WHAT IS MINIMALIST RUNNING – AND SHOULD YOU TRY IT?
Minimalist running is reconnecting to your body, it’s capabilities and the natural world around you. And the key to achieving this lies in your feet.
To be a minimalist runner is to shed all the extra padding, support and excess ‘stuff’ on your feet. To be precise: your running shoes!
But don’t kick off your shoes and head out there barefoot just yet.
Minimalist running is a process – and often a long and slow one.
Let’s start at the beginning.
If you’ve been wearing shoes most of your life, you’ve probably been wearing traditional shoes; narrow, with a tapered toe box, a heel of some kind and a hard sole. If this sounds familiar your feet are definitely not ready to run barefoot just yet.
So learn to walk (again) before you run.
Minimalism comes in all different guises, and you may find that just walking around your home, garden or in your local park in minimalist shoes or barefoot is enough. Keep at it. Just being able to wiggle your toes and feel the earth beneath your feet is a great way to start reconnecting to your body and the natural world.
It might even hurt your feet a little to move to minimalist shoes and spend more time barefoot. This is because feet that have spent most of their time encased in thin, narrow, rigid shoes haven’t been given the space to grow strong, wide and flexible. Your feet are packed with muscles and tendons that simply haven’t been used enough.
Walking barefoot, as well as in minimalist shoes, gives your feet the perfect opportunity to start building up those tiny muscles, while the soles of your feet start reacting to all the awesome sensory input the ground is now providing.
This is minimalist moving: conscious, connected, happy.
If you’re already a keen runner, maybe it’s time to take this a step further. Minimalist running might be for you…. But first, ask yourself: why?
Are you recovering from an injury? Maybe you think minimalist running will help you run faster, get a better personal best in your next 10km? Or do you simply want to run longer, better and happier?
If you are nodding your head to either of the first questions - hold up!
If you’re recovering from injury that you suspect may have been sustained because your gait is wrong, or your shoes are too padded – you might well be right, but you need to get proper help. Find a minimalist running trainer near you and invest in your running future. Get an expert to guide you back to recovery. It’ll be worth it.
And if you’re after a faster PB – maybe minimalist running really isn’t for you. You’re not going to run faster for a long time, and this kind of running just isn’t about gaining that competitive edge.
But if the idea of re-plugging into nature as you run, as well as potentially running longer, better and happier grabs you – read on!
The key is, again, to start slowly.
Walk in minimalist shoes as well as spending as much time barefoot as possible.
Don’t give away your running shoes just yet, simply try and fit short, slow runs in your minimalist shoes around your normal runs. And short means short – don’t do more than a couple of minutes to start with and work your way up from there. Give yourself at least two days between minimalist running days.
Listen to your body. This part is easy, as minimalist running shoes take away all the extra ‘stuff’ that stops you feeling the signals your body is giving you as you run.
And finally, get informed. Watch videos of minimalist runners. See how their bodies move differently:
- landing on the mid-foot under the body, not a damaging heel strike as you may have been able to do in padded running shoes
- take shorter, slightly faster steps
- ankles, knees and hips nicely tucked under each other so all your joints are working together.
- try and run like your kids do at the beach – full of joy!
This is the key to minimalist running: joy.
Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
(And welcome to the Barefoot Tribe)