Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Why "Minimalist" Is Somewhat Impractical

Before I get a slew of "up yours" from readers, let me clarify the title. I believe in the barefoot movement. I really do, but please take note of the use of the word "somewhat."

Why? Because much as barefoot works in some scenarios, it sucks in others. I read "Born to Run" and the thing that most proponents of the minimalist movement conveniently forget is that the Tarahumara people are running on dirt, which is over 100% softer than asphalt. Each time you pound the pavement, you transmit up to 600 lbs of pressure through your body. And while a lighter weight shoe can help you run faster, the weight reduction over standard shoes is taken from the cushioning.

I'm a minimalist runner. I typically run in New Balance MT10s. But I only do it when I know that the majority of the run is on dirt or grass. When I know that I'll be hitting the pavement, I run in Nike LunarGlide 4s. I know that minimalism has helped my form, and my fitness, but there is an inherent risk, particularly for over pronators. 

My verdict: Real minimalism works well in situations where the majority of the run is on dirt or grass. Transition shoes, such as the Saucony Kinvara and Nike Free are decent on pavement, simply because they have softer cushioning, at the expense of some durability. But I'm not entirely sold on pure minimalism.

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