Since the invention of the modern running shoe by Nike in the 80s, hobby runners like me heard the same for decades: Cushioning is very important, you should land on your heel and roll over your foot to the toes. This changed dramatically with the best-selling book “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall that has been released in 2009. If you haven’t read that book I strongly encourage you to do so, I’ll share a link to it at the end of this post.
Born to Run portrayed, among other things, a hidden tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons that run for hundreds of miles with just homemade sandals. McDougall also wrote about scientific facts supporting the opinion that barefoot or minimal running might be the way to go even for amateurs. The book started an intense debate whether running in minimalistic shoes is better and prevents injuries, or if it might harm your body.
If you research you’ll see that in pro running, training barefoot or in minimalistic footwear is quite usual. Also racing barefoot can happen as the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Marathon showed. That year the Ethiopian runner Adebe Bikila won without wearing shoes. Four years later he won again the gold medal but this time with shoes.
When I started running some years ago, I was wearing very cushioned Nike shoes. Since then, also influenced by reading Born to Run, I switched more towards minimal running shoes and sometimes even train in Five-Fingers barefoot shoes. Here are some reasons for that change:
So I really like running in lighter, more minimalistic shoes but I want to emphasize that this is an approach that works for me. In this discussion the answer in my opinion is not just black or white. Every body is different and can react in another way to different styles of running. As I started running in “ordinary” running shoes, I started running slowly in minimalistic shoes (Five-Fingers) for just a few kilometers. I increased the distance covered in this shoes week by week and ended up running a Half Marathon in Five-Fingers. I then started using different minimalistic shoes like some Nike Free or the Salomon Sense for trails.
So you now read something about my approach and I’m really curious what your opinion on minimal running is and what experiences you made with running barefoot. Please use the comments section below to tune into the discussion!
To end this post I’ll share some (affiliate) links to some great products I liked on my way to a more minimalistic style of running: