Minimalist Running: Shoe Reviews and how to do it Right

If you've been following this blog for a while you'll remember my little foray into barefoot running last winter - there's certainly a right way and a wrong way to do it.

The right way to get into barefoot running:
Start slow. Do 5 minutes barefoot at the end of a long run. Preferably on a golf course or something soft. Asphalt = glass and pokey things, beware!

The WRONG way to get into barefoot running:
One word. Treadmill. Or is that two? If you're desperate for miles then this winter the treadmill has been your best friend. 5 minutes barefoot at the beginning or end of your run, either way it's like running a belt sander over your feet.

Pretty simple. But I wonder weather all those nuttys, and even the ones with vibram toe shoes (aka. pussies) ever bothered to ask if it was really necessary to go so low and really bring your foot right to the ground. In fact, the other day on Slowtwitch I even saw somebody ask if anyone knew of a good 'negative drop' shoe (higher toe than heel) because being flipping barefoot wasn't enough.

I started thinking about this the other day when my new running buddy, the fantastically fast Keith Drake of Shamrock Shuffle lore and legend, shared with me his own personal philosophy on footwear.

Gered: "So, you're running in some pretty beat up poo covered old s@hit kickers there."
Keith: "Yeah, I have about 40 pares of running shoes. I figure they all hurt me in some different way so I try to rotate them as much as I can"

Personally, I'm inclined to believe a 15 minute 5k'er who runs 80 miles a week over the sponsored elite athletes in Runners World. For Keith, there's an obvious benefit to doing ridiculous mileage in comfy shoes. For the rest of us the lesson probably is, the more you run, the better you'll feel.

I've gotten on the low profile shoe bandwagon myself. I've been doing my 30 miles a week in Adidas Rockets (pink) which took forever to get used to and still to this day make me feel like someone is trying to peel the flesh off my legs by week 3. Don't get me wrong. These are a great supportive 7 ounce road racer. They just hurt like the dickens (pink dickens). And I do most of my trail work in New Balance MT101s, which are great, have an awesome waffle print for getting dirty, and weigh almost as much as the Rockets.

I like and hate both these shoes depending on the workout, but they do the trick and they don't hurt me. Again, there's something to be said for volume and consistency.

And here's what I've found matters most about low profile footwear: Keeping the heel to toe drop consistant amongst all your shoes. Both the Rocket and MT101s have around a 22mm heel, and 17 mm toe.

I bet you've never even noticed these numbers before when shopping footwear. Well, check out the measurements on Running Wearhouse next time you're buying 300 dollars worth of track flats. There's a pretty huge difference between a 22mm - 10mm shoe, and a 22/17. That's a whole freaking centimeter and then some. If that's what you're running in, good for you. Keep at it. But don't try to go to something dramtically different. You run about 90 strikes a minute, so for an hour run, that's 5400 unique impacts your feet have to endure. Don't go messing around with your mechanics by jumping to something that's half as lofty. You have to, then ease into those shoes. And if you're body rejects them, don't run in them at all. Take it from me. 8 weeks worth of calf pain for 3 ounces of padding just ain't worth it.