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Transitioning to minimalist running

edited February 2013 in Minimalist Running
Wondering if anyone can give some insight on what sort of shoes to run in while transitioning to minimalist shoes. Specifically, if my legs are used to zero-drop, but my feet aren't really strong enough for minimal shoes, would something like the Virrata be a good shoe to run high mileage in while slowly working in a more minimal model? Or should I go for something with a higher heel-toe drop? 

Also, how does one go from wearing shoes with support to more minimal, and hence neutral shoes? People seem to have different views on whether pronation needs to be controlled at all. Is there any science showing support does anything to minimize injury? One of the foundations of minimalism seems to be that humans were "build" to run, so footwear should interfere with the body's mechanics as little as possible (which makes perfect sense), but given that other parts of the body can operate incorrectly in some people, couldn't the same go for running mechanics? For example, the eye is build to see, but many people still need glasses.


  • What have you run in to date?
  • Hey Bryan, I think we've actually discussed this in other threads. I was running in Mirage 2s for a while and liked them just fine, but made the move to minimalist shoes in the fall. I was running in MR00s and just got BA2s. I think my quick transition caught up with me, though, as I'm nursing a few nagging foot injuries, and I'm planning to transition more slowly after giving my feet a rest. 

    I have a pair of Go Runs, which I might be able to use as my primary running shoe while I transition to the BA2, but I'm not sure if I should get something a but more substantial. Since I liked the Mirage 2, I expect their other "natural" line offerings might be safe bets. I'd rather not go back to the Mirage, since it's actual heel-toe drop is close to 8mm. It's stability does offer a bit of a safety net though, since I'm not really sure if my injuries have been caused by lack of cushioning and too-quick a transition, or by a lack of stability, hence my question about transitioning from a shoe with stability to a minimalist model.
  • Maybe try out the PureCadence, in that case?  4mm drop and some stability still added.
  • I've thought about it. It's an attractive shoe for my needs, but the price tag and Brooks' warning that the pure line only gets about 200-300 miles of use scares me off. 
  • I haven't had a shoe that I could get 300mi out of in years.  Don't let that scare you.

  • You might try the Kinvara 3 if you liked the Mirage. Similar, but less shoe. Still has plenty of cushion, just not as much as the Mirage. You can get some good prices on older colors now too since an update is coming in a few months. The Kinvaras would be a step in between the Virratas and Mirage.

    I have 350 miles on a pair of PureFlows and the tread is fine on them. I've got a tear in the upper from my big toes, but that is easily taken care of with duct tape on the inside. I think the 200-300 mile estimate from Brooks is pretty conservative, especially for the PureCadence which should be at least as durable as the PureFlows.
  • Thanks. I was thinking about trying the Kinvaras. I'm going to try the Go Runs for the time being, most likely, because I just bought my BA2s and don't want to shell out any more money. At the same time, I really hate not being able to run and don't want to re-injure myself.
  • I know the feeling, man!

    Quite frankly, if you like the Go Runs, they're pretty "minimal" to me at least from a weight standpoint.

    Honestly, though...if you like running and are able to do it un-injured, who cares what you're running in?

  • Yea, I know. I wanted to give minimal shoes a try and, despite some injury issues (which admittedly have been minor), I really like the lighter shoes and ground feel, so I don't want to go back. The Go Runs have been alright, but still not ideal. And yes, they are minimal, but much softer than the BA2, in my opinion.

    So, I just found and bought a pair of the original Pure Flows for only $60. Much more cushioning than the Go Runs and Runblogger compared them with the Mirage, so that's a good sign. Hopefully, I can use them for medium and long runs and work the Go Runs in on shorter runs. Going to start with very short distances with the BA2s, and maybe only on a track at first.

    Any thoughts or experience with actual barefoot running? I was thinking doing some barefoot strides or something on grass might be useful in building foot strength (once the weather gets warmer, of course).
  • Should also mention that if the Pure Flows work out, the dam may burst on my unwillingness to buy Pure Project shoes in the future. I've always wanted a pair but I'm used to getting 450 or so on a pair of shoes and was scared off by Brooks' durability warning. Good to hear from Jim that he's getting good use out of them.
  • I think you'll find the PureFlow are a little less shoe than the Mirage. I ran in both and kept the PureFlows. I got the PureFlows the first day they came out and they were such a revelation compared to the traditional trainers I'd been in such as the Brooks Ghost, Guide, etc. Have to say I find them a little squishy now compared to the Kinvaras or PureCadence. I just got a pair of the GoRun 2 and have only been able to run in them for a short distance, but I think they will be a perfect replacement for the Nike Free 3.0 v3 that I've really enjoyed for the last year. I got the Kinvara 3 for $64+tax last week at RR, so deals are out there on them too.

    Grass is a great place to do some barefoot running. I just use barefoot running as an occasional tool in trying to stay healthy and work on form.
  • Thanks, Jim. It's ok if the flows are less shoe than the mirage. I'd rather that, actually. Squishy is ok too- in the long term, these will probably wind up being my distance shoe.
  • To be honest, I'm kind of in your boat.  After the 10K, I'm really wondering if I don't need to find something to use for 6mi+ runs other than my BA2's.  I really don't want to go back up to 4mm drop, though.
  • Dan, I think you caught my drift, but I didn't mean "less shoe" in a bad way, just the opposite.
  • I get what you meant, Jim. Certainly good to here. 

    Bryan, I think I'm going to start looking at zero-drop as a long-term project. In the long run I'd like to mostly run in zero-drop, minimalist shoes, but I really don't mind 4mm drop shoes that much. They sort of have a faster feel, in my opinion. I think the angle lends itself to forward motion.
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