Growing up I had these cute pink Vans and my older brother had some in blue. He told me that they made you run faster and jump higher so we tested that out by racing each other. He would always win but I was convinced I felt faster in these “special shoes.”
Today, a killer pair of heels can make me feel special but on the track or at the gym, its all about the bare minimum. I was never brave enough to try out the five-toe Vibram variety, but I have a soft-spot for my New Balance Minimus 10v2 Trail shoes. They are well, minimal, in support and cushioning allowing you to use the strength in your feet and legs to move you. As I have learned in ballet, there are 26 bones in the foot, and the lack of padding allows me to build bone density as I run.
The whole concept of the minimal shoe is to run striking the forefront, or ball of your foot, instead of heel first. I had to watch a YouTube video to really grasp the concept, but it feels like jumping rope. The idea is to be light on your feet and maintain a short but quick stride.
While living in San Francisco, a fellow fitness-fanatic friend recommended I read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The book was published in 2009 and is based on the author’s experience with a tribe in Mexico that runs ultra-marathons, or 100 miles, in thin sandals and sometimes barefoot. McDougall intertwines his story with the history of the athletic sneaker from Nike to Vibram. The entire book fascinated me and made me think twice about my ultra-supportive running shoes.
Since transitioning to the minimalist shoes, I feel like my running posture has improved, and my legs and feet are stronger. The shoes force me to use my core in order to balance on uneven terrain where conventional shoes might cause a sprained ankle. The shoes are are light and no-frills, but all-in-all I am completely hooked.
“Running was the superpower that made us human- which means its a super power all humans possess. You don’t stop running because you get old, you get old because you stop running.” – Born to Run