Shoes and Minimalism

This is my story about shoes.

My approach to shoes has always been indicative of my approach to running. In the past that meant that the shoe didn’t really matter; all I wanted to do was run in the mountains. But as I became more proficient in mountain running, and more aware of the mountain running scene (i.e., I read Born to Run), I began to learn about the different types of running shoes and the trends among runners. I happened to enter the sport at the beginning of the minimalist frenzy, and from the beginning I regarded it with skepticism. I was aware of how certain runners were known for cutting all the padding out of their shoes and running extremely long distances, and I heard about the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico running ultras in sandals, and I saw in those stories the same romanticism I saw in Born to Run. The public loves the idyllic stories about dedicated athletes just getting by and doing what they love: the crazy party girl who can still win 100-mile races; the dirtbag runners hitchhiking around the country setting records; the forgotten sandal-wearing distance-runner Indians living much the same as their ancestors in a mysterious mountain range. These images are romantic, but are they the truth? I didn’t think so. It seemed like too pretty a picture to be true.

Because of that I was prone to take more stuff on runs, rather than less. I figured the tried-and-true methods of the past were more difficult and less sexy, so they must be the right way. That’s how the adult world works, I was learning: if something is time-consuming, difficult and slow to show progress, it must be correct. Thus, I turned away from the example of the other young guys going too far on too little, thinking it shortsighted, and began going on runs with a backpack filled with things like sandwiches, space blankets, iodine tablets, a compass, a bivy sack, books, etc. To put it another way, I overcompensated to the extreme.

Over time, my views changed almost subconsciously. The more I ran, the more I understood what I did and did not need. The greater experience I gained, the better I grasped the fundamental principles behind long-distance mountain running. Namely, that by running we forgo traditional comforts and safety nets in lieu of confidence in our ability to return safely because we can move quickly. I gradually learned that I shouldn’t be taking a bivy sack on a mountain run; instead, I should be running only where I am good enough not to need a bivy sack. Barring disaster, I should be able to get myself out of bad situations by virtue of my ability to move quickly, rather than having to rely on artificial protection that hinders my speed, or I shouldn’t go to those places at all. With this knowledge I began to leave out items from my pack until after a while I no longer needed a pack. With adequate preparation and understanding of the terrain, summer mountain running in Colorado can be done safely and comfortably with a water bottle, several gels and/or bars, and a jacket. With enough experience, more than that seems unnecessary.

That said, shoes may be a different matter. I have learned to reconcile my skepticism of Born to Run in the following way: it is a book designed to entertain first, and give information second. The book is absolutely right that many trail running shoes of the past were astoundingly overbuilt, however, I have yet to see anybody win a competitive trail ultra while running barefoot, or wearing sandals, or FiveFingers, or some other iteration of the barefoot scene. While barefoot running is totally valid as a way to be strong and healthy, the science seems to indicate that the vast majority of people need some underfoot protection when running long distances. As for the young guys who were cutting all the padding out of their shoes and running super long distances, I can think of two in particular, one of whom races infrequently, at best, due to injuries and the other is now a farmer and hasn’t raced in years. Perhaps those are exceptional cases not to be considered in the overall pool, but their testimony seems compelling to me, so I have included it. Draw your own conclusions.

I drew my conclusions, and decided that minimalism is a very good thing to a certain point, beyond which the risks become too high. I started searching for lighter shoes, realizing that the extra weight in my old shoes was largely unnecessary. With lighter shoes I was a more precise runner, taking more care of each step, and this allowed me to become a better runner because I was more efficient. But lightness is not the only factor that matters – durability is crucial, as well. Especially in the mountains far from backup, shoes have to be able to withstand uneven, wet, loose and rocky terrain for hours at a time, or else the person wearing the shoes will be a sad sack, indeed. That’s why many road running shoes don’t work for mountain running – they lack the durability to survive the mountains for more than a few runs. I found that Montrail’s Rogue Racers worked particularly well for me, and I have worn many pairs since first trying them in 2010. Although they are by no means a barefoot running shoe, they are much lighter than I would have chosen just a few years ago. Despite my skepticism of the minimal movement, I gradually began to see its merit.

What Born to Run did for ultrarunning has been extremely positive. It put the sport into the mainstream consciousness and did a lot to show the public that ultrarunners aren’t crazy after all. Furthermore, the effect it has had on the shoe industry has been profound. Every company I know about is focusing on lightweight, low-drop shoes that provide protection without being heavy or bulky. Rather than the hiking boots that trail running shoes used to be, they now seem to take their inspiration from road running shoes, just adding more support and grip. Obviously those are generalizations, but nobody can deny that the trail running world has been consumed by the concept of minimalism, and nobody has remained untouched.

This is a good thing, because despite the fear-mongering about shoe companies conspiring to hurt their customers in order to get them to buy more shoes, designers have begun to focus on the natural structure of the foot and how that plays into the individual movements involved in running. Runners aren’t just looking for padding to protect us from rocks; we’re looking for a tool that will allow us to connect with the environments through which we run. Muddy trails need big lugs, rocky trails need sticky rubber, loose trails need stiffness and smooth trails need very little of anything. The trail shoes on the market today are designed to maximize the experience of trail running, rather than the trail shoes of the past, which were designed to minimize the damage done by the trails. It’s a subtle shift, but a profound one nonetheless.

This brings me to the latest stage in my evolution of running shoes. First, I wore whatever they gave me, but as I became better at running I began to seek out lighter shoes that wouldn’t fall apart. Now, I am interested in specificity to a degree I have not needed in the past. No longer am I interested in just running; I want to be climbing and adventuring, too. Normal shoes can only do so much. To truly move to the next level of mountain running, specific shoes are required.


That’s why I have recently tried out Salomon’s Fellcross and La Sportiva’s Anakonda. They are both suited to specific terrain that eludes the range of most other shoes. The Fellcross is designed for mud in places like the UK (“Fellcross” being derived from “fell running”), but also works very well for places like the San Juans which feature steep grass, loose scree- and boulder-fields, and snow of all consistencies. The Anakonda’s value comes in the vertical world. They have sticky rubber, which means they are good for rock climbing. Those interested in the progression of mountain running will know that one major direction of the sport is into steep and technical mountains. And the Anakondas are suited to the task.

For most runs I still stick to my trusty Montrails (and this is a secret, but I trust you – Montrail and I are working on some pretty cool products along this idea of specificity right now). When the terrain requires something more specific, I like to test the value of specific shoes. The sport today is becoming so popular that companies can afford to invest in new technologies that will make shoes more minimal without sacrificing quality. That is the real benefit of the minimalist trend: it is placing the industry’s focus on creating high-performance tools for athletes, which will allow more people the opportunity to be their best. I wouldn’t pretend to know the best way to be a mountain runner, because for everybody it is different. The above is what I have learned from my experiences running long distances, and it is helping me move into the future more prepared to achieve my goals. I know I will continue to change my opinions on these matters as I learn and grow, but that’s the best part – it’s always a learning process, and nobody has the right answer. We’re all just doing our best to be our best. Besides experience, the best way to learn is from others.

So I ask all of you reading this:

  • How do you choose shoes, and why?
  • What makes you like certain things and dislike others?
  • What would you like to see in running shoes?
  • What would your perfect shoe look like?

The interplay of opinions is a powerful force. Tell us what you think. People might take notice.

There are 219 comments

  1. Chris Cawley

    I have tried to like flat shoes for years, and while I like how nimble shoes with low heel-toe drop feel when trails get interesting, I find that I'm putting in significant volume day after day, my feet/calves appreciate a little help from a raised heel.

    I think my perfect shoe would be a montrail rogue fly with a lower volume upper and firmer midsole foam: these things seem significantly deformed after a couple runs, and completely dead after 100 miles. I noticed the same thing with the original rogue racers, of which I had two pair.

    Another qualm I have with trail shoes in general that is especially apparent in rogue fly's is that the heel-toe drop happens in the wrong place. Shoes that have significant heel-toe drop–most road shoes, for instance–are built to assist runners in "toeing off," and they have their most pronounced sole profile change occurring in the ball-of-foot area; this has always seemed quite natural to me, as that is where your foot bends. On lots of trail shoes, however, the sole becomes lower profile right under the arch. This is likely to facilitate quick feet and ground feel in challenging terrain, but it makes lots of trail shoes, even light weight options, feel clunky to me.

    1. Chris Cawley

      also, I think the Salomon Sense series have the best uppers ive seen in trail shoes. A stripped down version of the speedcross series, which for me have been the most durable shoes I've worn.

      Now that I think of it, my ideal shoe would be a Sense mantra with the heel-toe drop of a speedcross three. That, or a lighter weight speedcross three.

  2. Cory Kohm is the place! great selection, fast shipping, and easy site to navigate/use. Just want to give a second thumbs up to support the site. I frequent it second most, after irunfar :)

  3. George

    Nice article, Dakota. I am also glad that the days of motion control vs. stability vs. neutral vs. trail (shoe categories that I never fully understood) are behind us. What do I want in a shoe? Something that is light, responsive, flexible, has some drop (4-10mm), and some cushioning. A wide toe box and dark colors are also personal preferences. But most importantly, since I don't have the luxury of logging all of my miles in the mountains, I need a shoe that can handle a variety of surfaces (road and trail) and distances. My favorite shoe to date is the NB 101, which I have raced track 5ks and trail 50-milers in. I agree with others that the updates to that shoe do not hold up as well over longer distances, and they are simply not comfortable on the road (even when I'm just running a couple of miles to the nearest trailhead). I understand that there are different shoes for different purposes, but if you can simplify things by designing a shoe that I can log most of my miles in, I'm ready to give it a try.

  4. Vanessa L

    I agree with Ryan. has free 2 day shipping, free return shipping, liberal return policy, no sales tax (unless you live in CA), and offers a 15% discount for running club members on top of their low prices. I purchased my La Sportiva Helios from them. They only have a 4mm drop, are very flexible, wide forefeet, narrower heel – I love them! [Broken link to Dallas News Running Blog March 2013 article on the La Sportiva Helios removed.]

    1. Mark

      I can't see any critique of AK & KS in the article. Dakota writes about some well-known facts to illustrate his argument and put it into the context. Besides, overload your body for a long time, and you'll pay the price, i.e., get injured – this applies to any kind of activity.

  5. Spencer

    New Balances mt110's are my favorite shoes. I will wear them for practically everything. I used to really enjoy wearing merrel trail gloves, vivobarefoots, and just going barefoot, now I just really dig the mt110's.

  6. Noved

    I don't like a whole lot, but in my non-humbled opinion I'd rather carry an extra 2 ounces on each foot for a little less pain over long distances. Love the NB110 and the MT10, but can't do much more than 50k without totally destroying myself. The PI N1's are a little less than 10 oz. while the NB110 are less than 8. I'll carry those extra 4 for a little more confidence and security on harsh descents any day. For me, the padding "works". Though the legs and feet act as great suspension, I have mostly bones in my feet.

  7. Allisa L

    Great summary. I work for an outdoor/active retailer and I wish I could just give a copy of this out to anyone debating about minimalist shoe/gear selections. I usually caution people to resist the hype and wait until something has been on the market long enough to start to see long-term effects (not the typical sales technique but since my company sells little TRUE minimalist gear, it helps me build trust with a customer). Take the pharmaceutical industry, for example, as a consumer you don't buy a new drug that has just hit the market, you wait and see how it affects people over time. Same thing applies to minimalist footwear. I think we are starting to see the long-term effects (INJURY!) and so brands are beefing up their minimalist shoes and paring down their bulkier shoes to find a happy medium.

    Side note: Heartily agree with the durability thing. People should remember that a brand is very happy to sell you 3 pairs of shoes that can handle 200-300 miles each (ie. the very popular Pure Project shoes) instead of just one durable pair. More minimal shoes are marginally cheaper per pair but much more expensive per mile. Smarter consumerism will hopefully lead to better product development.

    1. John K

      My NB MT10s (a minimal shoe) already have 500+ miles on them, and will last another 500 quite easily. My Luna sandals also have 400+ miles on them – apart from wear on the treads, they are still in perfect condition. I expect they'll make it to 1000 miles too. If you have shoes without a "midsole" in them, there's no need to worry about the midsole "compressing", or the shoe becoming wobbly. Durability is in the eye of the beholder too.

      1. Allisa L

        You sound like a smart consumer. And like you said, if there is no midsole it doesn't matter. It's shoes with a low heel-toe drop but with a good dose of quick-to-wear-down cushion (again like the pure project shoes) that are more problematic. People buy them because they think minimalism is "healthier" and they don't want to go through the transition period that you had to go through with your true minimalist footwear. Even if you took a runner who only trains 50 mpw they would need new shoes every 6 weeks. That gets expensive. And if you don't buy new shoes then you get injured. Obviously you put a lot of thought into your footwear and I'm sure you put in the hard work required to get your feet to run far in minimal shoes. Unfortunately the average shoe-shopper doesn't do that.

    2. Lstomsl

      At the risk of sounding snarky "minimalist" footwear was the only thing that existed for almost all of human history. It's shoes that should be thoroughly vetted and tested before wearing. Of course that can never happen because manufacturers constantly change models in order to create marketing hype. How about if manufacturers retain tried and true models that people like??? Maybe then we could get some really useful data….

  8. Alex L

    Life-long forefoot striker, structure detester, cheapest-shoes-i-can-find wearer. I recently converted to moderate heal striking and high stability. It's the only way I can run without pain in my ankles. Peroneal tendonosis from chronic instability. There are dudes who can go damn fast with a little bit extra weight on their feet. We should bring a weight-weeny from the world of cycling into this discussion.

  9. Dan H

    In my experience, your feet will adapt to whatever you run in. Run in cushy trainers, you'll have weak feet and need cushy trainers. Run in minimalist shoes, your feet will grow stronger. The advantage is that minimalist shoes will more closely adapt to natural biomechanics rather than making your foot adapt to a bunch of gimmicky features and heel lifts.

    1. Mark

      You say “in my experience.” Good for you, but to me it sounds like the minimalist mantra: Minimalist shoes ARE GOOD for YOU, regardless of your age, running experience, biomechanics, etc. All you need is to take your time and you will adapt sooner or later. In my experience, and I run in many kinds of shoes, the adaptation: A) is limited by factors like genetics, mileage, posture, etc., and B) at some point you stop adapting and get injured. This is body self-defense mechanism. Adaptation gets you to some point and it’s not a never-ending story. For different people the adaptation stops at different cushioning point.

      Besides, shoes are just one of many other factors of adaptation and running experience. This mantra clearly ignores this fact.

      I got injured (achilles tendonitis) after few years of successful running in minimalist shoes. Adaptation period was way over. What happened was the result of overuse of minimalist shoes. I took me few months to recover. Now I mix my shoes and abandoned the faith in one perfect idea or a perfect pair of shoes.

      1. Lstomsl

        I had the same experience. Changing my form by running barefoot ( on an indoor track). Fixed my knee problems and allowed me to quadruple my mileage and run ultras but after 1 1/2 years I had Achilles problems. Now I switch between a variety of footwear with few problems. I know many others who have had similar experience.

        I expect to return to full minimalist over time though. I still believe its the way to go but it's silly to think that 1 or even 3 years is enough time to overcome the lifetime of damage that shoes have done to our feet. And I'll always be open to switching back at the first sign of Achilles issues, but the real issue is form.

      2. Allisa L

        Totally agree. A runner like Anton (and most Tarhumarans that I've seen pictures of) work hard to stay at a low BMI. Their kind of footwear works for them, but may not be healthy for a "Clydesdale" runner or an older runner. There is no silver bullet when it comes to footwear. Like Dakota was saying, specificity in matching the right shoe to the right terrain is important – but I would add the specificity in matching the right shoe to the right body type, biomechanics, etc. is also very important.

        1. Lstomsl

          I would say that it has more to do with the fact that Anton was a minimalist from a very young age so he never damaged his feet. Same goes with the Tarahumara, most of whom have never been in shoes. Those of us in the states who discover minimalist footwear in our middle years after our tendons, bones, and muscles have atrophied have a harder road.

          Nobody bothered to collect data 40 years ago when American runners began wearing "padded" shoes although there is anecdotal evidence that that is when running injuries became prevalent. Some of the Tarahumara are beginning to wear shoes to run in, it would be very interesting, albeit difficult, to see how that affects them.

          Also the fastest marathoners today come from countries where most kids still grow up shoeless. There should be opportunity to study the affects, but probably unlikely as the only parties with the ability to fund such a study ( shoe companies) have no interest in proving the uselessness of their products…..

    1. Digga

      Me too! I've got three pairs. One with 1500 miles, one with 800 and the pair I just got are freshies with only 25. My first pair won't die and still are my shoe of choice for races. I'm still buying the masochist first generation online for 50 bucks!!!! In fact I might just buy another pair today since I like to have a pair in the box.

  10. Digga

    Come to the Bay Area and visit the San Francisco running company n mill valley. Opened by two legends Brett rivers and Jorge maravilla. They will spend all day with you — treadmill in store — they have hand picked very shoe they sell. No bs.

  11. Sid H

    No love for Altra Lone Peak ? Not really a "speedster" shoe but puts together alot of the above "wants" , ie. low profile , protection , rock plate , wide toe box & nice firmer cushioning .

    I really am liking the shoe.

    1. dogrunner

      Too heavy, too stiff for me. I like the Superior better because nobody does toebox like Altra, but still not my favorite in my current arsenal.

  12. HONE (yea I had to c

    So has the definition of minimalism changed? I have not read the Born to Run book but it seems like “minimalism” now means wearing a flat or some kind of “barefoot” shoe. I always thought minimalism was not bothering yourself with extra luxuries or materialism that is unneeded. For example, are you still considered a “ minimalist runner” if you are also wearing a GPS, watch, hear rate monitor, arm sleeves, leg sleeves, ipods, or any of the other crap I see all over runners that claim to be “minimalist”?

    I am not saying I am a minimalist runner and I think the term is just plain cheesy.

    1. Nick J

      I agree. I am a minimalist runner and I am slowly removing the amount of crap that I need. My GPS broke – I haven't bought a new one. I don't own poles and I've taken up drinking water from streams, never tried on one of those sleeves. Now that we've got the sun back I'm usually in just a pair of shorts and no shirt and sometimes no socks. I rarely wear underpants, but I do have a buff.

      For shoes I'm rotating between zero drop Trail Gloves, Mix Masters, MT110 and the new Roclite 243.

      It's a real buzz to be next to "naked" on a hot sunny blue sky day in the mountains.

    1. Mike Behnke

      Agreed!! MT110's are the best ever shoe I have ever run in. I even have PR'd a

      road marathon in them. Your calves will scream for a little while but once used to them you feel like you can run like a gazelle effortlessly across the earth. I have tried Hokas but after several runs in them they cause all kinds of problems with my knees, hips, lower back, etc.; no doubt from the high platform. It's just too unnatural. It's like my feet are going all over the place inside them, trying to pound through all the foam looking for the ground.

      Nothing ever hurts with the MT 110's except metatarsal pain from ramping up miles too quickly.

  13. Joe

    So having a essential emergency gear is considered "overcompensation to the extreme"? This kind of confidence could get you in a lot trouble. Running with essential emergency gear is critical to every runner entering the wilderness and should not be ignored no matter how fast a runner you are. My guess is a space blanket would have gone a long ways to comfort Micah True in his last hours if not have given him a chance at survival. We are putting ourselves in a elevated risk situation and we should be prepared. Minimal shoes and minimal gear are two completely different things.

    1. the "other&quot

      Hey Joe, I think that you misunderstood what Dakota was really addressing. Just my two cents. I agree with being prepared for extreme circumstances and I am sure Dakota does as well (and is prepared for them). Happy Trails!

  14. Trygve

    I guess they don't fit all feet, and yes, they are a bit narrow. But for sub 3hour runs they are perfect. In very technical terrain no other shoe has given me as much confidence as the x-talons.

  15. J.Xander

    Does the TrailRoc have a rock plate? I am looking at the 255's. I really appreciate the wider forefoot. But I didn't know they had a rock plate.

    1. Ben Nephew

      Trailrocs have the metashank 3, but the protection is from the combination of the sole design and compounds and the shank. [broken link removed]

      The 255's have plenty of protection but are still flexible. You might also like the 313's, it is great all around shoe. Not as good on the loose stuff as the 255's, but faster on easy and even moderately easier terrain. Basically as fast as the trailroc 245's, but with enough protection and cushioning for at least 50 miles.

  16. Andrew Guitarte

    I trained in Vibrams for my first Ironman finish, then PRed in 3 road marathons while gunning for a BQ, before I took to the trails last year in Salomon Sense Ultras. Perfect progression for me shoe-wise. Stronger Achilles tendons built by my minimalist running form allows me to run hills and bomb downhills. I will only get better at this, year after year I'm sure. But that's just me, your typical mid-packer.

  17. mtnrunner2

    I don't race epic stuff like you "real" ultra folks — but to some extent — running is running. I do run high peaks, from dirt to talus and boulder-hopping.

    I've never been able to run well in overly-structured shoes, especially with big heels (they "clunk" on my feet), so I simply feel better in a less-structured shoe. Although minimalism can be fun, for daily use I've tended towards sturdy zero-drop shoes, i.e. Altra Lone Peaks.

    I also nearly broke a toe in the NB MT110, and though I still use them and love the ground feel while running in them, I don't when there are big rocks. My Altras, on the other hand, have a super-sturdy, protective toe box. For me that's non-negotiable.

    The one thing I don't really do on my leisurely runs is hammering downhills. I mean, not a lot. That's an area in which a more beefy shoe might be needed.

    And I do enjoy McDougall's book — a lot. Great stories and thought-provoking info. I think there's plenty to be learned from running so you don't hurt yourself. Experts seem to forget that not everyone is a gifted, perfect runner, and some may have to work incredibly hard to not get injured. That's where minimalism can teach us.

    1. the "other&quot

      Don't grade "epic" off of what anyone else is doing! Run and have fun. 'Nuff said! Find the races or challenges that you want to do and chase them. Run healthy and have an awesome 2013. : )

  18. Brian K

    Yeah, my 1010's fell apart quickly. I've been running in New Balances for almost ten years, but they've really let me down in the last year as far as uppers go (as well as lugs falling off the soles). They still make some of the most comfortable shoes on the planet. I love my M10's and 110's, but i've been increasingly switching to Innov-8 because the NB's have been falling apart well before their lifespan should be up.

  19. apace

    Yes to the toe bumper comment! I think I've broken a toe running NB110 or Inov8 X-Talons four times in the last two years. Honestly, if the X-Talon had a firm toe bumper, I'd be a much happier camper. Anything comparable anyone can suggest?

    1. Ben Nephew

      Talon 190 or 212? I'd be surprised if it was the 212, so that may be an option.

      trailroc 245 has more protection through the end of the sole, but the upper area of the toe bumper not that high.

      Mudclaw 265 and Roclite 243 are two other good options, with the Mudclaw offering the most protection.

  20. André Lambert

    Brooks PureFlow for fast asphalt

    Brooks PureGrit for scrambles

    but 90% of the time I am on my Hokas (Bondi B). 7 pairs down, 2 on the mail (Bondi B 2) which has more mesh and breathes better. Highly recommended.



  21. JoeDo

    I do almost all of my sub-2 hour training in my Vibrams….road, trails, very technical trails, and more recently, moving into creek-bed running / rock-hopping for more fun. Vibrams are just too much fun to not use all the time.

    However, when they get wet or when I have gone over 2 hours in them (only 3 times thus far), then the blisters come, and they came hard and deep….ouch!

    One day, hope to do a full 50K trail race in them, but for now, I run (delightfully) in my Pure Grits! Brilliant shoes and fairly minimal too.

  22. Sally

    I choose shoes by the way they feel. I can't know that from trying them on in a store though. I just have to try them for a while. This makes switching hard.

    Bright flashy colors can look nice, but let's face it, colors don't enhance performance, possibly just price. So I tend to like the bland performance shoe rather than the colorful shoe. But that is not to say that there aren't colorful performance shoes out there.

    What I have always looked for in a running shoe is minimum weight and maximum comfort.

    What would my perfect shoe look like? I don't know, but there are lots of examples of what it would not look like. Sorry, I can't go into that here. :)

  23. rob

    Mountain running has been "progressing" into the vertical and technical for 50 years and probably longer than that. Check out "A Night on the Ground, a Day in the Open" by Doug Robinson. Its fun to see the Dakota and folks having fun scrambling beyond trails; they are following in a rich history and huge footprints. In the 1970's, Charlie Fowler ran from Boulder to Eldo, soloed the Diving Board (700 foot overhanging 5.11 wall) in his running shoes and ran back to Boulder. Just a day in the hills.

  24. grandkonaslam

    No doubt that shoe selection is important. IMO, the right pair of aftermarket insoles should also be considered. Sometimes I wonder why manufacturers even bother with those flimsy pieces of foam…(yes, some factory insoles are better than others)

  25. Ben Nephew

    On the downhill comment, the roclite 243's might help with that. The gaps between the lugs in the talon sole are why the protection is not the greatest, and the roclite sole does not have gaps quite as large.

    I know for a fact that the trailroc 245's have better protection, and are also a 1 arrow midsole.

  26. Ben Nephew

    This is a great point. While in most long distance races the winners are able to wear the most minimal shoes, the opposite is often true with very technical events. I've been at many races where people have come up to me and said how awesome their 190's or 195's were. I ask them if their feet are OK, as there is no way I could have done that course in shoes that thin and kept my feet intact. The key difference is that they are going slower on the rocky downhills, so they don't need the protection that a faster runner would need. When people ask me for shoe advice, I can't always just base that advice off of what I would wear on that terrain.

  27. Ben Nephew

    If you lived in a New England location surrounded by technical trails, this would lead to the conclusion that you should just run on golf courses and soccer fields, or run at half-speed on the trails.

  28. Kev

    for me, show buying can be more painful than running in shoes that don't fit! I have like a 11 EE left foot and a 10/10 1/2 EEEE+ right foot depending on the brand. I tried using regular shoes when i first started running and either broke or tore something in my crippled (right) foot. after walking around pretty much barefoot, then moving to merrells and xero shoes for walking, i started to be able to run again. Altras seem to be the best fit for me, but it still isn't perfect since i have two different sized feet. Anyway, when looking int shoes….

    1:zero drop (not the most comfortable at times, but the best therapy for the bad foot) WIIIIIIIDE MIDFOOT+TOEBOX

    2: i don't like heavy built up shoes because if i really can wear them, they'll break down in about 100 miles. the more flexible they are to twist side-to-side, the more i'll like them.

  29. Kev

    whoops! i guess this has some keyboard shortcuts….

    3: wider midfoots. NB stuff is nice, but my wide midfoot doesn't fit properly in any of their minimus line shoes. (1010 is the closest, but to stiff with the rock plate) Altra is even slimming down the midfoot. the superiors i have aren't wide enough and i rubbed a hole in the flex-point of the right shoe. (i'm not the only one to have that problem)

    4: my perfect shoe would look like my feet. i'm almost thinking of going the russell moccasin route to try to solve a lot of my fit issues. That or make my own shoes…..

  30. Sage Canaday

    Great post!

    SCOTT t2 Kinabalu's. Forget about drop or offset when you have SCOTT eRide technology (PI would call it "dynamic offset" but that's another story altogether). It seems like many people get caught up with a a couple of millimeters of difference in "drop." I've seen a ton of very fast (ie sub 2:10 marathon) runners use very cushioned shoes with great form. I think one can learn good form in any shoe (or lack of shoe). Instead, look at the materials of the shoes, look at how your foot is shaped and film yourself running at different speeds. Know that in the latter stages of a hard race/workout your form will get worse and things like a heelstrike (totally what i do) will become more exaggerated. Work with your body rather than against it – know that even subtle changes in form take time and a neuromuscular "re-programming"). Sometimes with requires a wider variety in training and an outside perspective of what's going on with your body as you run.

    btw SCOTT will be coming out with a trail shoe version of the "Race Rocker" in 2014. The road version weighs about 6 ounces so we're going to try to keep it as close to that as possible with eRide techology, some AeroFoam and excellent traction. Can't wait!

    Train smart, race hard, and stay healthy!


    1. Lstomsl

      Pardon my skepticism, perhaps what you say is true, but it sounds a little to convenient that the company that allows you to be a professional athlete, the company for which you are paid to promote, also just happens to have THE BEST SHOE EVER….

      I agree that you CAN run with good form in cushioned shoes but anybody that runs sub 2:10 almost certainly had perfect form regardless of what they are wearing and while not 100% the probability is very high that anyone running sub 2:10 in recent years had not seen running shoes until forced into them by corporate sponsors.

      While its not as clear in the ultra-world we have great records for marathons and the conclusion can only be that shoes don't make a bit of difference. In fact Western runners haven't won many major marathons in e past 15 years despite the fact that winning times are not much different then they were 30 years ago when Americans were winning everything but before Nike invented "running" shoes. All that shoe technology has amounted to diddly squat in terms of Marathon performance.

      1. Mike

        For the sake of accuracy I don't see where Sage said the shoes were "the best". If you are going to question someone's integrity at least be accurate with your language.

        1. Lstomsl

          I never said I questioned Sage's integrity. If you are going to question my comment please at least be accurate with your language…..

  31. Daniel

    It seems like this topic has drawn a lot of attention so I will add my views through my own opinions and experience.

    I tried and tried to run in the NB 110's and many other low profile shoes such as the 110, but can't at least for the near future. For one I over pronate, and I have a short leg syndrome. My Right leg is a few cm longer than my left and until I get adjusted with some prolotherapy to hold the adjustment I have to wear custom Ortho's.

    So I have to find a neutral shoe that also allows me to swap out insoles. For now I'm really liking the Hoka One One Stinson Evo's and now I'm curious to see how I run in the NB 1210's (Leadville Series.) I'm going to the Running Store to try them on with my custom Ortho's in place and view my running on the TV today.

    My spin/advice for anyone out there…is don't buy a shoe based on looks, and who is wearing them. I did that and I have had more injuries than I like to comment on. Get your feet looked at by both a proper foot doctor to make sure your not flat footed, high arched or in between. Then he or she can let you know what type of shoe to get (Neutral/Motion Control/Minimal) and if you need a Custom or at least a good pair of over the counter Ortho's like Super Feet. I finally did just that, and now I can run properly as long as I get a Neutral/Mid Cushion Shoe that allows the inserts to be swapped ( NB 110 does not allow that for example.)

    From there head over to a proper running store like Boulder Run Company, Fleet Feet etc…and get in a pair of shoes based on what your Doctor told you and then let the people at the Running Store view your run pattern to make sure your not over or under pronating.

  32. astroyam

    Hi Ben. Yes, i have the TrailRoc 245s and they do deliver on downhills and racing, and are a great shoe. However they removed material under the arch in the contoured anatomical last. For me, this means I pronate a bit too much with these shoes, and i can feel my ankle dipping inwards, like in a soft shoe, even though it's firm, because there's no material under the arch. To the point where my inner shin gets sore on longer runs. Somehow the Talon 190 and F Lite 195 deliver perfect pronation control which is why I stick with those for training.

    1. Ben Nephew

      Thanks for the feedback. I haven't tried the 243's myself yet. However, I would prefer it if the tread blocks covered the entire sole. I would guess the 195's work because of the lack of big lugs, and the lugs on the 190's just compress to the point where they don't pose a problem for you. I'd rather have the lugs there for protection and traction.

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