I started running barefoot style about 3 years ago, when the book, Born to Run, was convincing folks of its merit and my osteopath was trying to help me figure out why my foot hated me so much after running more than 10 miles. I promptly got myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers-KSOs and loved them to death.
Yet, last fall I was faced with the conundrum of what to do in the winter. I wanted to try to keep running, but my little KSOs were anything but warm and provided me with very little traction. So, I tried a different style of Five Fingers, which to my dismay, did not work. The traction was great, but the pads on the bottom that provided the traction put pressure on the ball of my foot—so much that my toes went numb. And they were warmer, but not toasty. I like toasty.
So, with the help of the awesome folks at Runner’s Edge, I found the Altra Zero Drop, Lone Peak shoes. These little shoes were developed by a couple of guys with barefoot running in mind—but they look more like a retro sneaker. They have no heel rise or funky padding. They are certainly minimalist shoes. What I love about them is that they give your toes ROOM. They are wider in the toe than your traditional running shoe, so your toes are allowed to spread out and fill their roles, effectively.
The shoe is also incredibly lightweight, so it feels like you are wearing nothing on your feet—but you have the protection from rocks that you need when trail running. (I actually broke my pinky toe wearing my Five Fingers on a hike up Trapper Peak a couple of years ago. I’ve never forgotten how that little toe stuck out perpendicular to the rest—and so, I get nervous in rocky terrain).
Needless to say, these shoes find their way to my feet quite often and they definitely keep my them more snug in the colder seasons—with enough traction. I still love my Five Fingers, but the Altras provide a good balance and protection when I need it. Happy feet. More miles.