When minimalist shoes became all the rage in the running world several years ago, I didn’t really get it. I loved my Mizuno Wave Inspires for the support they gave me on runs, and I couldn’t imagine sacrificing that.
But then I saw more and more people wearing the Vibram Five Fingers and I was curious and wanted to know why everyone thought they were so awesome. About two years ago, Vibram sent me a pair to test and review. If you’ve been reading that long you may remember the video series I made as I tested them out.
The Vibrams were fun and different, but I really struggled to build my mileage in them. (I think the longest I ever did was one mile.) I eventually gave up on the minimalist thing because I wanted to be able to run longer distances in something more comfortable.
Fast forward to today, and I’m mostly back to ignoring the whole minimalist thing and still running quite happily in my Wave Inspires.
But then I heard about the Saucony Virratas — a minimalist shoes with some cushioning to protect your feet. I was intrigued.
Through FitFlulential, Saucony hooked me up with a pair to try out.
Can we talk about how amazing this color scheme is?
Here’s the deal with these shoes. You get the 0mm drop of traditional minimalist shoes, but you also get 18mm of cushiony foam under your foot for an added level of protection. (If you want more in-depth details on the shoe’s construction, Saucony has a great blog post breaking it down.)
Despite that cushioning, these shoes are extremely lightweight, which I loved.
I tried them out first at my CrossFit classes, where the coaches preach a lot about the awesomeness of minimalist shoes. I got a ton of compliments and really loved the way these held up during the workouts.
My first run in the shoes was a quick and easy three miler. I loved how light the shoe felt on my foot, and I could barely tell I was running in a minimalist shoe. None of that traditional ankle/calf tightness I’ve experienced before.
Since the first run went so well, I might have gotten a little bit cocky, and might have forgotten that even though they didn’t feel like it, the Virratas are still a minimalist shoe. On my second run in them I decided to tackle five miles.
On this run, I could definitely feel some of the familiar tightness in my calves and ankles. It wasn’t bad, but I did stop to stretch out around the 2.5 mile mark. I also decided not to be stupid and cut the run short. I did 3.5 miles instead.
What I love about these shoes, besides the awesome color, is that I could put them on and still go out on a three-mile run. I didn’t have to worry about slowly building my mileage and working my way up to a three miler. I could just go out the door and do it, something I wasn’t able to do in other minimalist shoes I’ve tried.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m going to go jump on the minimalist shoe bandwagon and abandon my Inspires. They’ve done too many great things for me over the years. But I will be working the Virratas in to my routine especially on my shorter runs, and I certainly see them becoming my go-to CrossFit shoe.
What’s your take on the minimalist shoe trend? Love them, hate them?