When Russell isn’t running he has an Urban farm setup where he supplies organic produce from a roadside stall and
Walking is one of the most popular fitness activities in the world, and it’s easy to understand why. The exercise is low impact, so many people can easily do it regardless of age or physical condition.
That said, like any other form of exercise, walking is simply easier and more beneficial when you have the right gear. Whether that’s comfortable sandals for a walk on the beach, or a supportive pair of sneakers for heavy-duty power walks, your apparel can make or break your workout.
That doesn’t mean you have to shell out big bucks for fitness equipment. Instead, simply having the right footwear is often all you need.
Consider a pair of minimalist walking shoes if you’re looking for a style that will boost your strength and overall balance as well. The following information will help you better understand why this may be the ideal option for your needs.
What You Need to Know About Minimalist Walking Shoes
Most popular walking shoes include an arch. That’s not the case with the minimalist style. These shoes feature a flat sole, as well as extra space for a person’s toes. This allows for a freer range of motion than other styles typically provide.
Minimalist walking shoes were designed to more closely mimic the beneficial effects of walking barefoot. Obviously, most people don’t feel comfortable walking barefoot most of the time, and finding a surface to walk on that’s free of painful debris isn’t easy.
However, studies show that people who frequently wear traditional walking shoes are prone to anatomical changes. Quite simply, this type of footwear constricts the feet and limits their functionality.
Minimalist walking shoes reduce this constricting effect. This offers a wide range of benefits. For example, the arch in most walking shoes doesn’t allow certain muscles in the feet and legs to develop as fully as they would if a person were walking barefoot.
Essentially, the added support prevents walkers from using muscles that serve a genuine purpose. Switching to minimalist walking shoes allows them to use these muscles more freely. The effects of this style on balance are also positive. Shoes that constrict the toes prevent the wearer from taking advantage of the foot’s true shape. When the toes have more space, the feet return to their natural triangular shape. This added surface area provides a foundation for the body that results in enhanced balance. Evidence also suggests that it results in better posture over time.
To find the pair of minimalist walking shoes that’s best for you, consider where you plan on walking. For instance, if you plan on hiking or walking in unpaved conditions, opt for a pair with a thick sole. Many styles are designed for this purpose. While you’ll probably find that walking in minimalist shoes requires some adjustment at first, the long term benefits are more than worth it.
By Rae Steinbach
Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing (of course).
Her twitter handle is @araesininthesun
The footwear choice for my upcoming marathon has been a decision I have thought about throughout this marathon preparation. Should I run this marathon in shoes or sandals?
Gladsoles sandals have been my number one footwear choice for the past 18 months, I do probably 60% of my running in them. I have completed a marathon in them before albeit the Beach to Brother trail marathon. They are a great sandal to run in. I completed my recent half marathon in these sandals in a new personal best time. I haven’t run a road marathon in these sandals yet though. My most recent road marathon was Seoul marathon last year which I ran in shoes, in particular the Salming Race 3.
While I do a lot of running in sandals, when I run long in them they are harder on my lower legs and feet. Naturally with less or zero cushioning they slightly tougher on the body. While this feeling is minimised by running a lot in sandals there is still a factor in the legs getting conditioned to running for long periods without cushioning.
Running in sandals has helped me be a better runner, my legs and feet are stronger and my technique is better. I have changed my foot strike from a heel striking runner to a forefoot runner. However when I run longer distances my form deteriorates as I fatigue. During my recent half marathon my form gradually deteriorated over the last 5km as I became fatigued.
For this reason I have chosen to run my marathon in three weeks time in shoes. Whilst I can run just as fast in sandals as shoes, when I fatigue in the final third of the marathon I don’t believe I can manage a running form that will allow me to run my best race in sandals yet. This is a weakness in the runner not the sandal, in time I will develop the strength needed to complete a marathon in sandals
The Salming Race 5 is the latest edition of racing flats from Salming and these will be my marathon race day shoes. They are fast, flexible and responsive. They are slightly narrower then the previous edition I wore in Seoul, which I would rather was not be the case but this is a small negative. The racing flat with only a small amount of cushioning will compensate for my drop off running form when I fatigue and allow me to run longer at my goal pace then the sandals on a road surface.
This is somewhat disappointing as it indicates that my barefoot running technique has still not developed to a point where I can run a road marathon and remain running with sound technique. I would prefer to run this marathon in sandals, however I am mindful that I want to run my best race and my weakness when fatigued will be better suited in shoes. I will continue to work hard on improving my foot and lower leg strength that will help me achieve this possibly for my next marathon, but this time it’ll be shoes in the marathon.
After 12 days of no running due to the flu training resumed last week and all my goal runs were completed. The main two being my 5km parkrun on Saturday and a long run on Sunday.
Parkrun on Saturday was run in 19:23 about 2 min outside my best, however I was more than happy to get through the run. Sunday I managed 1:30 along th breach at 4:45 min/km which was nice for the confidence.
This week normally programming resumes with a simple routine.
Monday – Rest
Tuesday – Hill repeats
Wednesday – Strength
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Long run (2 hour 30 min)
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Intervals (8 x 4 min 90 sec recovery)
Hoping to fast track training to be back on track towards the marathon. Will need to ramp up my long runs quickly over the next 3-4 weeks.
If I get through this week I’ll be confident I can get back to peak fitness by the marathon start day. Looking forward to testing myself anyway.
Running went almost to plan this week with my planned runs all getting completed until this morning. Woke up this morning for my long run feeling sick, had a bad headache and zero energy. So I missed my long run which is disappointing but overall it won’t have a major effect on my program. Otherwise things went to plan with my Hills session Tuesday and my intervals on Friday the other key sessions.
I ran a parkrun on Saturday just for fun and ran a great race. I wasn’t planning on having a peak effort but I rolled through the first km in 3:40 and felt great, after which I passed a couple of runners and decided to put the foot down for a while. Soon found myself leading and decided to push to the finish which I got to in a new PB of 17:21. Pretty happy with that result, I like to use parkrun as a fitness gauge occassionly and just test where I am in my running
Week 5 has a similar theme as recent weeks however I plane to make up a little from my missed long run tomorrow with a race pace hour run instead of a recovery run.
Monday – Marathon race pace hour
Tuesday – Rest
Wednesday – Hill repeats
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Long run 2:40
Saturday – Rest
Sunday – Intervals (8 x 4 min 90 sec rest)
Again my focus is my three key sessions to build strength, speed and endurance. Plenty of rest placed throughout the program to keep me fresh and simplify my running.
Happy running this week.
I recently took delivery of a new pair of Gladsoles trail 2.0 barefoot sandals. Gladsoles website simply calls these Trails, I’ve added the 2.0 to differentiate from the first pair of Gladsoles Trails I owned as the sole is different and the run is slightly different. Don’t be confused if ordering these, you’ve been warned.
The Gladsoles trail 2.0 is an 8mm Vibram Gumlite sole custom made to your individual tracing of your feet that ensures a perfect fit. They are a natural zero drop huarache sandal. 8mm is not a lot of rubber under foot, but it is enough and it’s enough to give you a great running experience.
In the time I’ve owned these sandals I’ve given them 79km of use. 79km over seven runs on a variety of terrain. First thing I notice about these sandals is they are slightly less flexible then the previous Gladsoles I’ve run in. This was reiterated by Rich at Gladsoles when I asked the difference in the sole, in his words, the Vibram Gumlite sole is denser and will take longer to cold to your foot but provide slightly more protection.
The denser sole certainly takes a little longer to mold to your feet however this doesn’t impact comfort a whole lot in the early runs. Straight away these sandals felt very familiar and easy to run in, once lacing was perfected the running experience is very natural. It is true to say that sandals become better the longer you wear them, my last pair ran 1100km in total and only as the sole started to break down in the last 100km did they not feel great. I anticipate this denser sole will last more than 1100km. The absence of a mid sole compared with regular running shoes is the reason why they last longer.
The Vibram Gumlite sole definitely gives more protection from objects under foot. This is a big plus for this sandal, the extra protection allows for a more confident foot landing over trail terrain in particular. Ground feel is still amazing despite the extra protection and slightly less flexibility.
I have run a number of runs over road, trails and beach in these sandals so far and been very comfortable in them on all surfaces. Being winter in Australia I have completed these runs in Injinji toe socks as most of my running is done in early morning and cool conditions. I have run two 20km + long runs in these, a 5km race, a hill repeats session and a number of aerobic runs to give them a variety of runs. The slightly less flexible sole has no impact on the running experience, the Trail 2.0 is a joy to run in, they give a pure barefoot running experience allowing the foot to move freely in its natural state and is not limited or controlled at all by the footwear. This denser sole offers a more confident ride which should translate into faster running over longer distances.
The fit of Gladsoles is perfect, being custom made to your tracing the fit simply couldn’t be better. Getting the lacing correct is important though and will take a few attempts to get the feel right, once this is achieved they feel like an extension of your feet.
The vast majority of my runs is now done in these sandals as it was with the previous trail model. Currently in the early stages of a marathon preparation and these sandals will be my footwear of choice for all my longs leading up to this race and the race itself. the race is a beach and trail marathon with a large variety of terrain changes throughout, i have no doubt that the Trail 2.0’s will help me get the job done in training and on race day.
If you are transitioning from a regular running shoe with a high heel differential be patient. The barefoot running experience will change your life for the better if you transition correctly.
This week I ordered myself a new pair of Gladsoles trail sandals. My current pair have now run 1100km and are showing major signs of wear on the sole. They are also starting to become quite thin and lost some of their structure meaning they aren’t as stable when running as previously. I am still currently running in them but they are ready for a change.
Bear in mind they have run 1100km over every type of terrain possible with at least half these kilometres on roads. They have served me well and motivated my transition to minimal running because of the ride they offer. I’ve never had a pair of running shoes last 1100km, usually the midsole breaks down after 400-500km and sole material deteriorates in a similar time. My Gladsoles sandals costs half the price of some of the running shoes I have bought in my past and lasted twice as long. When I purchased these sandals I was planning on them complimenting my normal minimal running shoes and running in them occasionally and this is what I did for the first 12 months. As my transition to zero drop running progressed I ran more in sandals and now do most of my running in sandals.
The new Gladsoles trails that I have ordered use a new material to the original trail model I purchased about two years. I emailed Rich at Gladsoles about the difference and found out the new material is Vibram Gumlite which is a little more dense then the previous sole. It will take longer to mould to your feet, but provides a little more protection against sharp rocks. They are an 8 mm sole, the same as the previous trail model. I am looking forward to running in the denser sole as slightly more protection will be welcomed when on trails. When running in just an 8mm sole you get phenomenal ground feel but you do feel the rocks and sharp objects you run on.
With this information I ordered a new pair but was faced with the dilemma of which lace and lace lock colour to choose. This is a seriously tough decision as there are plenty to choose from. Previously I have used neon orange, neon green and yellow on my sandals and changed the lace colour a few times. For these sandals I have chosen olive green laces and a black lace lock.
I often get asked when running in sandals questions like, “How do you run in them?” The truth is I don’t know how I ran in shoes that were heavy and inflexible for so many years. I am just as fast if not faster in sandals than shoes and I feel happier and more motivated to run when in sandals.
I’m looking forward to another 1000+km of running in these new sandals. In a weeks time I will start my focus on my next goal race being the Beach to Brother Trail marathon. I will be running this race in Gladsoles Sandals with olive green laces. This race offers a range of terrain, beach including both hard and soft sand, trail, roads and pathways before a 2.5km vertical climb to finish the event. It will be a tough event and one that I look forward to competing in.
It’s taken me a while to decide on a new goal race, I was deciding between Sydney marathon and Beach to Brother marathon and have decided that Beach to Brother is the race I’m going to commit to. Main reason being it is something different to a road marathon in a big city and the second reason is it’s in my home town and I want to support the event.
Beach to Brother is in it’s second year this year and had a successful inaugural event. It has a variety of distances from marathon, half marathon, 10km and 5km which all finish at the the same point on top of North Brother mountain. The marathon starts at Town Beach in Port Macquarie NSW, which is where I live and follows the coastline south where it heads in land slightly before a 2.5km finish up a steep mountain trail. The race is predominantly on beach and trails before heading up a tough finish up the North Brother mountain trail.
I’m looking forward to testing myself with a 3-4 run per week schedule with my three goal runs being hills, intervals and an aerobic long run. If I run a fourth time in any week it will be slow recovery. I’ll be making my training specific with a 14 week preparation with a two week taper at the end. Hills will be important and my long runs will need to be over undulating terrain to prepare for the hills in the race and also incorporate less road and more beach and trail running. The preparation will start on June 19th for this event, leaving me a few weeks of continuing to refresh my mind and body before starting to focus on a race again.
My goal for this race is to break 3:45. I have run this type of time on a similar course at Red Rock to Coffs Jetty and feel that this type of time is achievable. I will need to train well and run my best to achieve this goal.
The other goal for this race is to complete the event in sandals. I am now completely transitioned to running in sandals and have no trouble running distances of this length in them. My training now is 60% Gladsoles trail sandals and 40% Carson Footwear Iguana racers and I aim to continue with this method for the long term. I am very confident that I can run any event just as fast or faster in sandals then closed shoes as I am now conditioned to running in them. The Carson Iguana Racers are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve worn let alone run in, I continue to run in these to add variety to my running but mainly because they are so comfortable and fun to run in.
Looking forward to a good result here at Beach to Brother and getting back into focussing on a race.
Some pictures from the Beach to brother Facebook page that show the terrain and beauty of the course.
Last week my total running was 8.3km over one run, I chased my tail all week because I had a university assessment due this morning that I didn’t start early enough and underestimated the time it would take to complete.
Life lesson: Be more organised so you can have balance and run more.
Good news is my assessment was completed late last night and I’m happy with it’s quality. this allowed me to run this morning.
Over the next few weeks I have a busy schedule with uni work, my business isn’t going to run itself and my family still need me. Sometimes running can’t be your focus as there is only so many hours in the day. With a busy 2-3 weeks coming up I’ll be aiming to get out and run three times per week and be on top of everything else in my life.
Balancing commitments in life can be hard, and learning to prioritise the most important things so you can achieve success. the next few weeks running will be a priority to take my mind off the more important and time bound things in my life. Running will always be important but without a goal race to train for currently my running is for fitness and enjoyment.
Hills and beach for this mornings run.
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Everyone that runs long distances knows the long run is the staple for building endurance and preparing for marathons and ultras. Without the long run the body won’t adapt to the long distances when we race. Without an immediate race goal it can be easy to forget the long run and focus on shorter runs, yesterday I chose to put in a long run just for the fun of it. My family already had plans so I was home alone and decided to go for a run.
I threw a few gels in my running belt and a bottle of water and off we went. Decided to run to the small town Lake Cathie near where I live, plan was to run there on the road and back along the beach. Was feeling good when I got there after about 50 min so I decided to keep going a bit longer and went to the next town Bonny Hills. Was just over 20km before I hit Rainbow Beach at Bonny Hills and turned for home which would be about 17km all along the beach with a slight detour to get around a water crossing that was too deep to pass. The first 20km was great down the road and a few walking trails, averaged about 4:30min/km and was running nicely. The return leg on the beach was beautiful, it was a magic day to be at the beach but running it for 17km was tough. there was a moderate head wind and some soft sand made it tough. I was happy to reach the end and make the short run to home from there.
Overall 39.6km at 4:42min/km was a long run I am happy with. This is now my longest run in sandals and my legs and feet felt fine for most of the run. Last 5km was hard going after such a long time on the beach but thats to be expected when you run long.
Keeping running my long runs is going to keep my endurance for when I do decide on a new race goal. A few of the races I had hoped to do don’t mix with my work schedule so I haven’t found one I really want to do in the near future yet. Enjoying running for fun and continuing to challenge myself to get out and run without the motivation of goal race to push me. I managed six runs and just under 80km last week so this is working currently.