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Ultrarunner Hal Koerner’s Thoughts on Minimalist Running

What’s your take on minimalism now that it’s back in style?

Coming from someone who has a running store and looks at product, I think it’s pretty awesome that the industry can continue to innovate and go after something like that and push the envelope and question how is the best way to run and what are the best shoes to do that. Unfortunately, it’s just put out there in photos and small articles. For the most part, when people come in to see me, it’s like a cure-all — like the latest new blue gel cream — something you all of a sudden put on and feel better. And it’s not that. When I first started running, I wore really heavy trail shoes with shanks and plates for protection. Even when I ran in Colorado, that type of shoe was pretty good. But I also rolled my ankle a lot, so even for me in the last five-to-six years I’ve transferred to a minimalist shoe. I wear a racing flat for Western States. For me, that gets me lower to the ground and I don’t roll my ankle that much. And I’ve actually felt that I’ve started to incorporate a better stride. I feel like I’ve utilized better muscle groups. I feel stronger. My calves feel stronger. I feel like maybe I’m working my glutes a little bit more. So for me, getting into a minimalist shoe and almost going the lazy way and having the shoe do the work for me is kind of like by-proxy, because I really wore it to be close to the ground so that I wouldn’t roll my ankle and not have that high platform. It turned out to do a lot of great things for me. But you have to be careful. I’ve seen a lot of people get stress fractures and then people run in minimalist shoes and ramp up too quick and then you go back to square one with injuries that you originally started with. So there is a big push going on with minimalism. The shoe companies are marketing it. I think it’s a useful tool to help people be a little more successful in what they do, but they need to do it right.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.

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