When I started running years ago I didn’t know too much about different products that could help or deter you from being a better runner. I would always go out in my pair of Adidas whatever’s that didn’t fit just right because they were not a half size bigger, my hat and usually my iPod. My shoes were nothing fancy because I was not willing to spend a ton of money on shoes to run in. Plus running is running right? You just get out there and do it.
So I ran like this for a while, and suffered. I constantly had sore, bruised toes and blisters. I also was unable to run any distance farther than 3 miles because the problems with my feet would really kick in. It occurred to me that I would not be able to run this way forever, and maybe shoes were the issue. So I got a bigger pair of New Balance shoes. The difference that a bigger shoe could make was amazing! I didn’t suffer from the same problems, but also was not too happy with the change. It seemed to me that a traditional running shoe, which is what these New Balance were, were what you were supposed to run in. All the added cushion and support was going to allow for your foot to be able to strike the ground for longer periods of time, without causing issues. The shoes were going to add a layer of protection against whatever type of road or dirt path you were running on, and the majority of the running community wore shoes like this. It was the norm.
It was not for me. I was still unable to run any farther in these shoes, and I actually didn’t feel like I was running. With each step my foot landed in this cozy little box, protected from all elements while the rest of me was working hard. My foot is big and with each step my foot was confined and restricted to spread out to where it should due to all that cushioning. Plus these shoes were heavy, and I was used to walking around barefoot or with very thin sandals. It didn’t seem right that I was shoving my foot into these things.
I knew that barefoot running was out there, but I also didn’t know if that was for me. Not that I didn’t think that I would like it, but is it not uncommon for me to run in places where their would be broken glass all over the ground or other types of things that I was not going to let my foot strike the ground and get into. I did like the idea of less is more though. Running this way you can feel with every step; it feels like running.
So I needed some form of protection, with nothing more. Then I discovered minimalist shoes.
My first shoe of choice were the Brooks Green Silence for more than one reason. First, they are made with recycled materials. Since I heart the earth, I loved this attribute. Second, they are lightweight. At only 6.9 oz, it felt like running with no shoes on. I actually found that I was running faster 🙂
Third, they have mesh upper on them that allowed for my foot to breathe and move freely as it wanted.
These shoes are considered a racing flat per Brooks’ website. These shoes allow you to run fast, and that is their intention. I am a chicken when it comes to running on dirt with shoes that have minimal to zero grip and these definitely fit into that category. While they allow you to run quickly on pavement they don’t work so well on a trail. The bottom of these shoes are flat and have no teeth or lugs to endure a trail (they aren’t made for trails). Maybe that’s an obvious observation but I felt it was necessary to point it out.
Also I found that after just a few times out with these shoes signs of wear and tear on the tread of the shoe already show. I am unsure if this is because the shoes are made from post consumer materials or what. It makes me think that in the long run, replacing the shoes would happen a lot sooner than with shoes that are not made from the same materials.
My favorite thing that I learned from these shoes is how to run freely. While wearing these shoes I ran fast and far all with the feeling of running with no shoes at all. Best of all, these are the shoes that I wore while achieving a half marathon PR (personal record.)
These shoes helped me change the way I look at running and for that I am forever grateful.