My experience using minimalist shoes

Week 2 done, another 14 more weeks to go till #rinazdoes42km!

Am still feeling good and motivated, although seeing the amount of people starting to get sick, there is a risk that I could get infected too. I really don’t want to fall ill in this crucial time!

For today’s blog post, I thought that I’d blog about the minimalist shoes that I’ve been using to since August.

A little back history. While I was in Singapore in the middle of the year, I met up with my friend Kris while hosting my get together.

Rinaz.net Gathering in Singapore

Kris is an avid runner who has participated in numerous running events, including the Singapore Marathon. I mentioned to him about my bad knee, and that was when he recommended me to give minimalist running shoes a try.

According to him, regular running shoes can be harmful because the thick soles increases the impact of a heel-strike which leads to injuries and knee pains in the long run.

While the thing about minimalist running is that it makes you land on your forefoot directly below your centre of gravity, so you feel more stable and less impact.  It also stimulates and strengthens the muscles in the feet and the lower legs.

Barefoot Running

After using his minimalist shoes and changing his gait, Kris found out that it has helped to strengthen his calves and ankles as well as greatly improved his Plantar Fasciitis condition.

It all made sense to me and I loved the philosophy of minimalistic running. Thus I was keen to give it a try. By the way, a fun fact!

Barefoot Running

I was amused to read that after winning the marathon, Abebe Bikila got endorsed by a shoe brand, but he found them uncomfortable. In the end, he chose to continue to run barefooted in the next Olympics while carrying those shoes!

Cart and I managed to drop by a New Balance shop in Orchard Road and I tried several of their Minimus line.

It was an interesting experience for me as the clerk would ask you to walk on a treadmill and examine your gait. Judging by the way you run, they will recommend the type of shoes which they think best for you.

Barefoot Running with rinaz.net

In the end, I got for myself a Minimus WR10V2. It has a 4 mm drop, are extremely light, and it almost makes you feel like you have nothing on. Quite scruffy now that I’ve been using it for some time.

rinaz.net New Balance Minimus

Originally, I wanted something more serious and subdued, but all the women’s pairs were loud and colourful and I had to resign myself to them. Nevertheless I can’t deny that they are quite cheerful looking. In fact, there were a number of people admiring them while I was doing my race by the bay.

rinaz.net Merrell Vapor Glove Rose

I also got a pair of Merrell Vapor Glove quite by chance while meeting up with our dear friend Jerrick at Vivocity. I happened to see them while we were at the Royal Sporting house. Having a  0 mm drop, I loved how thin the soles were. You could practically roll it up.

rinaz.net Merrell Vapor Glove Rose

With this pair, I can feel the ground more – every pebble, every branch … even dog poo, if you are unlucky enough to step in it.

Luckily, they are both easily washable and dries up really fast.

For the moment, I use the New Balance as my main running shoes and the Merrell for shorter runs or as a backup. In the event that they get worn out, I am just worried that either I can’t find them in Rome, or that they are crazy expensive. My New Balance shoes were about $120 SGD (roughly 70 euro) while the Merrells were on offer then at about $80 SGD (roughly 40 euro)

So far in Rome, minimalist shoes doesn’t seem that popular based on what I’ve observed in a commercial centre in Rome and while going out on my regular jogs. Which is strange, considering that Vibram, provider for the sole of most barefeet running shoes, is founded in Italy.

rinaz.net Revolution Barefoot Shoes

The above are the few minimalist shoes that I’ve spotted out in the mall near my house. You can’t roll them up though. There’s also a Merrell store there but their variety was limited and they didn’t carry mine. The closest to resemble it was meant for men and were too big for me. They were also quite on the pricey side.

I also saw Nike claiming to be minimal with their Free line, but I don’t really consider them to be, as the cushioning looks very thick.

Coming back to my experience in using my shoes, I’m taking to them extremely well now, but it did take a while for me to get used to them. I ran slower than usual on purpose, and had to consciously remember to land on my forefeet.

Barefoot running vs Regular Shoes

Because I was stimulating parts of my legs and feet that I don’t normally do with my former shoes,  on the first few runs, instead of my thighs aching, I felt aches in my soleus. It feels good though when I ease them over on my foam roller.

For those thinking of taking up minimalist running, I strongly don’t recommend you to run as you do normally do when using them for the first time. Even though they are extremely light and makes you think that you can run fast in them, it takes a while for the body to get used to them. Also, strength and stretching exercises are very important and cannot be emphasised enough.

I did that mistake and the pain that came after that was not pleasant to say the least. I didn’t run and focused on healing myself for some weeks.

The odd thing now that I’ve run with both, I actually prefer the Merrell over the New Balance because it has a bigger toe box space and I feel the ground more, which probably sounds odd, but interestingly, I feel more comfortable in them when I run.

rinaz.net Barefoot over regular shoes

This probably means that I’m ready to progress to Vibram Five Fingers – the type that Kris uses. They look so strange though.

Digressing, looking at the picture above (I used it to demonstrate toe box space), I really don’t want feet like the one on the left. A certain someone has been scaring me that my feet looked as if I had bunions and that I might need surgery in the future.

rinaz.net Bare feet

I don’t want! I don’t want! I don’t want!

10 thoughts on “My experience using minimalist shoes”

  1. Once I started using minimal shoes I never looked back. Dunno why but it made running feel more enjoyable for me because less pain after? But yea really eased into it since I went straight for the vibrams =p

  2. Yeah. Like Nic said, you really eased into it compared to the both of us.

    Congrats on finding a good pair of shoes like the Merrell. If they are good enough, I don’t see the need for you to switch to VFFs though. I think having a minimalist zero drop shoe is good enough. :)

    1. It’s quite pricey though here. Considering the exchange rate and tax in Italy, plus the lack of variety, it was much more worth it to get them in Singapore.

      For the moment I’m using the New Balance for longer runs because I think it has more support. I’m still constantly adjusting to the change since I still feel my soleus when I run in the Merrells :-)

  3. LOL! You definitely don’t look like you have bunions. Whoever told you that must be jealous of your feet. If it makes you feel any better, I have a very similar looking pair of feet too :D but flatter ;)

    1. I wouldn’t say jealous but more of concerned because according to certain someone, my feet seemed to look different compared to the first time seen. :/

      I really don’t want to go for surgery :x

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