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Pretty Strong: Merrell Aims to Solve the Female Barefoot Riddle

Posted by on Mar 6, 2012 | 3 Comments

Sometime last year, Emily Snayd (a friend from Merrell and a crazy-fast runner) started asking me questions about women and barefoot.  Specifically, why aren’t there more women running barefoot and in minimalist shoes?  She had made the transition and was posting shockingly fast times.  She clearly saw the benefit, but noticed the barefoot community consisted of far more men than women.

I didn’t have a great answer.  I had a few theories, but they came from my limited male perspective.  Emily decided to address the issue at the Merrell Barefoot Roundtable last fall during the NYC Barefoot Run.  The roundtable discussions brought up quite a few good discussions revolving around the topic.  Most importantly, it gave us some direction to targeting women specifically.  If we’re going to change the world, we needed to tailor our message to the half that wasn’t showing as much interest.

The result- Merrell’s women-specific barefoot resources!  As of right now, the resources consist of a website:

Pretty Strong

A woman-specific training program (pdf):

Women’s Training

A Facebook page:

Pretty Strong Facebook

A reference guide to the women’s shoes they offer:

Shoe Guide

And a video.  I saw this being filmed… it is awesome!

Pretty Strong: Women of Merrell Unleash Their Power

These resources are the exact reason I decided to work with Merrell.  In the early days of their foray into the minimalist shoe world, they recognized this was more than just selling shoes.  There was an opportunity to teach people to move in a better way.  It was an opportunity to get people moving that previously thought it was impossible.

Since Shelly and I have been traveling around, we’ve been amazed at the success stories we’ve encountered.  People are doing things they never thought possible- from running to their mailbox and back to running their first ultramarathon.  This is the motivation Shelly and I use to continue doing what we’re doing.  These resources by Merrell help reinforce our efforts.

Check out the resources.  What do you think?  Feel free to give feedback.  More importantly, engage in the conversations on the Facebook page.






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  1. Lindsay
    March 8, 2012

    Merrell really bothers me. It’s not the product, but the campaign.

    There is no such thing as a barefoot shoe. A person is shod or barefoot. The end. How anyone can argue differently is beyond me.

    I tried on the Pace Glove or whatever the name is, and it was nice while too narrow. Glad to see they are making wide versions to fit real feet.

    Vibram, NB and (especially) Merrell are very misleading when it comes to marketing, and it really bothers me. Misinformation is a terrible thing.

  2. Janice Nicholls
    March 6, 2012

    I like all the resources and the focus. Definitely. I also like their shoes. However, I actually like the New Balance shoes better. Wider toe box which seems perfect for my wide forefoot.

  3. steph
    March 6, 2012

    A running playlist with songs at 180 bpm? That’s awesome. I don’t run with music these days but I know a lot of people do and the question of finding good 180bpm songs comes over and over.