Saturday, May 17, 2014

Shoe crisis

I'm afraid that I'm about to have a shoe crisis. See, I got into running just before the whole minimalist deal starting getting legs. I read about it, gave it a shot, and what do you know, I liked it. I'm not one of those, "I used to get injured every time I ran in my 'normal' trainers, switched to VFFs, and now I'm setting world records in Huaraches!" minimalist success stories. I've never been injured, so I didn't really have anything to magically be fixed overnight when I made the switch. I just like running in light, flexible, low profile shoes with enough ground feel that I don't feel like my feet have gone numb.

It's been in the news for a while now that sales of minimalist running shoes are drying up. Shoe manufacturers have to make money. They have to make shoes that they can sell. If minimalist shoes aren't selling, then that's not what they're going to make or market. It's no secret that I have an affinity for Merrell's Barefoot line of shoes. The original Road Glove is my favorite running shoe of all time. I was eager to try the Road Glove 2 and gave it a fair shot, but ultimately was disappointed in them as a running shoe (although I think they do look cool and work great for casual use). It felt like Merrell had reacted and maybe over corrected a bit for my preferences. The follow ups were thicker, firmer and felt like they were resisting my feet and legs more than working with them.

Perhaps I'm overreacting a bit myself. This is only one shoe from one brand. There are still plenty of other brands that market themselves as minimal, and there are definitely plenty of options to be had for all kinds of tastes and needs in running shoes. However, more and more I'm seeing words like "protection" and "support" not to mention larger stack heights than I'm used to seeing in marketing materials in places I didn't expect it. My shoes had just the right amount of cushion, protection, and material under foot before. Please keep making them.