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Ask Jason: Part Two

Posted by on Dec 7, 2011 | 76 Comments

I finally should have enough time to tackle this, so here we go!  Ask me a question in the comments section, and I will answer it to the best of my abilities!

It may take awhile, so I will go from the earliest submitted.

Have fun!

 

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76 Comments

  1. joohneschuh
    December 16, 2011

    Hi Jason, I hope this post is still active. Here´s my question: How much do you run barefoot lately?

    • Jason
      December 16, 2011

      I probably run about 25% of my total mileage barefoot- basically anything that isn’t a remote mountain trail here in the Southwest US. Shelly and I do an occasional road run, which is about the only condition that’s barefoot-friendly. We did run on a gravel road through a mountain pass in AZ recently, which we may attempt more often.

      It can be difficult to balance the desire to run barefoot with the practicality of training for 100 milers (and a general disdain for road running.) :-)

  2. Aaron
    December 10, 2011

    Jason,

    Do you know if Merrell will be a sponsor of the Naked Foot 5k in 2012? If not will you, Shelly and the kids still be involved?

    Gracia y paz,

    Aaron

    • Jason
      December 16, 2011

      Aaron,

      I do not think Merrell is sponsoring the Naked Foot series in 2012. Shelly and I will attempt to attend as many as possible, but it will depend on our race/clinic schedule. We have A VERY rough outline right now, and should be publishing it in a week or two.

  3. Jeff
    December 10, 2011

    Compared to non-minimalist shoes, my feet sweat quite a bit more while wearing minimalist shoes (or at least that’s how it feels). Am I alone here?

    One of the things that attracted me to the Merrell Trail Glove is that in addition to good running, it’s also the sort of shoe I can wear to the office without looking out of place. But I just can’t wear it while sitting/walking around for 8 hours without my feet getting soaked.

    I’ve tried different socks… drymax socks are worse than socks at all. Cotton socks seem to be my best option, but I still feel the need to remove the shoes at every opportunity.

    Are there other shoes with better ventilation? Are my feet just weird? Am I the only one who wants to wear minimalist shoes during the hours that I’m not running?

    • Jason
      December 16, 2011

      Jeff, I never considered this. I’ve noticed my feet stay warm in freezing weather when wearing minimalist shoes, but I didn’t think about the application in warm weather. I rarely wear shoes if temps are warm enough. When I worked as a high school teacher, I would often remove my shoes once class began.

      Ventilation really is the key. Merrell is releasing some shoes that may be more ventilated than the TG this spring. I should be reviewing them in the near future.

  4. Rob
    December 9, 2011

    I wonder what your take is on long time, long distance ultrarunners and the tendency to develop heel spurs (probably what really is the cause of all the reported PF issues out there, myself included). I’ve been running for over 20 years and the last 6-7 years of which w/o any arch support and in mostly low profile, minimal heel-to-toe drop shoes and average ~3000 miles/year.

    Shoe wear indicates that I’ve successfully transitioned from being a heel striker to much more midfoot. I’ve had reoccuring PF flare-ups from time to time forever now, mostly in my right foot. Fast forward to this past July when I sustained a stress fracture to my right heel, actually broke the heel spur right off! (it’s still technically “floating” in there!) The injury itself wasn’t running related (blunt force trauma from a fall) however the heel spurs were!

    We’re coming to the million dollar question shortly. I’m told that heel spurs develop from years and years of running w/o arch support. Basically your PF is continually pulling on the insertion point in your calcaneus (heel bone) as it flexes excessively. It flexes excessively because there is no support in your shoe to keep it from doing so. Your PF actually has to work even harder when your calf/Achilles muscles are tight as well. Anyhow, this pulling causes microfractures in the insertion point; they continually fracture and heal, fracture and heal with the net result being this bone deformity being created. An elongation of bone at the insertion point i.e. heel spur!

    So for the relatively long time, high mileage runner do you really think running w/o arch support is a good idea? How can a barefoot/minimalist runner hope to prevent heel spurs w/o any support? The end game is that those heel spurs are a weak point and will eventually break like mine did! Are we all kidding ourselves that the pure minimalist approach is the most healthy? While I’d agree that for the hobby jogger that heel spurs and other issues probably are a small concern since their lifetime mileage would be very small.

    Anyhow, for me, while I appreciate the goals and direction of the ultra minimalist runners I think I’m going to take a hybrid approach; basically keep up the minimal shoe drop but keep with my arch supports and low profile but cushioned shoes! I can see no other long term solution.

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      This question perfectly exemplifies so many issues in running- we simply don’t know.

      Logic dictates that the arch is a load-bearing mechanism which should not be supported. Our feet wouldn’t have evolved with a weakness like that… it would have severely limited hominid running ability which would have thwarted survival.

      Some in the medical community contend our feet are weak and need support, motion control, etc. I don’t buy it.

      HOWEVER, neither my opinion nor their opinion is supported by a large body of empirical research (I’ve searched- there’s nothing of substance in the literature.) In the absence of research, we have to rely on self-experimentation.

      Based on your problem, an alternative hypothesis could be that your intrinsic foot muscles and associated tendons were chronically weakened from the days of running in traditional shoes, which limited their ability to assist the distribution of force on the PF, which then caused more stress on the insertion point. Not that my crack-pot theory is correct, but there’s always alternative explanations for injuries than those offered from one or two medical professionals.

      I’ve been running ultras for about seven years either barefoot or in minimalist shoes that have zero support. I have no PF or hell spur symptoms. That does nothing for you, though. :-)

      Based on the anecdotal evidence from those that I know, I like to to think of any sort of support as a solution to immobilize a body part to allow it to heal. Once healed, remove the support and go through a ‘rehab’ phase. Once sufficiently strengthened, normal activity can be resumed.

      It still doesn’t adequately answer your question, but that’s okay. Running gait is infinitely complex and research has just begun to figure it out. Hell, there’s still a ton of people that think it’s perfectly natural to land on an overstrided heel! ;-)

      • Rob
        December 12, 2011

        Thanks Jason. Like I said, the injury itself had nothing to do with running, but all the same it got me thinking about “why” I have a heel spur to begin with.

        I will say that since I’ve broken that bone spur right off, I haven’t had any PF discomfort in months! :) Sort of a radical way to “cure” heel spurs but it seems to be working thus far.

        I understand what you say about “evolution” and why we “should” be able to run w/o support etc… but it’s also very difficult to erase 20+ years of wearing raised heels bad form. Won’t happen overnight and for some folks it probably won’t ever happen! The “evolution” argument, to me, would only apply for those of us lucky enough or had the foresight enough to start running barefoot or ultraminimally from birth and on into adulthood. I’d argue there is far less we can do starting as adults and perhaps the risks of transition (even slow transition) may outweigh the benefits. Just peruse the various forums about reported TMTS injuries…

        I’d argue that instead of trying to go “whole hog” that a hybrid compromise is probably more attainable and healthy for us adults. I think there is a happy medium there that would benefit most of us in a safer manner. I’m thinking low drop shoes with adequate cushioning for most occasions. A focus on improving form and doing perhaps a few short sessions a week ultraminimally or barefoot for strengthening purposes.

        Anyhow, thanks for your insightful blog. While I don’t agree with everything you say, you make good and valid arguments that get me to think about things in different ways. I think my “world experience” is quite different than yours but there are many similarities.

  5. jracecar
    December 9, 2011

    1) I have been running BF/Minimalist for about 18 months. I still have recurring achilles tendonitis in my left and plantar fasciitis in my right. I assume my form is uneven, but I cannot figure out exactly how. Can you give me any suggestions?

    2) Can you tell me if you know anything about shoes in development that have grip similar to the Inov-8 Baregrip 200, but with a wide toebox?

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Both conditions can occur if you don’t allow your heel to touch the ground. Could that be an issue/

      As far as BG200 replacements- I don’t know of any. I think Inov-8 is working on a different last, which would make the BG200s MUCH better. I’ll post anything I find.

      • jracecar
        December 11, 2011

        Honestly, yes, it appears as though my issue was a reluctance to let my heels touch down. I really thought I had been allowing my heels to touch completely, but today I focused a little harder and it made all the difference. That is really something. Thank you.

  6. Mel Sole
    December 9, 2011

    Hi Jason,

    Hope you can help me with a question that most barefoot runners cannot seem to answer to my satisfaction.

    I have really high arches and in my early stages of running (6 years ago) I developed plantar faceitis so now I wear rigid arch supports and since then I have not had a problem. I wish to transition to running with barefoot shoes but am concerned that the plantar faceitis will return. Do you have any experience with this and do you have any reccommendations for me?

    Thanks.

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Mel- I had PF before starting barefoot running. As the theory goes, the arch is strengthened when given a workload. Supporting the arch only weakens the attached anatomy, which worsens PF. My non-medical recommendation- rest until pain goes away, then slowly start running barefoot to strengthen the feet.

      As far as treating the PF, I had a lot of success rolling a plastic soda bottle filled with frozen water underfoot.

  7. David
    December 9, 2011

    Any thoughts on the Lone Peak by Altra? It’s zero drop but too heavy to be considered BFS?

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      David, I’m working on getting a pair to review right now. Stay tuned!

  8. Mark
    December 8, 2011

    Jason,

    if you could pick a shoe that was “jack of all trades,” what would it be?

    I currently love running in my trail gloves on well… trails. I want to start adding some road running to my runs. How does the trail glove perform on roads?

    It is almost time for a new shoe and I don’t want to buy 2 or 3 for trails/roads/whatever because I don’t have that kind of money. So, what say you?

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Mark- this is tough. For my purposes, the Trail GLove serves 99% of my running purposes. I don’t like it for roads, but I don’t do much road running.

      If I had to pick a shoe for ALL conditions, the Road Glove would likely win. It’s at home on roads, can be used for trails, is a very good crosstraining shoe, and would be a good casual shoe. The NB Zero Road is lighter but probably not as durable, but could also do fairly well as a ‘do everything’ shoe. I haven’t tried it, but I understand the VivoBarefoot Neo is a pretty good all-purpose shoe, too.

      • Farley
        December 10, 2011

        Have you had a chance to try the Neo Trail? I just ordered a pair as I think they will be good for winter trail running but only time will tell.
        -Farley

  9. Eli
    December 8, 2011

    what has been your favorite race and do you think you could hook up a 14 year old barefoot ultrarunner with a Merrel Sponsorship

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Eli- probably Western States… it went well and was a blast!

      As far as sponsorship, I don’t actually work for Merrell. I just do contract work. I’d suggest contacting their marketing team.

  10. Paul Wallis
    December 8, 2011

    Would you ever consider coming to Canada, more specifically the Ontario, Toronto area? Also where can I download your free ebook? Is it still ok for me to share the ebook copy with my running friends?

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Paul- we’d like to head up to Canada in the spring or summer, but the plans are still tentative. I don’t host the ebook anymore, but it shouldn’t be hard to find someone that will share it. ;-) And yes, it’s okay to share with friends.

      • Paul Wallis
        December 9, 2011

        Thank you for your response. I’m sorry I keep asking if it’s ok to share your book. I just cannot believe that you allow people to give away such a valuable resource!

        • Jason
          December 9, 2011

          Paul- the goal has always been about teaching. Unfortunately, the next version was bought by a publisher. It will be better, but I will no longer have any control over distribution.

  11. Fred
    December 8, 2011

    Hey Jason,

    I’ve a quick question and some feedback. I often hear of trails described as “technical”. Can you offer some insight as to what qualifies a trail as technical?

    You often write about your experience with the team at Merrell. I’d like to add my voice to yours.

    I’m running in TGs–my first minimalist shoes. After about 350 miles I’ve worn a hole in the sole of the left shoe. This seemed to me to be inappropriate at this level of mileage so I posted on the issue, with a picture of the shoe, on the Merrell Facebook page. Within a week I got a response from Merrell indicating that the RD team wanted a look at my shoes to explore a sole material quality issue. In exchange they are replacing my shoes with a new pair. THIS, is the way to handle a customer concern.

    Merrell’s reaction to my problem likely saved a customer and turned me into an advocate for the brand. As I’m a marketing guy, this means more to me than to most.

    Congratulations on your affiliation with the Merrell brand. It enhances your brand as well as furthers the minimalist movement.

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Fred, this is one of the reasons I choose to work with Merrell. They’re a first-rate company that treats customers like family.

      As far as what I consider ‘technical”, here are some guidelines:

      -non-technical: You can easily push a baby stroller over the trail.

      – Minimally-technical: There may be a few roots or rocks, but it’s very easy to find a flat, debris free spot for your foot to land.

      -Technical: There are a lot of roots and rocks, but a skilled trail runner could still run slowly barefoot.

      -Very technical: The density of sharp rocks is so great it’s almost impossible to avoid them with each step. This terrain is impossible barefoot. Most of these are mountain trails.

      -Gnarly: Most minimal shoes would be inadequate. These trails are usually littered with rocks that will easily slice shoes. This stuff is usually found in back country mountains.

  12. Alan
    December 8, 2011

    Jason, can you encourage those of us that need to wear dress shoes to work, that someone is working on a zero drop, minimalist shoe suitable to wear to the office? Most of the time, I can get away wearing my Patagonia Loulu. I keep hoping that Merrell or some manufacturer is working on this. Vivobarefoot looks like they might have an option, but it usually seems to be sold out. There must be a market! I just wish I could wear my KSOs to the office. Do you know if anyone is actively working on this? Thanks.

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Alan- unfortunately I do not. Vivo has the widest selection thus far, and Merrell has the Tough Glove. I keep trying to encourage various companies to work on some minimalist dress shoes, but nobody has bitten thus far. I agree, there is a need.

    • Erik
      December 10, 2011

      Alan, the Patagonia Advocate might not be a bad option. It’s definitely zero-drop with good ground-feel. Whether it fits your style would be the only question.

  13. Richard
    December 8, 2011

    My progression barefoot has been slow as suggested, up to a point. I found that once I was running 5-6 miles 3 or 4 times a week I did not need to ramp up to half marathon distance. My feet felt the same at HM distance as they have on shorter runs. Do you think it would be possible to make the jump to marathon distance also or how much barefooting do I need to do to run marathon distance?

    • Jason
      December 9, 2011

      Richard, you’re probably past the point of having to exercise excessive caution. Once you get to the point of running HM distances, anything’s possible. ;-)

  14. Eric Cooper
    December 8, 2011

    What’s new in the upcoming edition of your book?

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      It was picked up by Plume, a part of the Penguin Group. It is reorganized to make it easier to follow, includes new sections on racing and minimalist shoes, pics for the workouts, reorganization of the transition plan, and the elimination of some excess materials. On top of that, the language has been tightened (i.e.- lots of pro editors.)

      It’s nothing revolutionary, but the publisher will be able to get it in places I couldn’t distribute.

  15. Roxana
    December 8, 2011

    Hi Jason,

    I know it’s not really related to running barefoot, but I wanted to ask you if you had any recommendations in terms of good websites and/or books about nutrition for runners.

    Thanks,
    Roxana

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Roxana,

      I’m a firm believer in simple diets- eat when you’re hungry, stop a few bites before feeling full. Eat a variety of different foods from the perimeter of the grocery store (avoid the highly processed foods found in the middle aisles.) Eat foods of different colors (good indicator of variety.) Experiment with different foods before, during, and after runs. Repeat what seems to help, stop what doesn’t.

      People get too caught up in one particular diet plan or system. Humans can survive on a huge range of different foods… take advantage of it! ;-)

  16. Aaron
    December 8, 2011

    I recently purchased a pair of TGs. I have worn them around the house for up to an hour at a time over the last ten days, but find the snugness at the front of the arch (right behind the balls of the feet) leaves my feet aching for a good minute, to use an Atlanta colloquialism. So, it lasts roughly three hours. Besides this one factor, I really like this model.
    It has been suggested to me that the shoe will break-in and that won’t be an issue. In your opinion is that the case, or is it more likely that my foot will conform to the shoe? I suppose a third alternative is a little of both.

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      All shoes will break down and conform to the shape of the foot to a degree with use. Fifty miles seems to be about the point where this happens for most people/shoes. If the shoes continue to bother you at that point, it may be a good idea to try a different model or brand. Different shoes will fit different foot shapes. The trick is to find one that works for your particular foot.

      • Aaron
        December 8, 2011

        Man, you are on top of it today Jason! Thanks for the input. I appreciate it.

        • Jason
          December 8, 2011

          I have a little free time. :-)

    • Aaron
      December 8, 2011

      It might be worth it to add that I am seriously considering going the route of exclusively moving into Luna Sandals and Softstars. However, I want to build up to serious trail running and ultras (I know it can be done in Lunas and Softstars.) and understand that has a tool the TGs could be valuable.

      • Jason
        December 8, 2011

        It really depends on the ultra. I’ve run ultras barefoot, in aqua socks, VFF KSOs, InvisibleShoe huaraches, and Trail Gloves. All had advantages and disadvantages. Trail Gloves are my current favorites for most conditions, but I wouldn’t use them for an ultra with a lot of roads or VERY technical back-country mountain terrain.

        Training on the terrain you plan to race in a variety of shoes will allow you to figure out which shoes will work well for that particular race.

        • Aaron
          December 8, 2011

          Out of curiosity what tool would you use on “VERY technical back-country mountain terrain?”

          • Jason
            December 8, 2011

            Right now- nothing. The ideal would be a Trail Glove with a true rock plate. I’m going to experiment with the New Balance MT110, but the fit isn’t great. I’m actually trying them out on a mountain trail today.

  17. Ben S
    December 8, 2011

    When will the Vibram SeeYa and Spyridon reviews come out? BTW – I agree with your comments on winter running. I sometimes wear VFF KSOs on snow and ice. It’s great for developing skill.

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Ben- I only have the SeeYa. That review should be up in about a week.

  18. Erik
    December 8, 2011

    Hey Jason, do you have any thoughts about mid-foot striking versus forefoot striking? I tried a mid-foot strike when I had a little TOFP. It seemed to help. Now I mid-foot strike once in a while towards the end of a run when I start to feel tired.

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Based on my experiences, the part of the foot that touches the ground first isn’t as important as all of the foot touching the ground at some point. People run into trouble when they try to keep their heel off the ground artificially (i.e.- running on their toes.) It’s okay when sprinting, but otherwise should be avoided. It adds tremendous stress to the metatarsals and Achilles/soleus.

  19. David Sutherland
    December 8, 2011

    Your RV adventures has clearly been an enlightening experience for you, but do you expect at some point to settle down in one town again? Or perhaps do a year here in one place, and then back to the road? Or do you prefer not to think/worry too far ahead, and just deal with today? Do you ever worry about retirement?

    As a salaried suburban middle class family man (though one with weird shoes), I find your life choices interesting and alien at the same time. I am torn between feeling jealous one day, and voyeuristic (in a car-crash rubber-necker way) the next. Best of luck though!

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      David, yes, it has been enlightening. At the same time, it’s not that different than our previous life as salaried suburbanites. We still have a daily routine, we still have “work” time, our kids still annoy us on occasion. The biggest difference is we get to run in some amazing places and meet tons of super cool people all over the country (and to a degree- the world.) It has taught us many lessons, the best of which is that we’re infinitely adaptable and can make due with far less than we would have thought prior to this adventure.

      As far as future plans, we will settle down at some point. We’ll still probably be semi-nomadic and move around seasonally or every few years. Part of our present journey involves scouting potential areas to settle down. We’ve found areas we love; we’ve found areas we hate. For example, we LOVE the mountains and are pretty keen on the desert. Flat, cold areas… not so much.

      As far as retirement- we have retirement provisions. Having said that, I like Tim Ferriss’ take on retirement. We deny ourselves adventure through our most physically-capable years in order to experience a period of inactivity at a time of our life when health and mobility are greatly diminished.

      We spend a lot of time in campgrounds surrounded by retirees. Their inability to fully enjoy their hard work helps reinforce our decision.

      • JVK
        December 8, 2011

        Great answer to the retirement question!!

        • Jason
          December 8, 2011

          Thanks! I see a lot of people trudging through life, hating their job, basically counting down the years to retirement. I used to be there. It’s not fun.

          It’s entirely possible to life a life that excites you while still making reasonable contingency plans. If I remember right, Ferriss talks about the idea that retirement planning should be a contingency plan. How many people lost most of their retirement savings in the market crash a few years back? I bet they wished they’d lived it up a bit in their youth. ;-)

  20. Eric Cooper
    December 8, 2011

    Jason, Do you tell people they are doing it wrong when you see them up on the balls of their feet and not letting the heel touch? If so, what do you say? Who started that myth. Why does it persist?

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Yes, I do… if they’re asking for advice. It’s one of the few “universals” of good form. Ken Bob, BF Ted, Chi, Pose, Evolution, Good Form, Lieberman, etc. all agree that the heel should touch to unload the Achilles/soleus.

      It’s worth noting- heel touch is a function of pace. Sprinters don’t allow their heels to touch. The slower you go, the more your heel will contact the ground during the gait cycle. It’s almost impossible to tell people how much heel tough is appropriate. It’s best to do what feels natural.

      As far as who started the myth- not sure, but there’s one particular barefoot practitioner that routinely instructed runners to “run on their toes.” I think that statement is part of the problem, even if they didn’t literally mean for runners to run on their toes.

      • Eric Cooper
        December 8, 2011

        Thank you. Rock on.

  21. Venkat
    December 8, 2011

    Question –
    To run longer and faster – some say glow slower – espcially Dr. Phil Maffetone and Joe Friel – what is your take on the whole heart rate based training?

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Anecdotal evidence suggests it’s very effective. I understand there’s also some good research backing it up.

      From my own personal experimentation, it just makes me slower. And it’s not fun. I do a fair share of slow running mixed with faster running. Most of my training runs end up being hybrid Fartleks.

      I say give it a shot. At the very least, it teaches you to monitor your vitals via biofeedback.

  22. Jeff
    December 7, 2011

    From reading several of your reviews, I’ve learned that you dislike wearing socks with minimalist shoes. Could you explain in greater detail why this is?

    I find socks to be an important part of dressing for the weather. Minimalist shoes that I’ve used tend not to keep my feet warm in the cold, and for me socks are essential to make up the difference.

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      I don’t like the slipping that occurs when wearing socks. This mostly pertains to steep mountain trails. Going sockless gives an added sense of control.

      In cold weather, my feet don’t get cold as long as i keep moving due to increased circulation. This isn’t universal. Socks can be important in cold weather. The also provide a degree of protection against friction on seams inside shoes. As of today, there are VERY few shoes that have well-designed sockless liners.

      When choosing to wear socks, make sure the shoe is big enough to accommodate the added girth.

  23. Mike M.
    December 7, 2011

    I am looking for a good minimalist shoe to use during the winter in Minneapolis. I plan on running mostly along sidewalks in neighborhoods which aren’t always cleared effectively so that there is often snow and/or ice. I have heard that running in a trail shoe can be good for winter running because the more aggressive tread provides for good traction in snow and often on ice as well.

    I would consider the Merrell Trail Glove, but I fear the mesh upper might be too cold in our winters (since it can easily get down below zero, particularly in December, January, and February). I know the True Glove or the Sonic Glove might be a good option because of the more substantial upper. I could also go with the Embark Glove (Gortex), but I think that might be overkill (plus it would make the sure completely useless during the summer if I want to try trailing running at all).

    Finally, I know New Balance just came out with the Minimus Trail, so I don’t really know where it fits in.

    Anyway, to sum up… what is a good minimalist shoe that I can use (a) as a winter road running shoe (taking into account the weather here) and (b) as a summer trail shoe (if I decide to do more trail running, which has never really been in my repertoire)

    • Jeff
      December 7, 2011

      I would be most interested in this one too. My challenge is that (paved) paths in my area are often in good shape, but then there are sudden patches of ice (usually on hills). It seems that any shoe that does well on pavement sucks on ice, and vice versa.

      I own a pair Merrell Embarks. They’re more rigid than many other shoes, but I wanted to the goretex. I think they perform best in slushy weather – in the 30s, where snow is melting, and you may run through some very cold puddles. They’re quite slippery when on ice, but decent in snow. Coldest run I’ve gone on with them was about 5F, and with thin socks, my feet stayed plenty warm.

      I’d consider building a pair of screw shoes, but minimalist shoes being so thin, I’m afraid the screws would poke into my feet.

      • Jason
        December 8, 2011

        First, the best shoe is a shoe that fits your foot in a way that doesn’t interfere with your form. For warmth, many people find that the natural movement of the foot within the shoe stimulates circulation which keeps the foot warm. For others, a good pair of socks does the trick. If you choose socks, make sure the shoes are big enough to accommodate the added girth.

        In regards to traction, good form usually negates the need for added traction. If your feet are landing under your center of gravity, there’s little chance of slipping. I’ve run through Michigan winters for years in all types of minimalist shoes and have never fallen.

      • Mike M.
        December 9, 2011

        Jeff, thanks for the feedback on the Embarks. I was already pretty sure I wouldn’t get them, because they would be pretty much useless the rest of the year (unless I wanted my feet to bake). I would like a shoe that I can also use in the summer for trail running. I think I’ll just have to go to a store and check out the Trail Glove and the Pace Glove and see which I like more.

    • Ben S
      December 8, 2011

      Not speaking for Jason, but in conditions like you and Mike describe I’m using Altra Instincts with ICEtrekkers. While not minimalist, they are a zero-drop solution. The sole is just thick enough to prevent feeling the diamond metal bits that grip the ice. Yaktrax compress my toes too much. In deeper snow I use Merrell trail gloves with wool socks. I like the low cut heel and it helps prevent snow from getting into my shoe.

      • Sarah AJ
        December 8, 2011

        I got my Merrell Pace Gloves early last February and wore them for the rest of the winter here in Wisconsin. With wool socks they were fine into the single digits, below zero with the wind chil (and I’m *always* cold), and I never even bothered to get out my YakTrax that I’d used previous winters. Even on icy spots, they were fine. I’m not sure if it was a matter of form change or the traction of the Pace Gloves themselves.

        • Mike M.
          December 9, 2011

          Thanks Sarah! I think I’m leaning toward the Trail Glove (I think that’s the men’s equivalent of the Pace Glove) or the Sonic Glove. It’s nice to hear that you were warm enough in Wisconsin in the Pace Gloves. I’m still wary of the mesh (although I’ve done some fairly cold weather runs in Vivobarefoot Evos, which are mesh as well).

    • McKay
      December 8, 2011

      I like my pair of VivoBarefoot Neo Trails. They are mostly waterproof (making them great for winter) and they have 5mm lugs over a 3mm zero-drop sole, which means you won’t be slipping much. They keep your feet nice and toasty. However, they are even less road-friendly than the Merrells or New Balance, which means they aren’t a solution for patches black ice on the road. But they’re great for thick snow and ice and off-roading.

  24. Seamus B
    December 7, 2011

    What is the meaning of life?

    • Kittyk
      December 7, 2011

      You stole my question, although I was just going to put
      “WHY?”

      Same principle.

    • Paul M
      December 8, 2011

      42

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      Help others in a way that excites you. ;-)

  25. Chris
    December 7, 2011

    I’m just getting into barefoot and running with VFF. I am now much more aware of my form walking around the house barefoot and I feel like I’m clomping around. When running, it is easier to plant first on my forefoot just under my slightly forward body. But walking on my forefoot is really unnatural, especially since my body position is more straight up and down. It feels more natural to to heelstrike when walking but that doesn’t feel right either. Any suggestions or am I overthinking this?

    • Erik
      December 8, 2011

      Chris, you should check out Daniel Lieberman’s stuff on this. Walking and running are two completely different gaits. I’ve been walking barefoot for over thirty years. It’s definitely a heel-strike, although I switch to a forefoot strike when the terrain gets pointy.

      • Jason
        December 8, 2011

        Chris, I agree with Erik. Running and walking gait are very different. The impact forces associated with walking are a fraction of those produced when running. When walking, I land on my heel about 80% of the time. I’ve done it for years without problem.

  26. John M
    December 7, 2011

    Hey, Jason. I have been running completely barefoot for 6 months now. Up to about 6 miles. Never ran before this. I love it. But with wet and cold weather I have learned the hard way that there are occassions to wear something. I have worn my VFF 2 times and my Invisible Shoes 2 times while running. I can get spoiled wearing something. But I’m stuck on being a purist and be completely barefoot. Can you help me have a different opinion?

    • Jason
      December 8, 2011

      John, once good form is learned, the need to run barefoot decreases. I have no problem with people wearing shoes for protective purposes. All of the barefoot purists that insist on running barefoot do not encounter conditions that cannot be run barefoot (except for maybe Rick Roeber… dude’s one tough mother.) Just understand the trade-off of wearing shoes and be weary about maintaining good form.