I recently reviewed The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Barefoot Running and really enjoyed the book for what it offered even beyond just running barefoot. So if you are looking for a guide, do check it out. In the meantime, I have chosen to make the transition to low profile running shoes for at least 50% of my weekly mileage.
MINIMALIST VS LOW PROFILE
A low profile shoe is different than a minimalist shoe, which I would consider to be something like a Vibram FiveFingers Sprint or Terra Plana EVO. In other words, a minimalist shoe is to try and mimic barefoot running while providing you just a little protection from the elements.
The low profile shoe does not offer cushioning, stability or motion control…you are all those things! Low profiles shoes are extremely lightweight and flexible making them ideal for track work and race day. Minimalist shoes basically provide protection to your feet from the elements, but otherwise simulate barefoot running.
Neither is better or worse, just different options depending on where you are in your running journey.
I have tested out three different low profile shoes at this point:Nike Free Run,Saucony ProGrid Kinvara, Pearl iZUMi Streak II.
I have a great running buddy who adores his Free’s, but I just did not care for them. While training in them, I repeatedly found myself with new injuries…that being said they are my go to shoe for traveling now. I love to walk in them and you know I walk 30 miles a week…plus there are many other runners who swear by them.
If you are looking to try a low profile shoe and have had good luck with Nike in the past, this might be a great shoe for you. I can’t say that I mind they come in a great variety of colors either.
It was love at first run for me. The shoe fit like a glove, it’s so light that my pace automatically picked up and the shoe was so minimal that it caused any discomfort. This shoe has a slight heel drop, which means it will be an easy shoe for most people to use as a transition from their current running shoe. Again though it doesn’t have the standard support of a regular running shoe. The Saucony Kinvaraalso offers up a little bonus for a runner like me… a little bit of cushion. I believe this cushion is what made the shoe easier for me to use as a transition.
PEARL IZUMI STREAK II
The streak is beautiful and wonderful…and not the first shoe you should pick when transitioning. Unlike the Kinvara it has no drop and no cushioning. The Izumi is labeled a racing flat, but I find myself using it at track and for shorter runs during the week…probably because I’m no Kenyan, so anything labeled racing doesn’t mean much to me.
These shoes are the lightest that I own, but I have run my fastest times in the Kinvara’s. So I think it’s still a matter of comfort level with the decrease in stability provided by the shoe. Either way…how cute are they?!
I truly believe for a low profile or minimal shoe to work you need to be committed to great running form. These shoes can be a really great addition to your life if you are working on that.
This type of shoe will work your calves in different ways and again should be eased in to gradually as you perfect your running form. There you have it a quick break down of barefoot v low profile…and how you might be able to work them in for better performance.
I am grateful for cool evenings
I am grateful for solid intervals on the treadmill
I am grateful for new songs on the radio
I am grateful for orange flowers on the trees
I am grateful for telecommuting