Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time.
~ Michael Sargent
I have been running for about a quarter century now. Running is just one of those exercises that I love, but it is always hard to get started on it after even a short hiatus of a few months. Because of the brutally cold weather in the winter months where I live, I usually resort to home made calisthenic workouts from around November through to April inclusive.
I much prefer running in +30 (86 Fahrenheit) than I do in -30 (-22 Fahrenheit)!
And along the lines of today’s post I must acknowledge that I enjoy the idea of minimalist running. But what exactly is minimalist running and what are minimalist New Balance running shoes or other minimalist running shoes?
A quick and dirty explanation of minimalist running is that the goal of this running evolution is to minimize the amount of manmade padding between the runner’s feet and the running surface.
They’re also available in trail running as well as road running versions as are most of the minimalist running shoes like the Vibram five fingers and other versions.
I believe that the definition of minimalist running should go further than what the current focus is. Currently, runners and sport’s scientists are talking about barefoot running as perhaps the ultimate in minimalist running or at least using minimalist running shoes. And Running Times has an interesting article that suggests that minimalist running helps us “learn” how to run better and use a more appropriate foot strike where we land on the balls of our feet rather than the heels.
Research seems to suggest that biofeedback, the ability to “feel” more of the surface when you take away the extra padding found in regular running shoes is part of the benefit in learning proper foot strike thanks to minimalist running shoes. That article also seems to suggest that minimalist running can help make you faster too.
I don’t doubt any of these claims. Yet what all of this research and focus on minimalist running – which really is getting back to the basics of running as we have done it for thousands of years – is the lack of focus put on the surface we are running on.
In my mind, minimalist running is also about running on more natural surfaces, and this is why I am such a huge fan of trail running or cross country running as it is known in some parts.
Running barefoot or in minimalist running shoes is way more fun when you’re running trails.
As I have mentioned elsewhere in my post about the best minimalist running shoes, you don’t need minimalist running shoes to start running better.
A cheap pair of running shoes from Walmart or other discount retailers will be fine for most of us.
If however you are a serious or competitive runner and you’ve been running for years and you’ve put a lot of mileage on your springs (legs) you might want to give minimalist running a go with minimalist running shoes. I recommend the minimalist New Balance running shoes as I’m just a fan of New Balance generally. They fit my wider feet well and I’ve found them to be the most comfortable running shoe I can find whether minimalist or traditional.
Minimalist running shoes will set you back similarly as to the price of regular running shoes. Expect to pay from $80 to $120 or so. I find this curious considering that you’re getting arguably “less” material.
But I think that is because minimalism and minimalist running is in vogue and as such folks are willing to pay a premium for them.
The bottom line in my opinion is that regular running shoes, and perhaps even the cheaper the better will serve you well in your minimalist running journey. Cheaper shoes often have less durable and lasting cushioning, as such they become minimalist shoes quite quickly while allowing your feet and body to acclimatize over time.
I recommend New Balance for the reasons stated above and the trail running shoes because those are the only ones I run in. I like the grippier soles which give great traction on or off road as well as last longer too.
If I can leave you with some final thoughts. Running is a journey like life. And as such, you don’t need the most expensive vehicle or the most up to date vehicle to take that journey. A decent pair of runners can be had for $30 or so at Walmart and will be fine for most of us. If you have a great love of running then by all means splurge, but if you are starting out, don’t be bamboozled by salesmanship and profit speak. This journey of ours can be bountiful and abundant and can be had on the cheap 🙂