Friday, May 2, 2014

New Balance Minimus 10v2

I'm back on my yearly tour of "what's light and new" and after today I have a run in the New Balance Minimus 10v2 on which to report.  These shoes weigh 6.5 oz. (at whatever size is normal for weighing -- not my 11.5s, I'm pretty sure) and come in either visibility-vest yellow or a modest-by-today's-standards white with blue accents.  Mine are white and blue.

Summary:  this is a good-looking shoe that runs nicely.  Better, I think the Vibram sole should last a little longer with the challenges of my learning how to put my feet on the ground.

Minimus 10v2 in the white-and-blue option.  Photo from Runnersworld.com.

Runners World reviews them here, including giving more data about weight, composition, and fit.

These are not "true" minimalist shoes in the eyes of purists.  Although they fit like slippers and have zero support, they do retain a 4-5 mm. drop between the heel and the fore-foot.  If you want perfectly flat, New Balance makes the same shoe in a "Zero V2."

The shoe has an interesting opening with asymmetrical lacing -- something Asics brought out several years ago but seems to have abandoned -- and a one-sided tongue.  Thus, you have one slit at which to separate the upper and you tuck the tongue, attached to the inside of the upper, under the outside (left for the left foot, right for the right foot) before lacing up.  The laces too are minimalist with four holes per side.

They do feel nice on the feet.  After ~30 minutes running (to the gym and back home after a workout), concentrating on the barely-touch-the-ground approach that the PT advocates and that is designed to produce an under-the-body foot-strike, erect posture through the hips, and a long follow-through, my feet were none the worse for wear.  (That may not sound like much -- after all, I was "barely touch[ing] the ground."  It's not that simple.  I'm doing all sorts of weird things trying to achieve the sensation that has been described to me, with no idea whether I am pulling it off.)

The closest comparison in running feel is to my Newton MV2, a zero-drop ultra-light shoe with Newton's weird ridge below the metatarsals.  I reported on those shoes here.  In my first run in the Newtons, some guy in a car yelled out "you're a really good runner!"  But as Ted has commented, there's something wrong with a shoe that reshapes your foot for you, and when my knee went FUBAR I blamed the Newtons.  I do still have them under my desk and may yet pull them back out.

I like the sturdier soles on the Minimus.  My normal "minimalist" shoe has been a pure racing flat -- the Saucony Kinvara, the Asics Hyper Speed and DS Race, the Brooks T7, and the Zoot Ultra Speed -- and all of them began to take huge abuse when I moved away from hitting the ground heel first and rolling through the foot.  These Vibram soles give *the appearance* of standing up to it.

The idea on low- to zero-drop is this:  a natural foot-strike should be mid- to fore-foot first, with the heel contacting the ground, if at all, only as the foot and ankle absorb the impact.  If you have a wedge under your foot you are either (1) prevented entirely from contacting the ground that way or (2) forced to run way up on your toes -- like wearing a pair of high heels -- to get the forefoot down before the heel hits.  I've been striking the ground mid- or fore-foot first, sometimes by deliberate effort and sometimes as a natural result of other stride changes -- since January 2012.  I do not know that it is the "right" way to run, but it is how I ran my fastest marathon, and it is consistent with other stride enhancements that I am convinced are necessary for my long-term running health.  But just as I enjoy chugging chocolate milk in front of Vegans, let me put my thumb in the eye of minimalist purists:  4 mm. of drop does not affect foot strike.  

So the summary assessment is this: the 10v2 is an uber-light option to imitate running barefoot without the down-sides of blisters and broken beer bottles.  To my view, though, they look almost good enough to be everyday shoes -- kind of like those indoor soccer shoes the cool kids wear, but more in keeping with runner chic.  I may get a second pair for that purpose.



1 comment:

  1. Lots to like in this post. I know what you mean about trying all sorts of stuff to get to the point of barely touching the ground and then not knowing if you're doing it right. I've solved that problem by gaining so much weight that "barely touching the ground" is not an option . . . :-(

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