One of my favorite barefoot running blogs, The Maple Grove Barefoot Guy, posted a great article today that serves as an excellent follow-up to my recent minimalist footwear and barefoot running shoe guide post, begging the question, how many pairs of freaking minimal shoes do you really need?!
You know that you’re guilty of this. When you still wore traditional trainers you probably only had one or two pairs of running shoes. One pair for everyday use. Then maybe one pair for that occasional trail run or race. You thought those shoes were just fine and dandy for pretty much everything. You didn’t go out looking for new shoes until those old ones wore out.
Now you’re a barefoot/minimalist runner, and even though you profess your hatred of shoes, your closet is crammed with no less than four pairs. You have a full-blown case of shoe whoredom. And if I know most of you, you’re still out shopping for the latest and greatest minimal shoe well before you wear out the ones you already have. Maybe you’re even growing your collection, and inventing ever-more elaborate niches to explain away your purchase (i.e. “Well I have trail shoes, but I don’t have trail shoes that match this outfit.”).
What is it about the act of swearing off shoes that make us into such shoe whores? Jason Robillard recently opined that we purchase minimal shoes as we realize our own limitations. We continue to purchase shoes as we find limitations in the last pair of shoes we purchased. So on goes the insanity until your shoes occupy a large tub in the garage.
This was intended for me, right? I can only assume so since on my quest to enhance running form and efficiency through the adoption of minimalist footwear, my once empty closet racks and floor now swarm with minimal shoes—yet today, I only wear a handful: I wear my VIVOBAREFOOT Evos for any running that I don’t do barefoot, I dawn my all-time favorite VIVOBAREFOOT Aqua Lites for casual wear, and I wear my VIVOBAREFOOT Ultras for transitioning from swimming to running at the pool (or in hot or wet environments). The only FiveFingers I use anymore are my discontinued Mocs, which are my gym shoe—if only to be compliant with societal rules and expectations. Oh, and when I need to be professional, the VIVOBAREFOOT Ra makes me acceptably barefoot in a suit.
Indeed, as Jason at Barefoot Running University put it, why are barefoot runners such shoe whores? I know for me, my collection stems from transitioning to less and less of a shoe from the seemingly giant awkward boots I once wore, eventually settling on a few choices that go on my feet when my feet can’t go on the terrain (summertime blacktop in Vegas will do more than just fry an egg).
Over time, I wound up with a repertoire of minimal shoes that I don’t wear with any great frequency—BUT, that’s okay because each shoe served its purpose at the time in helping me achieve better running form, a journey that is never complete. Therefore I have no qualms about investing in each of them.
I’ll be honest, I still obsessively read every shoe review on every barefoot running site because in the back of my mind something provokes me to believe that an even more superior shoe will fall from the heavens and trump my already completely sound Evo. However, at present I am perfectly content and able to run in minimalist footwear conducive to optimal running form. And that’s what counts. Although I wouldn’t complain if the Moc3 from Soft Star Shoes miraculously showed up at my doorstep in a size 10 or 11…
While the never ending pursuit for minimal shoes to more perfectly match the feeling of running barefoot will always be a battle of impulse fought gallantly with a checkbook, one thing is for certain—no matter how incredible our prized shoe of the moment is, our feet will trick our minds into believing there is an improved pair around the corner. And they will be PERFECT. At least until the next pair comes out.