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December 28 2012 / Emily

BIR1: My Foray into Minimalism

Today I’m introducing a new feature here at run. eat. nap. drink.  The Bad Idea Runner, or BIR for short.  I’ve gone on some bad idea runs in the past and will pull from past and present experiences to share what I learn.

BIR #1: Trying more minimal shoes in the midst of under-training for new distances.



That’s right, today I decided it was time to finally cave to something I’ve been considering for quite a while: the minimal shoe trend.

My two pairs of Brooks Ravenna 3 have 470 and 525 miles on per pair.  That’s a bad idea by itself.  In the past I’ve tried to keep shoes around 400 miles before replacing.  These Ravenna have obviously gone past that, and I’ve had discomfort as a result for the past month or so.  I bought a new pair of Ravenna 3s online in early September but I think something was wrong with them.  The laces were different lengths and something felt weird inside the toe of one of the shoes (and no it’s not the rest of the lace).  I ran a couple runs in them, 20 miles total, and now they are sitting in a box, and I’m wondering if I can convince Zappos that they are indeed defective, even though I’ve kept them for like 4 months.

I've worn through multiple layers in the toe.

Ravenna 3: I’ve worn through multiple layers in the toe over 525 miles.

Maybe I should just change my blog name to the Bad Idea Runner because as I continue to write, it seems like all my ideas are bad.  Shoes hurt?  Keep wearing them!  Wear through the soles?  Just keep running!  Buy $100 shoes online and they are defective?  Don’t get around to returning them!

I headed out to Fleet Feet this morning with the intention of trying on some of the more minimal shoes and then probably just buying a new pair of Ravenna 3s.  I had been consulting the all-knowing internet and it seemed the Brooks PureCadence 2 had the minimal heel drop but still maintained some mild pronation control.  Sounded good to me.  I looked around the shoes for a little while and decided to try them on.  Talked over my thoughts with the shoe guy and he didn’t think it was too wild if I tried the shoes, as long as I did it in small bits.  Like, not to run the 50k next week wearing them.  Noted.

In addition to the PureCadence 2, I tried on the Newton Motion, which looked like a highlighter orgy and felt like there was something stuck to the bottom.  Probably the exhausted highlighters.  Those were not for me.  I also tried the Saucony Guide which looked super boring after the Newtons and felt way too narrow in the toe box.

Ultimately, I bought the PureCadence 2 and took them home.  Now it’s time to take them out for a quick spin and report back on whether this was a good idea or a Bad Idea Run.

here we go!

here we go!

Okay!  Five miles later, and I’ll say so far so good.  Per the internet estimates I’m finding, they are about 1.5 oz lighter than the Ravennas, and the heel drop is 4mm compared to 10mm on the Ravenna.  So they feel really light, and really flat.  I’m expecting some sore calves from the difference, but mostly during the run things didn’t feel too different.  Perhaps the ground felt a little harder, if that makes any sense.

My left calf did say hello to me a couple times during the run, like “hey you up there, something is different?” but my legs have been wacky for a little while due to my other shoes wearing out, so it wasn’t too crazy.  And I thought my toes were going numb in the early part of the run, and while they were, feeling came back as I warmed up.  I get numb toes a lot when it’s cold out, so that doesn’t have much to do with the shoes, just my poor circulation.

I’ll see how my legs feel later on, but maybe this won’t be such a bad idea after all.  Just need to keep to lower mileage on these shoes for a little while, but not let that keep me from getting miles in.  I’ll follow up.


On the next episode of Bad Idea Runner: running a 50k race on roughly 50k per week training!  Stay tuned!

Have you gone on any bad idea runs?  Under-trained, brand new gear, new food before or during, new distance, new route… Let me know in the comments!



Leave a Comment
  1. runninginnj / Dec 30 2012 11:10 PM

    About 2 years ago I started running in minimal shoes (options at the time were limited, so it was the firefighters). The build up for me was incredibly slow and cautious – took the whole winter to get to about 3 miles, and I fully committed by only doing these runs and not long after buying colonoscopy shoes for work and general use. I’ve never looked back. it probably helped that I’d only been running for 6 months before making the switch.

    • Emily / Dec 31 2012 11:19 AM

      thanks for your comment! I will be jumping right into marathon training again after my 50k next weekend, so I do not have a lot of time for cautious movement into the minimal shoes. I will have to do some alternating with my familiar shoes and hope my body can handle it. Glad you have enjoyed your minimal shoes – I look forward to checking out your blog too.

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