A few months ago, a friend gave me Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. I was in a workout rut, and she told me that it would inspire me to put on my sneaks. And it did — the book is a fascinating spin through the world of ultramarathoners, human evolution biologists, and rural Mexican Indian tribes. Beyond that, it’s also responsible for the current barefoot running craze. By now, you’ve probably seen people jogging around in Vibram FiveFingers, the most popular of the so-called barefoot running shoes. And you’ve probably made fun of them — there is a vocal anti-barefoot movement decrying them as dangerous, ineffective, and just plain ugly.
I haven’t tried Vibrams, mostly because I can’t bring myself to spend money on footwear that looks like it escaped from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But I am intrigued by the idea that we don’t need overly engineered footwear, with corrective supports, supercharged springs, and other bells and whistles. Shouldn’t running be, you know, simpler?
Enter new minimal sneakers, which have enough protection and cushion to keep you from hurting yourself but not so much that you can’t feel the ground. I’ve been running in New Balance’s brand-new Minimus WR10, which feel light and bouncy but still have plenty of structure. I’m on day four and haven’t had the same foot pains and calf aches that newbie barefoot runners often get, and I’m also feeling springier on my runs (fair to say that this might be a placebo effect). As long as it keeps me running, I’m happy.
Have you tried barefoot running? Do tell!
PS - If you’re going on a run that is going to end at a farmer’s market or coffeeshop (what, you don’t do that?), stick a couple Herban Essentials wipes in your pocket to de-sweat after you finish. Same goes for bike rides!