If you’re wanting to transition to minimal running shoes, you’re probably also concerned with your running form. In either case, you’re here in the right place. I’m Jesse Funk, and on today’s episode of Runner’s High, I’m going to give you a very simple method to transition from traditional running shoes to minimal running shoes.
If you’ve been running for a while or were simply aware of the running scene at the time, you may remember back in 2009, the book, Born to Run came out. Really at that time, that’s when minimal running shoes exploded. And over the next five to six years, they really kind of hit their peak and have declined since then. Now, if you’ve watched my other running shoe videos, you know that I spent three years of my life working full-time fitting shoes for people, both runners and people with medical conditions.
So, we saw a lot of people coming in during that time when minimal shoes was huge. That was the time that I was working. So, I have some experience with fitting people for minimal shoes and kind of helping that transition from one to the other.
We saw a lot of people that really didn’t belong in minimal shoes. And this kind of goes without saying, but there are a lot of caveats involved with this. A lot of people thought minimal shoes are the answer to all their problems.
Well, surprise, surprise, they simply aren’t. But they are useful in a certain capacity. And that’s especially true as I mentioned the beginning of this video if you’re concerned about your running form. So, I want to give you a simple method to go from one to the other. It’s important to know that running shoes in the minimal variety kind of come in two camps I would call them. These aren’t official camps but that’s what I would refer to them as. You have minimal shoes with padding, which is similar to what I’ve been wearing for the longest time.
I was wearing these, the Nike Lunar Epics with a four-millimeter stack height and now I’m wearing these, the New Balance beacon, as a six-millimeter stack height, they discontinued these bad boys and so I had to find something else. So, you have minimal shoes in terms of stack height, but also have padding.
And then you have minimal shoes with nothing on them and those are going to be like Vibrams. I had some. They seem to have gotten away from me. So, unfortunately, I can’t show you those. But I’m sure you’ve seen the Vibram FiveFingers, those foot sock toe look and shoes, those are kind of minimal shoes with zero paddings on them.
So, the basic method that you want to do is to take a step down or a stair-step pattern to transition from your traditional shoe all the way to your minimal shoe. Now, some people can get away with going from one straight to the other. Those people tend to be in better shape, younger, and a lot more flexible. But that doesn’t mean that if you don’t fall into that category, that you can’t get away with it. It also doesn’t mean if you are in that category that you won’t have problems.
So, the easiest way to do it is to take a stair-step pattern. So, what that means is during your normal transition of shoes, and I talked about this another video, but that three to 500-mile range when you’re going to change your shoes, normally you take a step down.
So, if you’re in a traditional shoe, which is roughly 12 millimeters of stack height, then you step down to a shoe that still has padding, and is somewhere between eight and 10 millimeters of stack height. And then when you’re training out of that shoe over three to 500 miles, you move down to the next one, four to six millimeters stack height, still has padding.
And then the last transition, if you want to make it is either to a padded shoe with zero millimeters. It’s gonna be very tough to find, those kinds of things are closer to racing flats, and then racing flats are often four millimeters. Or you can go from that padded shoe down to like a four-millimeter minimal shoe that has very little padding in it.
How long is this going to take you is entirely dependent on how many miles you’re putting in. But when I’m making a general recommendation for you, that’s going to work for you, and other runners, then I’m basing it on mileage because mileage is a good gauge of fitness and potentially your body’s ability to adapt to new environments over time.
So, if you’re running more miles you tend to be more fit, and you tend to be able to adapt to new things more quickly. At least that’s my experience in running and writing running schedules for people. So, using mileage as a base and saying, when you change shoes, that’s a natural point to change over, that’s why I make that recommendation.
The big thing here to remember is that we’re making this gradual step down because there are adjustments in your biomechanics that you have to make. That’s kind of the point of moving to a minimal running shoe is to improve your biomechanics and be able to run more efficiently. One of the most crucial parts here is that your Achilles tendon is going to be in a more elongated position, the lower that stack height is as you get down more and more minimal shoes.
So, you need to allow the time for your Achilles tendon to get slightly stretched out, not really stretched out because you don’t want to sprain it, and not put too much stress on it. So, if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m talking about stack height. Here, shortly on the screen, there’ll be a video coming up where I cover that, what that is, what you need to be looking out for. So, if you want to see other videos, as always, hit that subscribe button in the bottom right-hand corner, and I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.