Friday, April 29, 2011

Taking Away My Shoes

A while back I wrote a somewhat controversial post regarding my thought to the whole minimalist/barefoot phenomenon that was occurring in the world of running these days.  I didn’t do any research on the subject to keep my opinions my own and as outspoken as possible. To save you some time (and since my job blocks wordpress I can’t do much editing & adding a pingback), my summary went like this: Barefoot running doesn’t make sense to me and that regardless of foot strike you are placing the same amount of stress on your body just in a different place. To further the point I also commented that shoes are awesome and they help considerably. It is similar to my wife’s thought on epidurals “If the technology is there, use it.”

My opinion on this matter started when I first got into running. It was in 2006 I weighed 272 lbs. I wanted to do this running thing the right way so I got fitted for shoes at a specialty running store which will remain nameless but I won't go back there. Also, I've learned the art of internet scouring to find the the best deal. They did the whole gait analysis and charged me $130 for a pair of Brooks Beasts since I was a fat over-pronator. The shoes were a step up from what I was wearing and I liked them at first. I did notice that whenever I would up the miles (at this time anything over 4 miles was a long run) the medial (inside) part of my knees would hurt. I figured this was normal since the shoes were now providing support where I didn’t have it before. After running with those shoes for a year the pain didn’t go away, but it didn’t get worse either. I went out on a limb and for my next pair bought some New Balance 991’s which were a bit more neutral. There was no knee pain with these shoes. Hmmm.

​Fast forward to 2010 & 2011 and I am running in Brooks Adrenaline GTS 9’s which are a shoe that provide moderate support for over-pronators. I really like these shoes. I’ve had no real issues with them and as my experience with the other pair of Brooks, they hold up very well.

Well, when I wrote that previous article I promised that I would keep an open mind about the minimal thing since there was so much feedback telling me I was wrong. I kept my promise. By a stroke of luck and a need from some trail shoes, I found a pair of New Balance 101’s on sale to get into this minimal thing. I don’t think that there are any arguments that the NB101s are pretty minimal especially when compared to my previous shoes. I’ve started out slow with them and have noticed that my calves are getting a better workout when running and there is a “difference” in the way my knees feel. It’s a good difference. They feel a bit looser after I run with the NB101s. I’ve also taken the NB101s out to the track and did some speed work with them, they were awesome for that environment too.

Finally, I have purchased "Born to Run" which I have been told is the greatest running book ever. I haven't started on it yet because I am knee deep in the "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" series and I don't want to break up those books. So, I have a feeling my research will be picking up once I crack that sucker open.

So, after a couple months I have gone from Minimal Skeptic to Casual Minimal Tester-Outer and I like this progression I am seeing. Its too early to say that I am hooked and that minimal running is the thing for me but my mind is a bit more open.


  1. Hi John! I popped on over from DM. I personally am all for the minimalist movement. I'm currently working on switching to a minimalist shoe and hope to run my next half in one. So far I'm only doing 5 min with the new shoe since when I first started to test them in March I moved too fast and had some calf issues. Then stopped with them because I realized it wasn't a good idea to be training for a half in 2 different shoes. haha! Now that the half is over..I'm making the switch (ok..whenever I get back into the swing of really running full time again).

    For me, it wasn't about the hype. I suffered from a stress fracture in my heal in 2009 and it still gives me trouble. I made the decision after reading a lot about it, the cons and pros. I decided that since running with a heel strike still causes me to have set backs and pain in my heel, it was worth the effort to attempt a minimalist shoe and get away from the heel strike. Only time will tell if this was a good move for me. Hopefully we both walk away thinking positive thoughts.

    BTW - what track do you run at? We're in the same general area and I was trying to decide which school would be best if I wanted to run on a track.

  2. Hey Kris. Thanks for reading. This minimal thing is slooow going for me too, but like you I have researched and I've heard great things. I need to get back to running more frequent in those shoes.

    As far as a track goes, before I moved jobs we did it at MICDS as I worked for a large company around there and we'd go at lunch. So as you can imagine with that school, it was a nice track. Now, I'm not so sure. If I were to do it, it would be on a weekend somewhere and would either be at Kirkwood or Parkway Central. If you are ever interested in meeting up for a run or something let me know. I usually go to Queeny on the weekends with some folks. Its really easy pace (9-10 min/mile) and we go anywhere from 9 - 13.5.

  3. [...] has been well documented on this blog that I have a bit of an addiction to Running. See Here & Here. I am ultimately searching for the right way to do it so I can do it forever. My wife [...]