I love being barefoot. In fact, even in the winter, I’ll refuse to wear shoes and socks (unless it’s really cold; then I happily don fuzzy animal slippers and funny socks). And I’ve been known to take the trash out to the curb while barefoot in sub-freezing temperatures. I just like the feet to be free! But as I’ve noted before, the whole barefoot running-craze kind of freaks me out. First, I worry about stepping on things. Second, there’s so much flip-flopping as to whether or not they’re good or bad for your running form (just Google it—people are super opinionated on it). Third, well, they make you look like an amphibian. (Again, I’ve already discussed my thoughts on that.) But adidas recently sent me a pair of its new adipure trainer, and, you know I had to try them so that I could decide for myself if my barefoot-training worries were justified or I was just being loco en la cabeza.
First off, the adipure trainer is not technically a barefoot-running shoe; it’s a barefoot-training shoe. Meaning that it’s bestfor athletic drills, weight lifting, plyometrics and pretty much anything else you could do in a gym. With a special toe-separation design and a quarter-inch minimalistic profile, your foot is close to the ground, which adidas says helps with speed, balance and agility during workouts. The company also says that it promotes more of a natural movement because it harnesses the body’s natural mechanics, along with strengthening many muscles in your feet and lower legs that usually take a backseat when you’re wearing a pair of typical running shoes.
Well, all that sounded dandy to me. So amphibian toes be damned, I did a workout DVD in them. And then, a few days later, I went out for a short run in them. (Yes, amphibian toes in public!) On both occasions, I’ll admit that putting them on wasn’t easy nor did it feel particularly good. It took me a good five minutes to get my feet correctly in there—and my pinky toes almost refused to go in their corresponding separators. And, walking around the house just felt weird. And not in a good way.
But once I started moving? It’s like all of the discomfort went away. I was surprised by how bare yet supported my feet felt, and not once did I worry about stepping on something when jogging in my neighborhood. Sure, it was a little weird to look down and see all five of my toes, but it was also a little liberating. My toes were protected—yet free!—yet protected—yet free! And—this was one of the coolest parts—I could feel the different parts of my legs and my feet working. Which I really liked.
During my jog, my heel-strike softened, and I felt like I was running more lightly. And during the workout DVD, I just felt like everything about my form was more controlled and less clunky. And while there’s not much of a sole on the shoe, it still felt supportive and a touch cushy. No weird rubbing or chafing to report either. I’ve heard some people complain about seams on other barefoot-training shoes, but I didn’t feel a single seam. Perhaps most important though, I felt more like a serious athlete. So I was way more into it than I might have otherwise been on a random afternoon.
A pair of these go for $90, which isn’t a ton for workout shoes—especially a specialty pair like these. While I haven’t braved wearing them here yet (which is more of a me-not-wanting-to-struggle-to-put-them-on-at-5-a.m.-kind-of-thing than anything else), I do see myself continuing to wear them at home during workouts and for runs around the neighborhood (these shoes are best for hard, flat surfaces).
So, turns out, my barefoot-training fears aren’t very justified. Regarding fear No.1: Yes, you can step on things but it’s far better when you have this shoe on. Regarding fear No. 2: They seemed to improve my form. Regarding ridiculous fear No. 3: Yeah, I got over that. And now I think it’s cool!
Have you tried the adidas adipure trainer? Other types of barefoot running or training shoes? Want to try them! Tell us all about your experience! —Jenn