If you’ve been running for more than a year, you surely know that minimalism was all the rage a few years back. Today? Not so much. In fact, the pendulum seems to have swung pretty far back the other way if you take a good look around. Hokas are everywhere. Brooks has a new “maximalist” shoe coming out called the Transcend. And even Altra Zero Drop (a company I love) has added in a maximum cushioned/platformed shoe, albeit still zero drop.
So what does all this mean and how should you choose your own shoes? Like I said above, I think the current fad of maximal shoes is a bit of a backlash to the very big Born to Run trend of a few years back. Why? My guess is that most people just didn’t have the patience to make a true go of it with less shoe. They got hurt and blamed the shoes, not the runner.
I understand this–I am the most impatient of people and I think most runners tend to be of similar ilk. Switching to less shoe and with a concentrated change in form isn’t for the impatient. But I am still a believer.
For me, making the change a few years back completely changed the way my body felt post run. Instead of perpetually tight hamstrings and the need to shuffle into my recovery runs, I feel good even the day after a long or tough run. So many constant aches and pains that were with me when I ran with a big, stiff shoe and with my leg extended straight out in front of me went away once I changed form and shoe. Even as I sit here inured today, I will return to my beloved natural running shoes and form when I’m good to go. I just can’t imagine running any other way.
Do I think it’s my way or the highway for other runners? Nope. I have enough examples in my life of running partners who have been at it for years, in big, built up shoes with no injuries and impressive race times to know better. I think it’s a very individual thing. The only thing I will say is that if you have suffered a lot of injuries, and can honestly look in the mirror and say you haven’t made dumb training mistakes, then maybe you want to consider a running form and natural running shoe change. But otherwise–carry on with what works for you.
How about your shoes–big and cushioned or small and flexible? Did you try natural running in its heyday?