When I first started running just a few years ago, I was all about the padding. Every article I read supported the theory that running shoes should help cushion the blow of the sport by softening the pounding on the feet. But in the last few years, a new trend has emerged that turns this notion on its head – barefoot running.
The premise behind barefoot running is that our feet are already designed to run. And most feet don’t need extra cushioning to get the job done. In fact, some running pros have gone so far as to say that running shoes with lots of padding distort what would normally be a strong running stride and are therefore actually the cause of most common running injuries such as shin splints, runner’s knee, and plantar fasciitis – three injuries with which I happen to be personally acquainted.
My curiosity was piqued, but I was hesitant. Could barefoot running shoes really help me run better than my current cushioned shoe? The answer – I have come to learn – is hell yes!
As I’m sure you know by now, this summer I have been focusing on losing weight and improving my fitness level. I have been participating in the Shaklee Cinch program as part of Team Cinchspiration and also blogging about my workout efforts for the Go Green Get Fit Challenge. So I was incredibly psyched when I found out that the presenting sponsor for the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, Planet Shoes, planned to send all 30 of the GGGF bloggers a new pair of running shoes to support out fitness goals! I decided that there would never be a better time to give barefoot running a try.
My choice: the Merrell Lithe Glove barefoot running shoe. I picked this shoe for three reasons. It got fantastic reviews, both on the Planet Shoes site and on other running forum sites as well. It’s vegan-certified, making it a good fit for runners who are trying to go green. And they look badass! All of that bright color was bound to make me go faster, right?
Well it did! Now that they are broken in, these aptly named shoes really do fit just like a glove. And they are so light and feel so snug on my feet that they have shaved some time off of my daily runs. I’ve only been running in them for a few weeks, so it’s too soon to make any definitive judgement on whether or not these shoes can help prevent running injury. But I can tell you that my persistent plantar fasciitis, that I have been battling with on and off over the last year, has not reared its ugly head since I’ve been running with these shoes.
It’s important for me to tell you that there is a significant breaking-in period for these shoes. I knew that and took special care to only wear them for short walk or for a couple of hours around the house before I unleashed them on their first run. Trust me, if you’ve never worn barefoot shoes before, you want to make sure they are very broken in before you run with them unless you want your heels and toes looking like chopped meat!
The Merrell Lithe Glove has become my new fave running shoe of choice. I highly recommend this shoe for anyone who wants to dip their toes into the world of barefoot running. And I’d like to give a big shout-out to Planet Shoes as well. I love the fact that they offer carbon-offsets for their shipping and that they seek out awesome shoes that blend function, style, comfort and value with eco-ethics.
Have you ever tried barefoot running shoes? Or running without any shoes at all? Tell me about it in the comments below.