Sometime in the middle of the winter I made a big change in how I run when I joined the forefoot running school of thought. Instead of landing on my heels when I jog, I strike the ground with my toes and the front of my feet. This running style has become very popular since the publication of Christopher McDougall's "Born to Run" and I was turned on it to by a few of my ultimate frisbee playing pals.
It took a little getting used to — running forefoot- or barefoot-style transfers a lot of the work to the calf muscles, but now that I've been doing it for a few months, I can't imagine going back.
Some of my ultimate frisbee pals took barefoot running to an extreme this winter when they kept up their shoeless runs despite the snowy weather. Me, I'm not quite as hardcore. I like a pair of shoes on my feet.
Right now I'm rocking the Brooks Green Silence which comes with the dual benefit of being both uber-green and great for forefoot running — its thin sole really lets you feel the street.
Here are a few other good shoe options for prospective forefoot runners.
Fitness blogger Al Kavadlo loves his Invisible Shoes, which bring to mind Roman gladiator sandals. The super minimalist shoe is made up of a very thin sole that is kept on your foot by a web of laces. They're based on "huarches" worn by Tarahumara Indians and can be purchased fully assembled or in do-it-yourself kit. It'll set you back around $45 to purchase the assembled Invisible Shoes or nearly free if you want to put them together yourself (not counting the cost of the materials).
The Vibram Five Fingers are the Lexus of forefoot running shoes and are guaranteed to get you some funny glances. They're molded around the foot, literally right down to the toes. They offer protection from sharp and sticky things but because they have no padding they force you to land on your forefoot when running. My buddy Jon has been running in Five Fingers since this winter and loves them. But, like the Lexus, they carry a hefty price tag at more than $100 per pair.
Paper Feet were born out of frustration for that hefty price. Inventor Jimmy Tomczak told GOOD that "I loved the idea of Vibram's 'Five Fingers,' but there was no way I could afford their $100 price tag". His Paper Feet are nearly that — Tomczak uses triple-layered used billboard vinyl to make the ultra minimalist Paper Feet. The vinyl is ultra tough but also super thin and lightweight. Tomczak plans on selling Paper Feet this summer for $5-15. Paper Feet will come with the additional benefit of being made by a worker-owned cooperative.
Are you on Twitter? Follow me (@sheagunther) there; I give good tweets.
And if you really like my writing, you can join my Facebook page.