Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can't afford Hattori's or Vibrams? Try pool shoes

$15 minimalist shoes - and you can swim in them!
Today's run (street): 3.5 miles

Almost a year ago I went on a 2.2 mile run in my pool shoes to understand the minimalist experience. Overall, I found these shoes to be a credible alternative to running shoes but with some serious caveats. First, I ran without socks and the subsequent friction came close to producing blisters on my mid-foot. Secondly, I had not spent time adjusting to mid-foot running and going from my Brooks to this shoe on a daily basis would have been a recipe for injury.

A year later it's a different story. I'm happily transitioned to the Hattori's that provide a level of minimalism close to the water shoes but are measurably lighter and designed for stride efficiency. I do wish the Hattori's weren't so snug on my foot but that is becoming less of an issue as I use them. Perhaps they are beginning to stretch.

This morning I decided to revisit the "pool shoe as trainer" idea and went out for a 3.5 mile run in the neighborhood. I wore thin running socks to prevent the friction issues I'd experienced the last time. I needed to be careful this morning because elementary school graduation was happening and I had to be vigilant with hurried, distracted drivers streaming up and down the road. Closer to the school I observed many people jockeying their SUV's for a closer parking spot. God forbid they should walk more than 100 feet.

I stayed on the sidewalks as much as I could. The pool shoes allowed me to nimbly avoid buckled concrete around the trees that are planted in front of most houses. There was no doubt that my feet were doing their part to cushion my footfalls and I had no unpleasant landings on my heel. I knew I wasn't moving very fast but I maintained a mid 9:00 pace throughout the route.

Running in pool shoes did create more work than an equivalent run in the Hattori's. In terms of comfort, the Hattori's come out on top, being lighter and better shaped, with much higher quality materials in the liner and mid-sole. I'm looking forward to my next Hattori run so I can complete the comparison. I'm expecting that to be a much more comfortable experience.

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