Minimalist Running

My running history

At school I was a sprinter and loathed cross-country runs.  In my low 20s (and sporadically thereafter) I tried jogging which I found a) boring and b) gave me shin splints.

To address the shin splints I went to specialist running shops and was given heavy pronation (anti-pronation?) shoes - but promptly got injured again.

Many years later I am still struggling to run any distance.

Enter minimalist shoes

I noticed the 5 fingers shoes and wondered about trying them.  I didn't find any locally and then I saw this post on G+  by Tim O'Reilly: he caught his little toe with painful results.  Down in the comments someone mentioned "Vivobarefoot"; I did a search and found a pair on amazon for a special offer.  It was obviously "a sign", so I got some:

I went off for a walk/run: 30 seconds run every 3 minutes (though it was just walk after the first 20 minutes!).  It was great - I felt really good, the birds sang in the sky......
For the second walk/run I went out with my wife, who runs 3 times a week. This was a mistake - pushed a bit too far and had terrible Achilles pains the next day. And basically that meant walking only for 4 months - every attempt to run triggered the Achilles again.

Minimalist walking

So I felt it was time to do a gentler form of exercise for a while: walking. Where do I do most walking?  At work: to, from and around the park at lunchtime.  The Airmesh above were fine but after a while I felt the need to have something less showy (and reserve the Airmesh for the gym); enter the Vivobarefoot Ra:

I now have 2 pairs of these: blue canvas and black leather.  Both very nice and usable at the office.  I had to "sugru" the inner heel of the canvas pair as they chafed a little.
So now I get to gently stretch my achilles for hours a day.

Back to running?

Right now I am going back to walk/running (60-90second run, 3 minute walk) - so far so good.  To do that over the winter I got a pair of Vivobarefoot Trails which I use when walking the dog.  Again excellent: nice broad toe box, more traction, highly waterproof (which surprised me).  I my look at some Breathos if summer ever arrives.


Did I mention summer?  Towards the end of last summer I got a pair of Vivobarefoot Achilles:
A distinctive design! I find them comfortable but I have not used them much yet!


I know the above will make me appear a Vivobarefoot fan boy - this would be correct!  Their shoes are great, they have varied designs, I like their efforts to be green and to provide education to help people transition to minimal footwear with less chance of injury

Xero Shoes

That said I have just got a pair of Xero Shoes  huraches (from Xero Shoes UK actually):
Again a summer shoe.  I have assembled them, and learned to tie them - which was fun.  Getting the tension right is a bit of an art but I think I am there now.  As with the Achilles I look forward to more sunshine!


So that was a whirlwind tour of my growing minimalist shoe collection.  Important points:
  • Transition carefully!  I have found being able to wear minimalist shoes at work and mainly walking to be a great way of training my feet.  This is especially important for the older ones, and those who do a lot of running miles in heavy-weight running shoes.
  • You don't have to have the 5 fingers! Vivobarefoot and others make relatively normal looking shoes (Achilles excepted) which are easier to fit and can cut down on one form of injury.  That said many people love VFFs.
  • The minimalist shoe community is great.
So hopefully this will be the summer where I complete my transition to minimalist running and not just walking - I'll  let you know!