Running Shoes and the Appeal of Barefoot Running

I wear size 13’s in an Asian country where 10’s are usually the largest size. So I wore my size 13 Saucony down to the last fiber of rubber and darn wore them out. I loved these shoes and dreaded wearing new ones to break in, but knew I could hurt myself if didn’t wear shoes.

So I got the top of the line Nike Air Max Trail Wind 4, the elite of the cushy, comfy, shoes delivered via a friend fresh from the states. I loved them even if my toes did not feel the street like my old babies did. I kept telling myself how much I loved them every day until one day I said, no I do not love them. Wanting to feel my toes gripping the street was my immediate emotion.

So I put on my old shoes and have been wearing these old lovers every day since. I know that any day the soles will have holes, and then what? I was thinking on purchasing one of the barefoot running shoes and ask myself, are these for me? I fear them as a 57 year old runner and the Nike and Adidas and Saucony days in my youth which is so pertinent in my past. Also shoes have gotten better and better throughout the years.
So the question is to get lighter shoes, my Nike’s as a compromise, or take the barefoot plunge. Please send your experiences. Ah the evolution of our favorite hobby.

4 thoughts on “Running Shoes and the Appeal of Barefoot Running

  1. I hesitated to reply, since the OP is May 2013, but I’m old too….so…I can only speak from my own limited experience of course, but I’ve found minimalist types of shoes do not work for me personally. Even the Saucony Kinvara 4, which I loved, I’ve had to set aside for all but short-distance interval workouts. My legs are simply too tired after as little as 5 or 6 miles, beyond which I know I’m risking injury due to form compensation as a result of leg fatigue. The same distance in any of my Newtons (primarily Distance S and Isaac models although I have others) seems to have much less negative affect. I was all about heading the other way; toward a more minimalist style, but recognize, that I simply can’t do that. I’m only 68 but have come to realize I can’t improve my form enough to compensate for the pounding I get from the concrete sidewalks and asphalt trails I typically run on. I average around 100 miles/month normally, and am convinced that cushioning is not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve heard some awfully good things about some of the latest Hokas to the point that I ordered two pairs today to see if I can deal with the cushioning. I ordered the One One Cliftons and the One One Huaka. I was concerned about the 5mm difference heel to forefoot on the Cliftons, so I order he Huaka’s for a comparison. I may not like either, but I do know, at least for me, the right kind of cushioning can help and that I’ll not be a barefoot runner except at the beach!

    • Hi Bob

      I am about to come out with a newsletter which talks about how us seniors compensate for our physical losses from experience and trial and error as we are all different animals. Your Training routine is impressive.

      • Hi Bruce,

        Thanks and the newsletter sounds very interesting. I’m struggling a little in accepting my physical losses and look forward to the newsletter!


  2. Hi Bruce,
    greetings to Baguio – I have been there last year, but must admit I did not find the place very attractive, understanding very well that because of this awfull traffic you run early in the morning (as I used to do, heading up to Montmartre/Sacre Coeur – Paris – between 5 and 6 am). Hope you do not live in the very “center” at the bottom.
    But let’s come to the point: “the right” shoes. I am 57 now, running again for 2 months after several years of interruption due to typical run impeding injuries: 1) spondiolisthesis (first attack at age 13) and 2) achillotendinitis (first attack at age 18, recently due to too much early morning uphill running ;-)).
    I think you can say I am kind of fragile (and apparently you are not) and unfortunately recommendations for saving achilles tendons on one hand and lower spines on the other are contradictory. Nevertheless I am afraid everybody will experience some wear and tear in their older age. And that’s why protective running shoes might be important if you want to run until you are 100 or over.
    To accommodate my back, I bought some classical well cushionned shoes (Asics Nimbus) – and did not like them at all – too mushy (and my orthopedist was not enthousisastic about too soft shoes neither, actually they did not help the achilles tendons).
    Then I ordered myself a pair of Hoka One One Conquest – and love them (I swear I have no connection to this company!!!). They ARE cushionned, even “ultra-cushionned”, but never give the impression of spongy “sinking in”, I still feel exactly the moment I touch the road. Sure, you should like the “rocker” movement, for which these shoes have been designed.

    Have some good runs – the Philippines are a great place!


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