Minimalist Running by the Numbers
Minimalist Running is all the rage these days whether you are talking to a seasoned marathoner or the new kid on the block getting into running. The big boom primarily started after the book Born to Run came out and people started wondering if barefoot running was right for them.
It turns out that barefoot running is a little more challenging to get into than originally thought as we have been running heel to toe for so many years. It takes time to reprogram your mind and body to switch to a mid-foot foot strike. The traditional drop from the height in the heel to the height in the toe has been roughly 12mm. While going from 12 millimeters to 0 millimeters sounds small, it can cause a lot of running related injuries. This has lead to the movement of minimalist running as most minimalist running shoes are coming in with a drop of 4mm with a little bit of cushioning. 4mm is a more palatable number for most runners.
Another thing you are seeing in the minimalist movement is the drop in weight of running shoes. On average, running shoes used to weigh in around 12.5 oz not long ago. The new minimalist shoes are weighing in around 9 oz. or lighter which sounds insignificant, but this is a noticeable difference when running. The weight drop can be seen in reductions in material used in the upper, less blown EVA in the midsole, and reducing the amount of rubber used in the outsole.
With reducing the amount of materials used in minimalist running shoes, you might ask whether the shoes will hold up as well as traditional style running shoes. The answer in simple terms is NO. On average, minimalist running shoes are getting between 250-300 miles while the average running shoe is getting around 400 miles. This number can differ greatly based on a number of factors such as the weight of the runner, the stride of the runner, the terrain run on, and the weather conditions the runner is running in.
Let’s talk numbers now. Say the average runner runs 5 miles a day 5 days a week, which totals 25 miles a week. Now multiply that by 52 weeks and you get 1300 miles. If you divide 1300 miles by the 400 miles you get in a normal pair of running shoes and that comes out to 3.25 shoes a year. Now divide 1300 miles by the average of 275 miles for minimalist running shoes and you get 4.73 shoes. The average pair of normal running shoes is running approximately $115 and minimalist running shoes are costing approximately $105. Multiply 3.25 x $115 and that totals $373.75 a year spent on traditional running shoes. Multiply 4.73 x $105 and that totals $496.65 a year spent on minimalist running shoes. The difference is $122.90 a year or roughly one extra pair of running shoes. Keep in mind that you can’t buy .25 or .73 of a pair of shoes, so most people will either buy another pair of shoes or get a few more miles out of a pair of shoes.
This is not to say that you need to stop buying minimalist running shoes and switch back to buying standard running shoes. If you go to Starbucks one less time per week, you will save $156/year if you spend $3 a visit which offsets your cost for using minimalist running shoes.
Food for thought…
Disclaimer: The numbers used in this article are rough as I have used mileage numbers and prices that I have seen over years of working in the running industry. These numbers are not exact, but they should be pretty close.
Do you have an opinion on minimalist running shoes? Feel free to leave a comment and let your opinions fly!