Amidst marathon training and post marathon relief, I have yet to even reference my new Merrell Barefoot shoes that I tested for Runner's World's next shoe guide.
I joyfully posted about being selected to test shoes in this entry. (click the this, duh. ha.) Now that I have had the shoes for about a month and a half, I think I can give them an adequate review.
Runner's World requested people who run a minimum of 25 miles/week. They never said they wanted us to run those 25 miles in our test shoes. Good thing because I don't think I could've done that...
I laced up these shoes for a handful of short runs. The first run was impressive but challenging. The lack of cushioning made my body kind of reverberate as each foot hit the boards especially toward the end of a run. I could feel all the uneven boards under my feet because the soles of these shoes are so flexible. (My main training terrain is the boardwalk from Asbury Park to Spring Lake in NJ. Either you're jealous or you know that I need to challenge myself with other types of terrain that incorporate hills and some form of challenge besides occasional piles of sand.) My ankles felt more strain and my calves burned a bit during each run.
BUT I felt faster. I didn't time these runs, but in spite of everything in the previous paragraph, these shoes made for a more powerful run. They made me feel stronger and more agile. Since I was at the tail end of training for Philadelphia, I didn't want to mess around with my feet/ankles and use these shoes too much. I never ran more than 4 miles in them. Transitioning back to my usual Asics Gel Speedstar 5 was a little strange, though. It was as though I had to re-learn how to smoothly land. I didn't feel like I was gliding (like I usually at least try to) in the Asics if I ran in the Merrells the day before. I felt awkward and heavy for at least the first mile or two.
I found myself using these shoes as recovery shoes the day after a long run. I sometimes have tightness in my right foot (nothing that consistent stretching doesn't eliminate but sometimes I don't have the time to stop and stretch the ball of my foot at will)and since these are barefoot shoes that are as comfortable as slippers, I was able to flex my feet at work without calling attention to myself. I wore them to work for the days following the marathon. (Yeah, I did go to work on Monday! That's a victory for me!!!) And if not for the fact that they make other shoes seem unbearable because they're as close to wearing nothing as you can get OH and for the fact that I'm not all that crazy about the colors and the bowling shoe/clown shoe combination style, I might wear them all the time. I suspect the women at work who give a crap about being fashionable and trendy are laughing at me whenever I walk in wearing these, but that's ok with me. There's such a difference in the (lack of) height of the sole compared to my Asics. Since cushioning isn't part of the structure, they are a lot smaller and lighter too:
I like the concept of recovery shoes and I'm glad I got mine for free. I don't think I'm going to run in these too much this Winter because I will be taking to the treadmill a lot, but I expect to test them out more in the Spring. I hope to test other types of running gear in the future. I'm glad I chose these and I suspect they won't be my only pair of minimalist shoes.