Wednesday, December 28, 2011

So you want to be a minimalist runner, do ya?

In the weeks since my marathon, I've really been embracing what kids these days are calling "minimalist running"—that is, running with little more than a strip of molded rubber between my delicate feet and the harsh city pavement.

Now, I am not going to try to sell anyone on the concept of minimalist running. I know that when it comes to traditional (heel-strike) vs. minimalist (midfoot-strike), there tends to be a sanctimonious attitude on both sides of the argument. But if there's anything I've learned about running, it's these two things: everyone is different, and everyone is an expert.

With that said, I happen to like the weird toe-glove-shoe-finger thingies. I know they look funny, and I don't care. However, I find that curious strangers all ask me the same questions about them. Sometimes I take their questions seriously and give thoughtful answers. Though sometimes I'm just trying to get through airport security or choose a flavor of kettle chips at the grocery store or something, and that's when I long for a ready-made response. Now I can just give them the link to this post.

V's FiveFingers FAQs
Q. Are they comfortable?
A. They are neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. The idea behind the shoe is that it doesn't get in the way of natural movement.

Q. Do they have any arch support?
A. No. That's why they're called "barefoot" sh– [This is usually where I am interrupted with fascinating tales of flat feet and plantar fasciitis, as if they'd like some kind of professional diagnosis. Honestly, if arch support is important to you, I don't think you need a woman with bright-colored platypus feet to tell you to wear shoes with arch support.]

Q. Does it hurt if you step on a rock or something sharp?
A. Of course! Do minimalist runners not bleed red like everyone else?

Q. Do you worry that someone will accidentally step on your foot?
A. Not really. I try to reserve my worrying for things like flesh-eating bacteria. Unless the person in question has spiky high heels on. Then I am terrified.

Q. Have you read Born to Run?
A. Look, it took me five years to get around to reading The DaVinci Code, okay? And it wasn't even that spectacular!

Recommended reading: Runner's World Essential Guides: Barefoot Running and Minimalism []