Minimalist Running and Heel Strikers

November 15, 2011 · 32 comments

Remember when I snagged the Brooks Pure Connect from the Marine Corps Marathon Expo?

Yeah, I think they’re pretty nice to look at. It’s like looking down and seeing this guy.

Mmm, not really. But you know what I mean.

I know a few people who have the “duck shoes” (a.k.a. ugly Vibrams), and I decided I want to go to a minimalist shoe before going all-out toe-tastic.


Plus, those just look silly.

Don’t get me wrong, you all know I’m all about function over style (solely when it comes to running shoes). And I have been wanting to take a step into the minimalist running world. The Brooks Pure Connect seemed like the next logical step after my Asics.

The Brooks Pure Connect “strikes a balance between barefoot-inspired minimalism and cushioning-required training. It has a lightweight, barely there feel yet is substantive enough to handle long tempo runs.
You’ll feel your run from head to big toe with the radically lightweight and flexible PureConnect. Neutral runners who crave less shoe and more freedom will love the maximum breathability of an open mesh upper built on a slim and nimble underfoot.Ā  A split toe groove extends through the forefoot allowing the runner to really engage the foot and get a greater sense of connection to the ground. This is a shoe for those who want as little as possible between them and the road.”

In Alyssa language, this shoe is super lightweight, incredibly snug on my narrow feet (love this), and feels awesome running on pavement, the treadmill, and grass.

A few weeks ago, my friend Whitney asked me if it’s bad that she lands on her heels when she runs. I told her runners generally aim to land on their forefoot to prevent injury, and she agreed that she had some nice ol’ shin splints (ah, my old friends). This is easier said than done, but I told her she should try to concentrate on landing closer to the ball of her foot.

For those who are runner newbies, landing mid-foot or fore-foot is a much more efficient stride. You will be faster and less prone to injury.

HOWEVER, the Brooks Pure Connect make it much easier for me to land on the balls of my feet as I run. And unlike the reviews I’ve heard of the Vibrams, I don’t notice a severe change in muscle soreness after using the Brooks. This may be due to the slight cushioning they still have, but either way, I like what they do.

Sidenote: as I’ve noted above via Photoshop, I’m still loving my Target C9 workout tops. And I’m SERIOUSLY in love with my Northface Better Than Naked shorts and highly recommend them to anyone.

All in all, I’m a big fan of these minimalist shoes. Who knows, I may bite the bullet and get curious enough to get the Vibrams to see how much better they make my running. For now, I’ll just stick to sleeping and showering in my Brooks Pure Connect

Ew… that was a very wordy, picture-less post for me. Sorry, maybe I’ll get my act together tomorrow.



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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Meagan November 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Hey Alyssa! I was just curious about the “Narrow-ness” of the Pure Connect’s. I have actually been complaining for a long time that there are no narrow minimalist shoes. Do you actually wear Narrow’s in normal running shoes and find that the Pure Connect’s are still ok even though they aren’t marked as “narrow”??


2 Celia November 15, 2011 at 5:29 pm

love my better than naked shorts! seriously awesome. I have the pure connects too. i love the way they look but haven’t had much of a chance to run in them yet. i am hoping to make them my new racing shoe if they work out.
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3 Brittany @ GOtheXtraMile November 15, 2011 at 5:58 pm

I’ve been dying to try vibrams and minimal shoes! I have suuuper narrow feet too so that’s good to hear. These are cute too!


4 Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers November 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm

Thanks for the review. I’m not sure minimalist shoes are for me, but I’m def gonna check out the Target running tops. Like the next time I run in for a birthday card, I might come out with a couple of those and approximately 20 other things I really “need”
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5 Janine @ThePurpleGiraffe November 15, 2011 at 6:22 pm

Hi Alyssa! Great review – I have the New Balance Minimus Trails AND Roads, and I love both sooo much! They have a wider toe box to allow for some splay but are not so wide that my foot is sliding around in them.

I am a HUGE fan of minimalist running shoes (I even have a pair of Vibrams, haha). My Vibrams don’t get as much use after I did too-much-too-soon and hurt myself, but I find them wonderful for days spent at the river, in place of water shoes.

I just gave my mom a pair of the New Balance Minimus Roads too, and she immediately noticed a difference in her gait, since it promotes a mid/forefoot strike rather than her typical heel strike. After she had knee surgery in July, this is good news!

Also, gotta agree with you on the running tops from Target! I’m also a fan of Old Navy Active wear!
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6 Danica @ GirlsThatRun November 15, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I tried those on and fell in LOVE, but I liked the PureCadence a little more and unfortunately they weren’t available in my size. I’m a super over-pronator so I need the extra support from the Cadence. And I totally agree – the Vibrams are so goofy looking, but I’m curious about trying those out eventually as well.
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7 Heather November 15, 2011 at 6:57 pm

im glad you gave us a little review here! I’ve been wondering about the “inbetween” minimalist shoes I’ve been seeing all over the place. Jen (from Jen is Green) and I had a discussion about them at the shoe store this weekend, even! I may be persauded to give some a try come spring.
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8 Lindsey @ Happy or Hungry November 15, 2011 at 7:10 pm

Damn, those shoes are sexy.
I am the opposite, I have fat feet! Do you think they would still work out for fat (fine, wide) feet?
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9 Nicole @ Haute Running Mama November 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I have the connects and love them for short runs but they are no bueno (for me) on the long run. I took them 17.5 for my longest (and have been running in minimalist shoes for a while) and found that they just don’t hold up for the long haul. Great for 10ks and even up to a half!

Love that they hug my arches!! Did you have to size up? I had to go up a size and half but maybe that’s because they are so narrow?? Looove the colors. Love em.
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10 Allie @ PickyEatingRD November 15, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Minimalist running is where it’s at yo! I won’t guarantee it but… shoot.. ok…I will semi-guarantee that if they fit well, you will have a very hard time going back to your old shoes. I have rocked my Newton’s (as you know) for years now and so many other shoes feel too heavy to wear!


11 janae November 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I want your shorts so bad. I have vibrams and always get made fun of when I wear them ha. Hope you are having an amazing day gorgeous girl!
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12 Kristen @ notsodomesticated November 15, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Well they’re definitely cute!! šŸ˜‰ And I think it’s funny what you said about a word-y post. I feel the same way when I write a post that has minimal pictures haha!
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13 alyssa - fashion fitness foodie November 16, 2011 at 2:57 am

I love Brooks shoes! I usually dont wear any other kind – I’m so accident prone I feel like wearing the vibrams would end badly.
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14 Rach November 16, 2011 at 3:19 am

Those are pretty cute shoes! I have a lot of friends who love the Vibrams, but none that actually run in them. They just wear them ’cause they like the originality of the toes-thing I guess, haha.
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15 Alexa @ SimpleEats November 16, 2011 at 3:33 am

LOVE those shoes. Didn’t think it was possible to like a pair of running sneakers so much!
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16 Jenn G November 16, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I totally agree that Vibrams look stupid. I know mine do. But honestly… I won’t wear anything else these days (for running OR general everyday use). I got my first pair of KSOs at the end of last summer. Wore them walking, loved them, and eventually began running in them after some time. I was actually skittish to run in then because I thought I would end up with injuries and just miserable. However, I’ve found exactly the opposite since I pitched my old tennis shoes in the trash. My shins don’t hurt anymore and that weird crazy problem in my left foot totally went away. I’m now on my second pair (Bikila LS) and am crazy in love with them. I’m being totally honest when I say I hate other shoes now!
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17 Sam @ Sam Bock Illustration & Design November 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Love the shoes!! I have such a hard time finding sneakers I love…the trainers at my gym and I compare shoes all the time; we’ll compliment each others shoes and then realize they are from SEASONS ago. I just haven’t fell in love with anything lately at all, but I NEED new running kicks since mine are almost a year old (I don’t run a ton, bad hips)!!! I will have to try these on though because I have wide feet and high arches (read: UGLY). I also need some good crosstraining sneakers to wear to BodyCombat and kickboxing….my feet go numb in the pairs of sneakers I normally wear. Money, why don’t you grow on some trees. Please and thank you.
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18 Karla November 16, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I’m glad the Brooks Pure Connect worked for you. I was super intrigued by them…maybe it was cause of the color šŸ˜‰ But when I tried them on they didn’t fit my wide feet at all. I was so sad!
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19 Whit November 17, 2011 at 5:18 pm

OMG I made a blog cameo šŸ™‚


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