One of the big trends that occurred back in 2012 was the “barefoot running” craze. Anecdotal evidence o people being free from their “life-long” battle with plantar fasciitis, shin splints, knee pain, or even lower back issues all gone thanks to minimalist running. But there are a few things that must be covered in detail before you consider the transition.
First and foremost, not everyone’s foot structure, body alignment, running gait, or even breathing pattern is the same. So normal for you might very will be completely “crazy” for someone else. So just because someone else is having an amazing time with minimalist running shoes doesn’t mean you will too, and it could just be their body. Don’t get me wrong, the principles of barefoot running generally apply to use all: be light on your feet, make sure you’re toes splay out for natural movement, don’t add too much weight to your feet, etc. But ultimately, running in purist barefoot shoes like Vibram or Vivobarefoot might not be for you. Do your research, be willing to spend money on a few different types of shoes, and find your sweet spot.
Patience Is A Virtue
I myself have had ample injuries throughout my running career. Meta-tarsal stress fractures (your toe hurts like a b*&ch), heel spurs (from pounding me heels too hard on the pavement), chillies tendonitis (the “too much-too-soon” phenomena), etc. But i’ve learnt how my body works and realized it’s a bit more wimpy and less durable than others. What did that mean? My transition and amp up in miles is just going to take a little bit longer than others, that’s all. So i’ve still transitioned to more minimalist shoes for my daily rotation, but it’s taken a very long time and i went very slow. How slow? About 1km a week in the beginning, then 1.5km a week, then 2km, and so forth.
Why am i saying all this? I truly believe minimalist running allowed me to run, but the reality is that the transition is a crazy long process if you want it to be done properly. Take your time, baby-step the process, and within a 3-6 months you should be on your way.
We All Need The Right Partner
Finding the right running shoe is an absolute mission, i won’t lie. The sheer number of running brands, running models, and even running shoe “types/categories” is staggering and daunting in a way. But when you do find the right shoe, it’s absolute magic and worth every second of scouring the internet trying to get the right shoe! For me, it’s been a crazy, pricey, and long-winded process but i’ve managed to find my exact little niche: minimalist with a bit of cushioning. I like minimalist concepts but i’m no purist, and i don’t like super-over-loaded cushioned shoes either due to the sheer amount of weight they add and sometimes wonky ride experience they result in. That said, I still enjoy running in all different types of shoes, but at the end of the day, my go-to “rotation” is more minimalist in base.
My best advice to someone starting out is to realize it’s a going to be a bit of a process but it’s worth it in the end. Do your research, and try out different shoe categories, then try out different models once you know which category you belong to (i.e. settle on whether you are neutral or stability, then whether you are more maximalist or minimalist). In the end, it’s worth it as you will have found the rind partner for your feet, which is extremely important for a runner.