Lost: Seeking a new "minimalist" shoe for ultra-marathons;

My story is actually the reverse of the typical person seeking minimalist shoe advice.  I have been running regularly for the past two years (started later in life), and began running in VFF from the beginning.  I fully adjusted (calves/legs/feet), and my very flat-feet have actually developed arches. What used to be miserable when I tried it in the past has become pleasurable thanks to discovering minimal running.  I have run a road marathon in Vibram Bikilas and a 50k trail race in Merrell Trailgloves.

As much as I love running in my VFFs and Trailgloves, I am really wanting to feel less soreness in my feet when I run very long distances, so I am seeking a shoe that I can run my next 50k race in (May 4) where I continue to run with the same gait and form that I do in the VFFs, but with some cushion so that my feet aren't as beat up after a 50k.  In other words I don't want to undo any of my progress in being a minimalist runner.

I've had little luck with this on the internet because most of the advice is about transitioning to minimalist running, whereas I started with minimal running and have no context or experience with more.  



  • Unfortunately, no one will be able to tell you what shoes to get. It's a little bit like asking for favourite colours.

    Why don't you check this shoe finder:


    Select 0 mm heel drop and see what you get. Take a look at the stack heights. The lower end are those ~ 8mm shoes. I'd say since you're experienced 8 - 13 mm stack height should be enough. You can also take a look at the note for arch structure in the product description. May be important to you. The rest is finding s shoe that fits your feet.

  • You could try the Skechers Go Bionic. They're zero-drop, very flexible, have a wide toebox, a relatively low stack height and offer just enough cushioning. I run in both VFF and in Go Bionics and my running form is comparable in those two.
  • Purely as a race-day shoe, maybe give the Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150 a try? Low stack, zero-drop, leightweight and soft. Won't get a ton of miles out of them, but you can find them cheap-ish all over the net. Maybe also give the NB MR00 a shot? 
  • The sole of the MR00 feels sort of "dead" to me, and I know Runblogger has said the same, so maybe not the best choice. Then again, everyone's different, so who knows. Might be able to get them at a discount now, too.
  • edited April 2013
    Thanks!  I appreciate the suggestions and advice.  Stefan, point well taken, which is why it has been tough to get advice.  Using the shoe-finder turns up no-results.

    Thanks for the other selections guys, will check into those.  

  • I have a pair of Altra Torins coming in the mail today for the same reason that you stated above. I will let you know how they perform. For my last 50k I ran in MT110s.

    I also got a pair of Hoka One One Stinsons last week, but they are too narrow and cause my toes to fall asleep. These are probably getting returned.
  • Thanks, I look forward to hearing about the Altras!
  • I just took my new Altra The One shoes out for a 5 mile run last night and I really liked them.  More cushion than my Merrell Bare Access 2s.  I don't know how they'd do on a Ultra as I've never run that far.
  • My first run went well. I just took them on some dirt roads, so nothing fancy. I intentionally stepped on a bunch of rock and they just absorbed them. They ride a little low on the ankle which makes them move around a little on my foot, but I think that will cure itself with a few more miles. They don't have a lot of tread on them, so they may not work well on steep/technical trails, but I will keep you updated.
  • @SteveL...any chance you could start up a review thread for The One?  You could just use the thread I already started if you want :-)
  • Funny you should ask that as I was thinking of writing one up. I'll do that but it might take a day or two.
  • Rudy,

    I wanted to thank you for the Go Bionic suggestion. I bought a pair (strange how none of the Skechers stores had any though), and gave them a shot. Love them with one caveat: the inserts in mine got very loose when running and it caused me too hurt a thin muscle in my leg due to slippage on the landings. After I removed the inserts, it solved the issue, and I've run a 50k and a marathon in them since. Toe box is wide and the zero drop helped me feel like my gait stayed the same. Most importantly my feet better after the pounding.
  • Glad they fit your need! I run in mine also without the insoles, altough I never had any problems with them.
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