When do minimalist shoes need to be changed?


I'm curious about when to change shoes for minimalist runners, since shock absorption isn't such an issue. I am currently running mainly in Saucony Kinvaras and Merrell dash glove for shorter runs. I have had my Kinvaras for nearly 6 months and I am a midfoot runner. Although common sense tells me cushioning shouldn't be an issue, I can't help but worry, especially after getting a stress fracture last year...


  • Kinvaras and Dash Gloves have midsoles just like other shoes.  The same rules apply (perhaps even moreso because they're built more lightly/thinly).
  • Thanks Bryan! But part of the theory behind midfoot running is that the arch and calf muscles are the shock absorbers, and that we don't need cushioning in shoes, so doesn't this mean it doesn't matter if it gets worn down? Sorry, I'm just trying to make sense of it in my own head...
  • The Kinvara will break down, and breakdown is not always uniform so that can cause issues. Dash Glove ha much less foam so not as big an issue. I had noticeable sole compression in Kinvaras after 150 miles.
  • Thanks, that makes sense. I have been noticing more niggling pains recently so I think maybe its time to change them. I'm thinking of trying Merrell mix masters as I really like Merrell shoes...
  • Mix Master is a solid shoe, firmer and less cushion than the Kinvara though. They do have the new AllOut collection coming soon, same fit as the barefoot line but with more cushion.

  • It really is confusing. When I started running just over 2 years ago I started right away in Vibrams and built up slowly because I knew that heel striking would give me knee problems. I ran a half marathon in them but then started proper training at a track and I felt that they weren't enough, so I bought the original dash glove. These felt great and training was going really well until I got a metatarsal stress fracture about 7 months later, a week before my second half marathon. Once I was recovered I was scared to go back to the dash gloves so I got the Kinvaras, being more cushioned. I was a bit reluctant to do so because it felt like I was moving away from minimalist shoes. The Kinvaras felt really comfortable, although much more cushy than what I was used to. I ran a half marathon in them and a few other races and they have been my main training shoe for the past 5 and a half months. Recently I got the Dash glove 2 because I wanted to move towards something more minimal but I haven't run more than 7/8km in them. I still have this nagging fear of injury because of the stress fracture I got. I think its time to retire the Kinvaras but I'm not sure which way to go with the next shoes. I did try a pair of mix masters on in a shop and they felt great, plus have great reviews, but do you think they will be OK re cushioning? When I got the stress fracture I had increased mileage quite a bit so it may have been a case of too much too soon.... I just want to run injury free!! Thanks and sorry for rambling on...
  • When to be changed? Never had to ponder this question. Most of my minimalist shoes fell apart on their own before I could ask this question.
  • Here's an article relevant to the discussion of sole breakdown: http://anathletesbody.com/2011/05/16/do-shoes-have-feelings/.

    @beckygatt - why not try something in between the Kinvara and Dash like a racing flat? Saucony Grid Type A5 is a fantastic shoe and on sale at Running Warehouse right now (new one is coming out): http://www.runningwarehouse.com/searchresults.html?search=products&type=all&searchtext=saucony+a5
  • Thanks. So how would these differ from say the kinvaras and the master mix?
  • I developed a sore foot (undiagnosed for over a year) from trail running in 5fingers. I found that my Merrell MT110 hurts me the least of my minimal shoes. I believe that it's because of the relative stiffness in the forefoot. My GoBionics are considerably cushier, but still hurt more - due to their flexibility?
    Both feet get sore on occasion, leading me to believe that at my age (50+) I require some (firm) cushion in my minimal shoes. I have no desire to go back to traditional shoes since I've experienced no knee problems in spite of running more miles than before.
  • Becky,

    Lower, firmer cushion than the Kinvaras. The Mix Master is a trail shoe, so if you do run trails a bit they are a good choice, but not sure I;d choose them if mostly on roads. Which specific Mix Master are you looking at?
  • I'm looking at the mix master move glide, which is supposedly designed for roads...
  • Ahh, ok makes sense. I have the men's equivalent to the MM Glide and it's a pretty firm shoe, but if it felt good on you then that's really the best indicator. Worth a shot!
  • Perhaps I'll give them a try and if I'm not sure I'll get some Saucony and rotate them.... Thanks so much for the advice! Its great to have finally found a place to discuss running issues, especially minimalist ones! Where I live (Malta - a small island in Europe), minimalist running is still very new and a bit taboo.
  • The Kinvara was my transition shoe and I got maybe 250 miles before the cushion collapsed but that was okay with me as I was ready to try less shoe.  I also run in the Mix Master 2 trail shoe and it has the same 4mm drop but far less cushion.  I've got at least 800 miles on them if not 1000 and they still work fine as there really is nothing to collapse.
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