Here’s another product we’re keeping our eye on for the MMNPL.
“NB Minimus is a barefoot-inspired line of shoes created specifically for runners seeking a truly minimalist experience,” said Katherine Petrecca, the manager for the new line. “We view these shoes very much as tools that encourage better running form, and help strengthen the legs and feet. As important, a great minimal shoe should deliver increased ground feel and control, which is what makes them so much fun to use.”
You don’t have to be a competitive runner to use a Minimus shoe, either. New Balance created three different shoes for different uses: Minimus Road, Minimus Trail and Minimus Wellness. The first two are self-explanatory while the Minimus Wellness is intended as a shoe that doesn’t have to be used just for exercise.
This isn’t the first line of shoes to hit the minimalist market. The Merrell Barefoot shoes, the Vibram Five Fingers and the Mizuno Universe Wave 3 racing flats all have a healthy following among runners. However, what sets the NB Minimus apart from its competitors is its reliance on incorporating feedback from real minimalist running enthusiasts into their designs.
A video on their website shows Team New Balance ultra-marathoner Anton Krupicka describing how he had begun cutting the soles off of his running shoes in frustration because he could not find a shoe with a small enough drop, and the other minimalist shoes available weren’t protective enough. This led to an “aha!” moment for New Balance’s designers: Send prototypes to real runners and encourage them to make modifications to the shoes and send them back. The result? A minimalist shoe made by runners, for runners.
The minimalist movement is all about providing the most natural running experience, and that means using a shoe that feels like it’s barely there. Its growth is thanks in large part to the research done by Dr. Daniel Lieberman at Harvard University, which found that the most experienced (read: best) runners avoid landing on their heels to minimize impact and maximize energy and endurance. It is also based on the ideas in Christopher McDougall’s book Born to Run.
The NB Minimus design is ultralight (under 8.5 ounces) and incredibly low to the ground with just a 4 mm drop from the heel to the forefoot.
New Balance took all of the research and information they had gathered in developing the Minimus and created educational launch events which promised “There’s a better way to run. Learn to train more efficiently, to keep you on the road, to run longer, faster, and more comfortably than ever before.” These events were designed to advocate for minimalist running, teach proper form and to dispel some of the myths around the minimalist movement.
By integrating customers into the development of their product, and positioning themselves as an expert in the minimalist running category, New Balance has definitely created and launched a line of products designed to go the distance.