This week I was invited to go to Minimalist Running Clinic by my fitness guru chum Julia Buckley. I thought it was very appropriate since I’ve done so little running lately. But of course minimalist running is not about a low running:couch ratio it’s about wearing as little on your feet as possible while you run a lot.
So I grab the camera and head off to Runner’s Need in Holborn to meet Giuseppe Grandinetti, co-founder of Vibram Five Fingers (say “Vee-brarm”) and his high-octane colleague Corrado for a grounding in the products and the philosophy and to try them out. I am pleased to be joined by a host of journos and bloggers including the prolific JogBlog and Carys from Womens Running Mag.
After a talky bit we un-shoe and do some exercises to “get to know our feet”. We balance and teeter and roll, realising how little we do know our feet and what they are doing, at the same time recognising the incredible and instinctive role they play in controlling our posture and movement.
Vibram Five Fingers are light slippers with individual toes and a tough sole. Among the variations in the range are models designed for trail, sprint or long-distance. Users wear them to the gym and, as I found out, to go shopping too. Most are boldly coloured but they’re sturdy; Vibram make Doc Martens soles so they have pedigree…
It has to be said, VFFs attract opinions ranging from “Cool” to “Outright Weird” but put a pair on and you immediately feel in touch with the ground and light-footed (my pair weighed only 250g).
Minimalist or “Barefoot” running is officially a trend amongst runners and has been shown to reduce stress on joints and muscles and reflect our true running origins. Big cushioned shoe brands used to rubbish this view but now see it as a range extension opportunity. You can almost hear the back-peddling.