It has been about two months since I purchased my Brooks Pure Connect minimalist running shoes. I have put about 200 miles on them and have nothing but great things to say about them. When I purchased the shoes the guy at the running store instructed me to take it easy and only do about 10% of my running in this shoe and build up over time. That concept makes sense but I have trouble listening sometimes. The day I bought the shoes I came home and went out for a quick 4.5 mile run and come to a couple of quick conclusions. I realized is that the design of the shoe makes it much easier to strike with my mid and fore foot and forced me to take a shorter stride and increase my cadence. Also, my feet felt great during and after my run. My biggest concern when buying these shoes was how would my feet and body feel after putting in long miles. I have added a few videos of me running in Black Creek Park to try and show what how my feet hit the ground.
I thought about gradually working into the new shoes but decided to listen to my body. So far my body has told me that it likes the new shoes so I haven't gone back to my cushioned running shoes. My calves were a little tight for the first couple of weeks but that passed and my hips, knees, ankles and feet have all felt better than they have in a long time. I am not going to give all of the credit to my shoes but they do help. The other reason I am feeling better is because I am running the right way. I have a lot of friends who are struggling with injuries right now. I have struggled with the same injuries in the past and think anyone who is sick of injuries getting in the way of training should give what I am doing some serious thought.
I can't say going out and buying minimalist style running shoes is going to fix every ones running related injuries. I think you need to understand why you have the injuries and make the needed adjustments. In my case I knew that I was a heel striker and that was a huge part of my problem. My posture was another problem. I was doing what some people call chasing my head, meaning I was leaning forward to far with my head down and in front of my feet. Now, did I know this right away? No shot! I did my research and worked on my form which is still not perfect but much better than it was.
What I have noticed after making adjustments to my running form, technique and footwear is that my ailments have all gone away. I have been gradually increasing my distance and the difficulty of my runs and I have continued to take note of some other positive changes.
1. My cadence has increased due to my shorter stride. I thought this might make me feel more fatigue earlier in the run but I have come to notice that I feel better later in the run. If I start feeling sluggish I pay attention to my cadence and make sure my stride isn't getting to stretched out.
2. My legs don't feel hammered at the end of a long run. That is because my feet land under my hips and not out in front of me so I am hitting the ground with less force. I am still tired at the end of a long run but minus any aches.
One question I do have is when do I replace my shoes? Do I wait until the soles are worn out or do I do it sooner?
I am not saying this will work for every runner but if you are experiencing injuries every year it is worth looking into. If you have an injury right now look at this hard and give it a try. What do you have to lose. I you have any questions let me know and I'll do my best to give you an answer.