Minimal Chi Running Shoes - Chi Running

Minimal Chi Running Shoes

Posted by Danny Dreyer on Thu Oct 29th, 2009, 53 comments

I just finished reading Born to Run while I was on my way out to Death Valley to teach Chi Running. I can see why it’s such a popular book and also why it’s causing such a stir in the running community. It’s a really fun read. Chris McDougall is funny and wonderfully imaginative in his role as a “creative documentarian.” If I weren’t such a slow reader, I’m sure I would have read the entire book in one sitting. The last half of the book is especially riveting. I think it is very appealing to long-time ultra runners like myself because of his ability to capture many of the same thoughts and feelings that run through your head when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, not knowing how far you’ll be going…or sometimes even where.

I can also see why McDougall is on the warpath against the major shoe manufacturers (esp. Nike). Once he saw and felt the difference that running on minimal shoes made in his biomechanics, he became a convert. There’s no way around it…if you run on less of a shoe, your foot has more of an opportunity to “educate” your body how to move more correctly because you can actually feel your connection with the Earth and develop a physical relationship with the ground passing by underneath you. Your footstrike changes, your posture changes, your point of balance changes…and that’s just the beginning!

If it takes a best-seller like this one to spark a dialog in the running community about demanding better designed shoes, then I’m all for it. I’ve been trying to convince shoe companies to make less of a shoe for years now and in describing my success with them I’ve ended up many times using the descriptive phrase, “It’s like trying to steer a tanker with a rowboat.”

I’m currently in the process of road-testing a number of minimal shoes and I plan to write reviews on each of the brands I try out. Here are some of the newest “flat” shoe companies: VivoBarefoot, FeelMax, Vibram FiveFingers, ECCO and Wilcor. I’ll be posting these reviews as soon as I feel I have a pretty complete sense of the shoes in question. If any of you have come across a minimal shoe made by someone not on this list, please forward me the name and contact info of the company and I’ll be happy to give them a try.

In addition to these shoes there are many racing flats that are currently being produced by the “majors” that work just fine as a minimal shoe. BUT, the problem with the racing flats made by Nike, NB, Asics, Mizuno, Brooks and the like is that I’m seeing a trend that I predict will continue. In the past, if I wanted a good, flat, cheap pair of minimal running shoes all I had to do was go online and order a $45 pair of flats and I was on my way. Racing flats have always been the cheapest shoes on the market because, I assume, they’re made with less materials. BUT, because of the current demand for more minimal shoes, I predict that, rather than spend their resources in developing a really cool minimal running shoe, we’ll be seeing racing flats increasing in cost to over $100…which will only entrench me further into the feeling that the big guns aren’t really out for the good of the runners. That being said, I’d be more than happy to see them prove me totally wrong.

Happy trails,



  • barefoot running,
  • barefoot shoes,
  • born to run,
  • chris mcdougall,
  • running biomechanics,
  • ultra running

53 CommentsLeave a comment below

What a timely article, Danny!  I wish the audio were better, but your blog readers might like to see you talk about shoes with the folks from renegade health:

My favorite part of your talk is the fact that it’s more important to change your FORM than your SHOES.  My current running shoe is still fairly cushioned (Saucony Jazz 12).  My ChiRunning instructor said it was more flexible in the forefoot than she thought it would be, but I am going to snatch up a pair of racing flats before they jack the prices!!!


What a timely article, Danny! I wish the audio were better, but your blog readers might like to see you talk about shoes with the folks from renegade health:

My favorite part of your talk is the fact that it’s more important to change your FORM than your SHOES. My current running shoe is still fairly cushioned (Saucony Jazz 12). My ChiRunning instructor said it was more flexible in the forefoot than she thought it would be, but I am going to snatch up a pair of racing flats before they jack the prices!!!


Year 5 of chi-running.  I thought I had developed good form.  But, my feet were arguing with me.  The four different sore spots screamed, do something.  So, I took my size 11.5, 13 oz. shoe and replaced it with a 7.5 oz. shoe.  As I took to the road I was suddenly overwhelmed with information from all parts of my body.  Even the joints of my toes.  Feedback was instantaneous as I made corrections constantly.(thanks D and J for all the info needed to make corrections).  The first day I ran short, three miles, didn’t want to “hurt” myself.  The following morning my legs felt fresh, some of the sore spots seemed less so.  I wanted to run again.  Each day it was like that.  After 6 days of the 3 milers I decided to do my long run, 6.  During it I realized that all these years of running with Danny and Katherine that I had ignored an essential element of their message.  After as I took off my shoe and marvelled at the unmuffled perfection of only 10mm under my forfoot and 15mm under my heel, it was like hearing my favorite piece of music after finally taking the piece of 2 inch foam that was taped over the front of the speaker, off.  Now, I am going to take the insulation off the front of the other speaker, and see how it goes for me running on both of the new shoes.


My shoe size is 12 EE and I am 190 lbs, my BMI is about 28.  I tried the MR800’s 12D and they are too narrow for me :(.  It bums me that NB doesn’t make these shoes in wide width.  I am getting 12.5 D shoes based on your suggestion.

If those don’t work, do you have any suggestions for a transitional shoe for me?

Thanks - I have read the book and watched the DVD and try to follow the principles.

Danny, I’m interested to hear about how these shoes are in cold weather.  Many of the minimal shoes are freezing up here in New England. Other than that i’ve seen nothing but open mesh minimal shoes. 

I also came across this cold weather shoe from Adidas.  It is said to be for midfoot/forefoot strikers.  I’m not sure what the midsole heights are.  If you try this out let us know!

In my opinion this is a huge potential for the footwear companies…to design and develop a true minimal midfoot strike shoe that can be worn year round.

The Vibram KSOs are a decent option but they are very tight on my toes. 

After learning ChiRunning I do much better running in the cold.  I think it has to do with using my internal core muscles and improving circulation via loose joints (just my hunch)
However, for whatever reason my feet are always freezing!

Looking forward to the reviews.

Hi Ryan,
Thanks for your post. I totally agree with you that is a huge potential for the running shoe companies to develop a true year-round shoe. I figure that all it would take would be a thin layer of insulating foam under the footbed or in the shoe insert and uppers made of Gore-tex or some other weather-proof or water resistant coating. For me, it’s not just the fact that I get cold feet from them getting wet...but most of the mesh uppers on the lighter weight running shoes (flats, et al) offer no wind protection, which does equally as good of a job of freezing my toes. When I run in cold dry weather I’ve found that simply laying a wide piece of good ol’ duct tape across my toes (on top of my socks) will keep most of the cold air from getting to my toes. Try it.

Don’t the running shoe companies realize that running happens all year for many people…even those who live in colder climates?


Hey, everybody, I just did a little research into some flat running shoes and stumbled upon a page of flat running shoes that aren’t “racing flats.” They all seem to be retro remakes of the original shoes of NB, Nike, Puma, Adidas and Saucony which were produced between 1981 and 1984. These shoes are flat and were designed before the shoe companies began messing with a good thing. Go to:   The right hand side of the page has other models to check out.

The good thing you’ll notice is the PRICE of these shoes…All under $70!!!

Hey, if the shoe fits…


Eric Tobias Nov 2nd, 2009 03:33pm

I’m trying Nike Free 5.0.  At first I was uncertain.  I felt that the arch was too much for me and it caused my calfs and quads to become tight. Now I have been using them for two weeks and the shoes feel much more comfortable.  I do not know if that is because the arches are less firm or that I am more conscience of keeping my legs relaxed.

Hey, Eric,
My guess is that you’re actually learning to relax your lower legs more. Keep up the good work and you’ll see even more benefits. I’ve tried the Nike Free’s and even the 5.0 has a little too much heel for me. They still don’t trust that you don’t need more heel cushioning. But, the rest of the shoe is great.
Good luck,


Thanks for the link.  Just about every shoe is available only in “D” width :(.  Any suggestions for wide flat shoes?

Did you say you need wide shoes as well?

Thanks Danny - I’m going to continue working on my technique and shedding some extra pounds before attempting too minimalist of a shoe.

Hey Rob,
That’s a really smart choice and in the “long run” you’ll be happy you took the time to do it right because the payoff will be that much greater when there’s “less of you.”

Now, Danny’s suggestion about the retro shoes is VERY interesting.  Lots of places sell these.  Here’s one that appears to have lots of models:

The Zappo’s site Danny sited has lots of them, too.  It would be interesting for mid-foot strikers to compare results with these throwback shoes.  Zappo’s has the original Saucony Jazz (according to Runner’s World, Rod Dixon won the 1983 NYC Marathon in those).,7120,s6-369-371—12325-0,00.html

Hey Danny—if someone had a choice between getting a pair of these types of shoes OR a pair of racing flats, what would be the pros/cons?  They seem to cost about the same.

Hey, Steve,
Thanks for your additional research on the subject. As far as the difference between the retro shoes and racing flats, i’d have to say that the retro shoes would last longer and would be in wider sizes. Most flats seem to run very narrow. Also, the retro shoes would be a great midfoot option for someone learning the midfoot strike without going quite so minimal.

So far the Asics Hyperspeed 3 is working perfectly for me. I need wide forefoot, but the relatively narrow fronts of these so far aren’t a problem. The only downside of the shoes are the soles under the forfoot have waffle holes that allow water and mud up into the shoe.  I’m going to try packaging tape on the underside of the sockliner to keep the water out today.  $75 or less online.  Very light.
Asics Piranha looks very interesting.  Even lighter.  Perhaps no holes.


What about New Balance MT100?  This is supposed to be successor to 790.

I really like the MT100’s. They’re extremely lightweight, flexible, have decent traction…and feel like a true racing flat designed for trails.

They wouldn’t be good in cold weather, but as long as it’s warm and dry, they’re perfect.

I loved your chirunning book, read it after reading “born to run” both books are excellent (have read them thru twice!). I purchased the VFF shoes and, after breaking them in, they are terrific. I found that the less cushion you have, the lighter your foot strike and the better your posture. And whenever I begin to loose my focus while chirunning, I chant your “find your center” mantra from page 37 and it brings me right back into the moment. Thank you! I love running so much now.

Dave Saltmarsh Nov 15th, 2009 07:09am

Looking forward to reading the reviews.  I have been running in Newtons for about a year now. Expensive and maybe not as minimal as other but I love them.  My wife has the 5-fingers and I’ll give them a try next summer for beach running.
I am looking for something minimal to wear for the Mt. Washington race next June.
As with the Newtons—I feel that I have found another perfect match for me in Chi
Running.  For years I thought that I was “out there” with how I run—I never knew that I was a Chi Runner. I feel new sense of focus.  Thanks for your blogs.

Frederick Hindman Nov 16th, 2009 05:29am

I read ‘Born to Run’ as soon as it came out, and I immediately wondered if Chi Running folks were reading it.  It validates the concept of Chi Running.  Especially from the perspective that we are designed to run.  The first thing that attracted me to Chi Running is that it is based on how your body is designed to move.  In ‘Born to Run’ it mentions those parts of the body that wouldn’t be there unless we were runners…nuchal tendon, gluteus maximus, achilles tendon.  If I remember correctly, Mcdougal says there are about 26 parts of the body that wouldn’t be there if not for running.  I am also becoming a big believer in the less is more as far as shoes.  But I would be reluctant to advise folks this way unless they are running with correct form.  Please encourage Chi Runners to read this book.

Marie Spodek Nov 16th, 2009 09:14am

My physical therapist suggested that I invest in the ChiRunning book, which I did. Then, I read Born to Run (five times!) and invested in the VivoBarefoot Lucy shoes. I KNOW that I should have taken more time to change over, but, they felt so good that I walked out of the store and haven’t looked back. Last year, I tried to run the NYC marathon and had to drop out because of injuries. I was trying again, but didn’t really start training until the end of August. Between the barefoot shoes and what I could get from your video, I trained in earnest. So, on November 1, 2009, I FINISHED my first marathon…although there were 42,000 ahead of me, there were 500 after me and others who dropped out and many more who didn’t even try! Although I hurt through the night, by the next morning, I was good to go. No blisters! BTW, I found that the “loosen ligaments” that you suggested were just excellent.

And I just turned 66!

I trained road running in the Catskills. Started to prefer running in the grass and across fields…My son asked me how I responded to the “hills” in the ING NYC marathon, and I thought for a moment and said, “What hills?”

Can’t wait until I can take one of your seminars; believe that will “kick it up a notch.” Thanks!

Hi Danny,  i am new to ChiRunning; i got some coaching from Chris Griffen and am having great success. I think it is time to replace my running shoes, broken in before i started midstrike running. Do you have any recommendations for women’s shoes?

Hi Karen,
I’d say that yes, the book would answer all of your questions. I’d also recommend that you go to our ChiRunning Forum on the website where you’ll find answer to all of your questions. It is a very well-informed site with a fabulous moderator…and at this point almost any question about running and ChiRunning in particular has been answered completely.

Best wishes with your running,

I tried the NB 800 minimal mid-foot strike running shoes starting in the beginning of Feb. this year, and loved them up until I got a stress fracture the beginning of Aug. Then, even though I just purchased a new pair, I had to ditch them! I don’t know if minimal shoes are appropriate for females over 40 - I am 50 with feet that start out supinating and end up falling over my arch when tired and late-stage pronating. Then I read that mid-foot/forefoot strikers are coming in with a higher rate of injury than traditional runners and I feel like one of those statistics! I would like to see some over 50 female runner success stories with these shoes doing Chi or Pose style of running. I have to say that ladies who are successful running this way must be genetically blessed, or I am genetically cursed with weird feet! I really would like to qualify for Boston without breaking anymore metatarsals!

I’d like to respond to Susan Gallo’s comments. It’s terrible that you’ve had a stress fracture, but it’s not necessarily because of your shoe choice. Also, the NB800 would not be considered by many to be a minimalist shoe; certainly McDougal wouldn’t consider it to be one.

Technique is primary, shoes secondary. You mention injury rates being higher for mid and forefoot planters. I’ve never seen such a study, though I’ve read a summary of one showing just the opposite. Please let us know where you saw this. Anyway, it’s important to recognize that just because a person lands midfoot does not mean they’re using the Chi Running method and just because they’re landing forefoot does not mean they’re using the Pose Method. And even if someone is trying to use either method, that doesn’t mean they’ve gotten it down. You wanted to read of some success stories for over 50 female runners. Frankly, you can find an apparent success story to support any method. Individual experiences really don’t prove a theory or a method. It’s a bit more interesting to read that the Tarahumara Indians, both male and female, run great distances in sandals throughout their lives without injury. I don’t know if that’s really a confirmed fact, but it’s a more interesting anecdote than those which reference only single individuals.

It seems likely to me that your technique and your training regimen are more important factors than your shoes. I’ve seen no evidence that modern running shoes protect runners and there’s at least one study showing a corelation between the cost of running shoes and injury rates. The higher the cost, the more the injuries. That’s only one study - not scientific proof. But it sure is interesting.

Good luck.

I totally agree with Dan that running technique is more primary than running shoes. I also agree that the NB800 is not a minimal shoe. Quite the opposite. Yes, it’s flat, but there’s a lot going on with the outer sole that could present problems for some runners, especially those with over-pronation tendencies.

Someone asked about whether or not the Spira Stinger would be considered a minimal shoe. The measure of whether or not a shoe can be considered minimal or not is directly proportional to the difference in your height when you’re wearing them and when you’re barefoot…the more they increase your height, the less minimal they are. When I looked at the Spira’s on their website it was immediately obvious to me that they’re far from minimal.

The more shoe you have, the more your body has to do to compensate for not being in touch with the ground underneath you…and the less likely it is to send an accurate message to your brain as to how to proceed correctly.

I’m glad I wrote this particular blog because of all the questions and comments it has engendered. Keep ‘em coming!

I wonder if you have ever seen MBT shoes.  Despite the fact that they have the word “barefoot” in the title, these just wrong based on everything you’ve posted here.

In fact, these *look* like the opposite of minimal shoes: “maximal” shoes, I guess.  But looks are often deceiving.  Ever seen, heard of, or worn these guys? 


-Hey, Steve,
I have worn a pair of the MBT’s and they are about as far from barefoot as you could get (with the exception of 5” stilettos). They claim to strengthen your core, improve your leg strength and balance and many other things. The rocker design on the bottom of the shoe keeps you in a state of constant imbalance which forces your leg muscles and core muscles to take over to maintain balance. Again, it’s the shoe doing the work that the body should and could learn on its own. For as well-intentioned as the MBT people might be, I think they should seriously consider changing the name to MT…Muscle Trainer. I’d like to hear what the Masai people think of the shoes named after them. wink

@Susan - The MR800 midfoot strike shoe is not a true minimal shoe. It is intended as a transition shoe for midfoot strikers to eventually work their way into a minimal shoe.  I have seen several women over 40 running in Vibram Five Fingers which are practically barefoot, so I dont think its the age that is the factor. You mentioned your foot mechanics change “when tired”. As a coach, if I were running with you and you were tired to the point of not being able to correct your technique, I would suggest it is time to stop the run. Rely on your body first and foremost. If you are tired and your foot strike is changing that much, your body is telling you it’s time to stop the run. Also, keep in mind that every scientific study is anectodal. We have to rely on the scientist(s) who set up the test parameters and reviewed the data.

How long have you been practicing ChiRunning and what is the extent of your practice? It’s great you have the goal for qualifying for Boston but remember, ChiRunning is about shifting the focus from an external goal to an internal body sensing exercise.

What about MBTs and Sketcher Shape Ups? Would they work or go against Chi?

2010 new VFFs ... wonder if Danny is testing any of the new models?  The Bikila looks neato

The MBT/Skechers shape ups are very different than ChiWalking. Part of the idea behind the MBT was to engage/strengthen the glutes and hamstrings. They are designed to give you buns of steel. In ChiWalking and ChiRunning we want the exact opposite, relaxed glutes because tight glutes will inhibit your rearward leg swing. I would not recommend the MBTs for a ChiWalking practice.

Well, I’ve been testing a pair of the Vibram Five Finger Treks. They’re the model designed for trail running. First of all I’d have to say that they are far and away the most comfortable version of the FF line. The soles have a miniature version of those great soft rubber lugs that Vibram has been putting on the bottoms of hiking boots for decades. They offer great traction and the additional rubber on the bottoms helps shield your feet from pointed rocks and gravel. The uppers are made of kangaroo skin (like the old track shoes used to be) and, I hate to use the cliche, they fit like a glove and breathe like a fishnet. I mean it…they’re snug, yet you hardly feel like you’ve got shoes on. I feel like a bomb-proof monkey in these things. I’m not sure if I could run for very far on paved roads with them, but for ChiRunning on trails, they’re light and fun…and what more can I say…they’re one of my newest favorites!

As long as I’m blogging about shoes, I’d like to pass on a review of another pair of trail racing flats I’ve been really impressed with. I ran the USATF National Trail Championships in the La Sportiva Crosslite shoes with great success. They’ve got traction like almost no other shoe I’ve ever had on. I wear a size 10 and have a wide foot so I generally have trouble wearing shoes with a taper in the forefoot. These shoes have a slightly pointed toe, so I don’t wear them on really long runs. I recently won my age group in an 18-mile hill climb here in N.C. that climbed 3000’ over extremely rough single-track trails covered in 6” of freshly fallen leaves…a recipe for disaster, but not in these shoes. The sense of sure-footedness I felt allowed me to keep a good pace in places where other runners were slowing down to keep from rolling their ankles on well-hidden rocks lying hidden beneath the leaves. These shoes have a piece of stretchy cloth that covers the laces completely, so no rocks or debris get into the shoes. It’s almost like wearing gaitors and your laces never get a chance to come untied because you can tuck the loops underneath the lace covers. They’re very flexible in the forefoot, which is high on my list of attributes for a great running shoe and they’re reasonably light weight for a trail shoe (11oz. for size 10). They must have put some kind of membrane under the forefoot because I really couldn’t feel any of the pointed rocks I was landing on. Lastly, one thing I noticed when I lined up at the start of this last race…I was surrounded by a pack of 200 gnarly, hardcore trail runners and about two out of every ten runners had them on!
Happy Trails!


Danny, do you think i can use minimal trail shoes like new balance MT100 even if i mainly run on hard concrete road ?

Eric Tobias Dec 7th, 2009 11:28am

Have you done any testing of “road” shoes?  I can never can get into trail running.  When I do some with my friends I have to be extremely careful of not tripping over roots.  Being agile is not my forte.


After injuries shortened my 2007 and 2008 running to ~8 months each year, I committing to ChiRunning and have logged 550 injury free miles in 2009! (and just finished my 1st (Atlanta Thanksgiving) Half Marathon in 1:58, 2 minutes under my goal.)

Interested in trying out minimalist shoes, but I run 99% of the time on sidewalk/asphalt.  I continue to work on my form, and have a 20.9 BMI (down from 24.5 thanks to ChiRunning). 

Any recommendations?  The Vibram KSO perhaps? Thanks!

Found a link for cheap NB 790s (Mens only) @ Nordstroms.  Thought I’d share here:

Shari Coskey Dec 9th, 2009 02:58pm

Dear Danny,
I have just had my first session with Hazel in San Anselmo and am really thrilled.  I found your book so incredibly helpful in shifting my injury history.  I have switched to the VFF and am taking it slowly.  I feel like this is the perfect marriage for an injury free-joyful life, ChiRunning and VFF. 
My question involves calf development.  I see my lower legs becoming more developed (very low mileage) and I wonder how this jives with your ideas.  In the five fingers, there is a lot of strengthening of the foot through gripping and stabilizing.  Can we still have very relaxed calves in the VFF?
Many thanks,
Shari Coskey

Hi Danny,
I am 214 lbs (overweight BMI). Very flat wide 2E feet. All these years been told I need motion control shoes. Had my running gait analyzed on video. Now being told I have neutral bimechanics!!! Need a neutral shoe with a wide straight last. Know of any such shoes. The only straight last shoes I know are about 12 oz and lots of heel. My problem is lightweight shoes have a curved last and my arches spill over the side of the shoe. Thanks for all your teachings.

ditto Mober, I actually want to check out the speed after seeing it on your site:

Thomas E. Booker Dec 16th, 2009 07:27pm

Hello Danny,

First and foremost, thank you for ChiRunning. I’m still trying to learn each of the techniques and form focuses, but since my start with ChiRunning 6 months ago, I’ve overcome MTSS, calf strains, and experienced improvement in my posture.

I was wondering if you have looked at the Newton Guidance Trainer - - as a minimalist road shoe? Dave Saltmarsh mentioned that he runs in Newtons, but based on your response to Andrea about the Mizuno Wave, you may find them overpriced. Nevertheless, if the Newton Guidance Trainer is a great ChiRunning shoe, than it might be worth the price.

What are your thoughts? Also, when will you be posting your review of the minimalists running shoes?

On another note, have you looked at compression running wear such as 2XU or CW-X for ultras?


Thomas E. Booker Dec 16th, 2009 07:47pm


You recommended the La Sportiva Crosslite trail shoes. I’m tempted to make these my next pair. Yet, it is hard to move away from the Brooks Cascadia 4 & now 5.

At a size 9, the weight is 12.6 oz. Besides a great ride, Scott Jurek, ultra trail runner and profiled in the book “Born to Run,” has helped design and bring each iteration to market.

Have you any experience with the Cascadia trail shoes? What’s your take?


Two days after running 3 miles in my new 5oz. size 11 1/2 shoes. (a jump down from months in my 7.5 oz) The experience is most barefoot but enough sole to not worry about glass. I can feel the activation of new muscles which the compensatory form adjustment required, but I feel better than ever due to chi-running form. The lighter shoes forced out the best of my chi-form. Two comments after reading all 50 of the above comments. 1.Chi form and minimal shoes work together, (you can only get so far without the other). 2.Minimal shoes will not lower the price of shoes.  Nor should it. Consider the bikini and racing suits. Equalizing the total cost of shoes to each runner will be the fact that improved form will reduce shoe breakdown. Lowering the cost of running will be reduced body breakdown.

Thomas E. Booker Dec 24th, 2009 11:47am


Adopting the ChiRunning method has been a blessing. I’ve overcome several injuries through the use of body sensing and other ChiRunning techniques. Thank you.

I would appreciate your insights on two minimalist shoes. I can’t remember who in the various posts mentioned the Newton running shoes, but what is your opinion of the Newton Sir Issac Guidance Trainer for the road?

For the trail, how does the Cascadia 4 & 5 compare to the La Sportiva Crosslite, which you recommended? Scott Jurek, a renown ultra trial runner, has help design the Cascadia.

Finally, off the subject, what are your thoughts about compression wear, such as CW-X or 2XU, for ultra trail runs?


Absolutely! long as your form can support running on minimal shoes. The thing that a lot of people don’t realize is that in order to wear minimal shoes you have to be able to run with very little impact on the ground. So, if you go with the minimal shoes, be sure to take your time building up your mileage and don’t go any farther or faster than your feet allow you to go with NO discomfort.

The Vibram shoes are one of the best minimal shoes on the market, but they are extremely minimal and I would not recommend them for everyone. If you run exclusively on sidewalk and asphalt, which it sounds like you do, I would also experiment with some of the racing flats which provide at least a little bit of cushioning for someone transitioning into less of a shoe. The Asics Hyperspeed, Saucony Jazz classic, Adidas Adizeros, NB T-100’s are a few to try.

Hi Shari,
It is very important that EVEN WITH MINIMAL shoes like the VFF’s you need to be able to run with your ENTIRE lower leg relaxed. So if you’re feeling tension or even use of your lower legs, you’re doing more than you need to and working your calves more than is necessary. Keep working at it and it will come. What your shooting for is to feel NOTHING in your calves…whether you’re running uphill, fast, downhill or anywhere.

All the best,

I don’t necessarily believe that because you’re biomechanics are neutral, that it means you need a straight lasted shoe. I’m sure that my running form is very neutral, yet I don’t feel comfortable running in straight lasted shoes…the curved lasted shoes feel more like they work best with the shape of my foot. I guess it comes down to the old saying…“if the shoe fits…wear it.”  Don’t limit your choices by what you hear, but by what your FOOT tells you.

Hey Mober,
I’ll get VFF to send me a pair and let you all know what i thing of them. they look great on the website!

Regarding Danny’s comments regarding shoees for hard surfaces: I run almost exclusively on asphalt and concrete and just picked up a pair of Asics Hyperspeeds.  I really like them alot.  They are very light and have just enough cushioning to suit me.

I’m a 70 year old 32 year runner. I started teaching myself Chi running about 2 years ago. Had some immediate sucess in terms of preceived effort but no more improvement as of late. About 6 months ago I bought a pair of Mizuno wave runners (7 oz). $120. I started walking in them for a half a mile or so. They initially felt very strange. After a few weeks I started running keeping my cadence at about 85-90 cpm. What I noticed right from the start was my foot plant was much smoother and lighter. Did not have that “huge” heel getting in the way and I think I was executing a nice mid foot landing. I’ve been running every other day in them for the past month and am up to 3/4 mi. The feeling is remarkably easy and there is no jaring sensation on landing. Granted at this point I’m luckey if I’m doing a 13 min mile but it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever felt running. My plan is to slowly increase my mileage over the next 14-16 weeks. So far so good.
  Thanks for all you do…keep it up

If only Nike and the rest of the Majors would drop the endorsing of pro athletes, they could cut the cost of the shoes we buy. Show me the show not the spoiled athelete.

What a timely article, Danny! I wish the audio were better, but your blog readers might like to see you talk about shoes with the folks from renegade health:

My favorite part of your talk is the fact that it’s more important to change your FORM than your SHOES. My current running shoe is still fairly cushioned (Saucony Jazz 12). My ChiRunning instructor said it was more flexible in the forefoot than she thought it would be, but I am going to snatch up a pair of racing flats before they jack the prices!!!

First, I’m interested to hear about how these shoes are in cold weather. Many of the minimal shoes are freezing up here in New England. Other than that i’ve seen nothing but open mesh minimal shoes. Thanks for your post. I totally agree with you that is a huge potential for the running shoe companies to develop a true year-round shoe.

I will come back. Perfect post!

Hi Tory,
So far no luck with finding a truly year-round shoe. The best cure that has appeared in the responses I’ve received is to buy a winter pair of minimal shoes and wear neoprene socks (like divers use). The other option in really nasty snowy weather is to have an all-weather trail shoe… the lugs on the sole are more aggressive for traction and the uppers are warmer and more water and wind resistant. Since you’re never going to be doing your best running in these conditions, it’s fine to use this type of shoe for the odd funky weather run as needed.

Peter Dorsa Oct 5th, 2010 04:21am

For winter I have used Seal Skins socks, neoprene-like socks paired with a light wool liner sock, and my feet stay dry and warm enough to be out up to 2 hrs. That has worked well for trail runs as well as snowshoe running. For both I have used a pair of Soloman Gortex trail shoes. Yes, very clunky, stiff, over-built, yada yada…. not much else out here yet in Goretex.

On another note I just attended my 1st Chi Running workshop last Saturday in Manhattan so have yet to convert to the minimalist shoe idea. That said, one of my favorite shoes in the mid 90’s was Asics DS trainer, until they mucked it up with that trustic plastic support thing. For anyone using cross country flats for wet muddy trails/grass, there are some real deals out there.

Thanks Danny and co-pilots for a great class Saturday.

Hi Peter,
Thanks for your advice on the Seals Skins. I’ll look them up. I agree, the old DS trainer was a fabulous shoe, but alas went the way of all good designs… replaced by something lesser. Goretex shoes are clunky, but WARM. It’s all I use.


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