Sunday, August 21, 2011

Running FREE!!

Post contributed by Anna Boom

Over the last few years, minimalist running shoes have become very popular. I became intrigued and started running with the Nike Free back in the mid 2000's. I thought you might also be interested in what the theory behind this new school of shoe is about. A quick wiki search provided a bit of information.

Nike came out with the Free design back in 2004. It was based on training by some track athletes, who were out on the track, running barefoot. One of the theories behind running barefoot is your body was born to run. When you think of the best runners in the world, who comes to mind? Kenyans. And what shoes do they grow up training in? Nikes, Adidas, Asics? Nope. Plain bare feet. This builds their foot, ankle, calf, knee, thigh, body, up to running naturally. Instead of putting on a shoe with more cushion, take away the big soft heel, and train your body to support you.

If you are willing to try this type of low profile shoe, the number one training tip that you must adhere to: start slowly! I am not talking speed, but mileage. Start with walking your kids and dog around the block first, then build up to some speed work, then a short 5Km race. I have heard of and know many runners who put a minimal shoe on, love it and start running the same distances they were in their old bulkier shoe, right out of the gate. This leads to injury so please, please, please start slowly.

When I first put on the Frees, I only walked in them doing my everyday errands. Then I started running shorter week runs in them before building up to the longer weekend runs. I love the Frees and have been running in them for 6 years now.

One note on the Frees: they use a numbering system that indicates the amount of cushion.  One is equivalent to barefoot and twelve is a normal running shoe, so the Nike Free 3.0 is the lowest amount of cushion or the closest they have to no shoe. I have every flavor in the Frees and use them for all types of training runs.

If you want to know more or read a wonderful book, try Born to Run, by Christopher McDougall. It was published in 2009 and is about running with minimalist shoes, like Mexico’s Tarahumara tribe, who run in cut up pieces of tires, and Barefoot Ted, who runs in, well you guessed it. Mr. McDougall also delves into the history of why humans are born to run. It is a great read and is soon to be a movie.

Great theory, right? I follow it as do many of you who I see running in Vibrams. Remember though, it is a theory and you need to listen to your body and follow what works for you.


  1. Comment provided by Heidi Bredlow

    I couldn't agree more! I am a huge advocate for minimalist running but the bottom line is this: you have to ease into it slowly and listen to what your body is telling you. If you run all the first day in your new footwear you are begging... for an injury. It's like learning to run/walk all over again. Start out small (baby steps) and slowly work your way up to where you used to be. It can be discouraging though. When I transitioned to Vibrams several years ago I was running over 8 miles with ease. First day in Vibrams and I could barely go a mile without about discouraging. Ease into it and train your body slowly. Now, I don't look back and I couldn't be happier with my running shoes (or lack thereof).

  2. I loved "Born to Run" ... just finished reading it a couple weeks ago. Definitely worth the time! I didn't know a movie was being made!! I'll be looking fwd to that!
    Angie K

  3. If anyone wants to borrow my copy of Born to Run, let me know. I couldn't put it down. Maybe our next WOOT date night should be viewing the movie together?

  4. I think that's a great idea!