the Frees is 21 miles with no problems.

    Saying all this, my Frees are nearing the end and I've recently bought a new pair of Pegasus 28's, but I absolutely maintain I'm now a better runner/have better form for wearing the minimalist shoe.

    Hope this helps. A.
  • Thanks Mustang. It does
  • E mmyE mmy ✭✭✭
    Good to hear that the run on the dreadmill went well. I guess if you build up slowly as you're doing - it may work wonders for you.
  • Large selection of Vibrams on sale at Sports Pursuit if anyone is looking to buy.

  • ive walked in vibrams for 4 years, but i never ran in them much beyond chasing the kid round the park. i do run barefoot these days (new balance miniumus zero on road, merrell trailglove for mixed terrain/trails) but that was after a year or more in a 4mm drop shoe and then even after all the years walking zero drop and running in low drop, i still spent 3 months building up to zerodrop shoes, most people ive spoken with about it think its the soles of your feet that need adusting, but if you run anyway they are pretty tough, its the calf that you feel it most, 1st few runs and they are on fire, once that goes though it felt to me at least, like i'd been given a tune up, i felt more efficient and fatigue over long distances affects me far less, this may perhaps be a phychological thing though, knowig i cant get sloppy on form and heel strike, who knows, it doesnt matter if it is.

    My 4mm drop shoes were the GoRun's from Sketchers, more than anything they helped me improve my form and i stopped heel striking 100%, 
    switching to zero drop has improved my times, form and recovery times etc, I dont think its for everyone, and a lot of the hardcore barefoot people come out with some pretty questionable science/myths, but for me its much more enjoyable, and my running is much better,

    I still dont run in my five fingers, (i own classics and sprints) because when i have, i've on occasion got a stone or bit of wood etc stuck between the toes and you have to stop to remove it because it drives you mad, there are plenty of (far cheaper too) vibram soled shoes with zero drop and minimal to no cushioning with very wide but closed toe box's, the merrell bare range are brilliant, very very durable, i think you'd be unlucky to get under 1000 miles out of a trailglove, 

  • I picked up a pair of vivo barefoots for 35 quid, about a third of the price of 5 fingers.
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