REI, like my USAA home and car insurance company, is a Co-op.  At the end of each year, they give their customers members rebates.  I used my rebate this morning to buy these minimalist trail shoes from Merrell.  I even got $5 back in change.  From REI, I took Canyon to Broadway and worked my way through The Hill over to Baseline.  At the Chautauqua Trailhead, I slapped on my new shoes for my first experiment with the “barefoot running” hype.

The advice, and I’ve received plenty, says to start off with short distances to allow your feet to adapt.  Immediately I felt like I probably won’t need to take it slow.  I expect to be able to run all week in these.  They feel fine.  But I only did about a 3 mile hike in them.  The Amphitheater Trail is extremely vertical, so I did very little actual running.  Today’s workout was more of a shuffle.  First uphill and then back down.  I ran in spurts but honestly my legs were too fatigued from yesterday’s trail romp in Lyons to do much running today.  I covered 3 miles in an hour which is essentially a walking pace, but it was also 1000 feet of elevation in 1.5 miles which is essentially a ladder.

Snow began to fall a mile into my run and the wind picked up as I neared Green Mountain.  I was dressed fine for it though with a long-sleeved all-weather gear shirt from Under Armour.  The trail was wet from yesterday’s rain.  The shoes did well navigating mud but I had to be careful on the descent over the slick rocks and logs.  Still, assuming I adapt to these shoes over the next two weeks, I think I might be able to wear them for the 25 mile CPTR.

The experiment with minimalist shoes has been on my radar for awhile.  My left foot still suffers from plantar fasciitis.  Not nearly as bad – I’d say about 20% of the initial pain remains.  I assume part of this is from getting better support in all my shoes but I actually suspect the improvement stems mostly from stretching.  The argument for minimalist shoes, or even barefoot running, is that modern shoes cause most injuries.  Or said another way, Nike created a boon for Podiatrists with their waffle trainer in the ’70s.  The extra protection against impact and pronation and supination isn’t needed and in fact causes us to run in ways that lead to injury.  Without modern footwear, runners take a shorter stride and fall more mid to fore foot.  And this leads to less injury.  The other reason I’m willing to experiment with barefoot style flats is these shoes were sort of free with my REI rebate.  We’ll see how the next couple of weeks pan out.