Minimal/Transitional running for "heavier" runners?

I probably should have given this more thought before I started out with the Mirages, and my time with them has at least shown that outsole durability can be an issue. 

My question is, how profitable/possible is minimal or transitional running for heavier runners?  Most publications put heavier runners at over 180lbs, which I hover around (imagine being 160lbs and 6' running XC with the next smallest guy being 30lbs least I was stronger than all and faster than most).  I like running sockless, too, which probably makes me certifiably insane.

Has anyone given that question any thought, or is this just something for light little people?


  • Not to worry. It's much more about your stride than your weight. I've run with heavy runners that have a stride so soft you can barely hear the footfalls, and light runners that sound like a Clydesdale. I'm also a heavier runner that is now running more softly and with less injuries in minimalist shoes. The best advice I've heard is to concentrate on running tall, running softly and keeping your feet mostly under your center of gravity. A higher cadence than you're used will probably also happen. 
  • I'm 6' 2 and 190lbs and have had great success transitioning to more minimalist style and shoes. In fact I've had less injuries and run further and faster since running tall, shortening my stride and increasing my cadence (as meister suggests). 

    It took me a while to find shoes I liked and now realise I prefer those build based on an anatomical last (Skora, Inov-8, Skechers Go Bionic) as opposed to traditional shape. I haven't found durability an issue though my wear pattern is way more mid-foot now.
  • I agree with NZChris and meister - depends more on your stride than your weight. I know guys who are well over 200 pounds who run most of their miles fully barefoot. I myself hover between 165-175, so I'm not built like a marathoner, and have not had any issues running in shoes without cushion. You might consider trying a flat shoe like the Skechers GoBionic, Merrell Bare Acess 2, or Altra Instinct 1.5 - does make a big difference for me stride-wise when I go completely flat.
  • Thanks, guys.  I liked the Mirages I was in, but wasn't a fan of the apparent lack of outsole durability (despite the move to minimal shoes, I wish Carbon Rubber hadn't gone the way of the Dodo!), I wanted to get something else, and had settled on the Bare Access 2 (if Merrell would just ship them out...).

    Historically, I've always been pretty heavy as a runner.  I remember my teammates chiding me because they could hear me coming a mile away between my breathing and heavy strides.  I've tried to alter my form, and I think it's helping.  I was just asking as an open question and doubt I had about the whole minimal movement--that it was just for perfect little people with perfect feet and physiology.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • I'm what most would call a heavier runner (192-194lbs). I started going barefoot over 2 years ago and was a bit heavier then (~220). The transition what more about patience and listening to my body than almost anything else. Now I'm up to 8 miles at a time running in Xero sandals with minimal soreness. I go barefoot every now and then (up to 5 miles at a time), but the friction still tears up the bottoms of my not so calloused feet so I need a good day or so to recover from those runs. Running softly with shortened strides is great advice. If you can find time to go barefoot even just briefly that will help with listening to your feet. My biggest advice is to take the transition slowly so you don't overdo it.

  • Honestly, I don't have any plans to run barefoot (though I'd run around the block just for fun after runs).  I'm running in more and more minimal shoes and just wondered if I was going to just kill myself.

    I'm currently 6'1" and somewhere in the neighborhood of 183lbs
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • edited October 2012
    Agree with meister that it's more about your form rather than your weight. A lightweight runner with a prominent overstride who lands forcefully and does too much before his or her bones and tissues can adapt will probably generate sufficient forces to hurt themselves just about as easily as a heavier runner who does the same.

    If I recall correctly, Dr Irene Davis who was a professor of physical therapy at the University of Delaware and is very knowledgeable about biomechanics recommends minimalist running for heavier runners because of better joint stability or better proprioception or something like that. I forget the exact reasoning but it was one of those counter-intuitive recommendations that seemed to make sense the more you thought about it. It stuck it in my mind, even though I'm not a heavier runner myself.

    Just make any transition slowly and gradually. Be consistent about it but in order to minimize the risk of injury I think it's a good idea to do far less than you think you can do. It's ridiculously easy to overdo it without having the slightest idea that you've already overdone it.
  • Physiotherapist Blaise Dubois from Quebec also advocates minimalist shoes for heavier runners because he feels it will be better in terms of developing impact moderating behavior, whereas bulkier shoes can encourage more reliance on footwear for cushioning, which can lead to form that is not ideal for someone carrying extra weight. Se also this by Dr. Casey Kerrigan who founded gait labs at Harvard and the University of Virginia:
  • edited October 2012
    That all makes sense, I guess.  At the very least, I definitely don't regret going to a 4mm drop.  I can DEFINITELY tell a difference in just how comfortably I run and stand in my 4mm Mirages compared to my old (and, honestly, in better shape) 12mm 2160's.

    Admittedly, I'm doubting it more than usual because of my recent knee injury, though I'm still not completely certain what caused that.
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
  • An update on this thread...I don't know if I'm a full convert to minimal running (aside from the fact that I refuse to run in socks, even in the winter), but I'm sold on zero drop.  After running in my Bare Access 2's since November, I was really surprised at how much harder it was to run in my old 4mm Mirages.

    Don't know if I can ever really go back, lol
    Socks are a scam. Just saying :-)
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