First Run in New Balance Minimus Trail 20

This morning I got to try out my New Balance Minimus Trail 20 shoes. How did it go?

The first run

For the first run in a completely different kind of running shoe, it went very well.

The first mile I was focusing pretty hard on running completely forefoot and getting used to the feel of the shoe. The forefoot striking was causing some aches and pains in my left calf (the one I strained on last Friday’s snowmobile trail run), so I went to a more of a ChiRunning whole foot strike, which really seemed to make a huge difference with these shoes.

This foot strike style is more of what I tried to run in with my Peregrines and felt much more comfortable than the forefoot strike, I would definitely need to build up my calf muscle a lot more for to completely change to forefoot running. I really think that walking a lot in the Earth Shoe Lazer with its negative heel drop and having run in the Peregrines with their 4MM drop since November, helped a lot in making run a lot easier for me than it has been for some, when moving to a minimal shoe. I will be able to tell you more tomorrow about how sore I am from my first day.

Very Different

The MT20s do feel completely different from any running shoes, I have run in, in a long time. I have a feeling that the closest to the MT20s, would have been the old Blue Asics Tigers, that I ran in during high school in the early 70s. Everything else has had a lot more cushioning than these. The MT20s do make it so you use more of a midfoot strike without thinking about it so much. I hope that this helps me become automatic with this style of running, because I have worked on it for a while now.

You definitely can feel the road much more than you can with regular running shoes, the little pebbles and everything else that you step on. It isn’t quite at the barefoot level, but you can feel the road nicely. However, I knew this when I bought the shoes and expected it. Oddly enough (I know I am weird), I liked the way I could feel the road under my feet, maybe if I was running on a different surface or a tough trail it would be different. However, being able to feel the road more, does cause me to focus on where I am putting my feet and stay in the present, instead of the wool-gathering that I tend to do when running on roads with well-cushioned shoes – when things are going well.

You know that auto-running that we sometimes do :-).


For a first run in a completely different kind of running shoe, I am very happy with how they felt. I still don’t know how they will be (or how my form will hold up) for longer distances, but for a first impression – it was very favorable.

I am still a little apprehensive about making this change to a more minimalist shoe, but definitely feel a lot more confident about the move than I did before the run this morning. I will know more in a week, especially if I can still do my longer running in the MT20s. Friday should be a good test, I plan to run Middle Road, which is over 5.0 miles.

Today’s Splits

The run itself was pretty darn good considering the experimentation that I was doing, my splits were:

Distance      Pace       Cadence

1.0                 9:38        86

2.0                 8:38        89

3.0                 8:00        88

As you can see, as I got more comfortable in the shoes, I was able to pick up the pace a little, figuring my stride when going faster will be a work in progress, but that will come. I still have to work on picking up my cadence, but that is progressing nicely.

For the first run in a new pair of shoes I am very happy, they did what I wanted. No pain, no blisters and were comfortable for a pair of fairly minimal shoes.

Unexpected Running Shoe Shopping

I have researched what my next pair of running shoes would be for the past couple of weeks and had a good list of shoes that I thought would meet my needs very well. Which I discussed in my Narrowed the Choices Down to 5 Running Shoes post. Sometimes you have to throw your plan out the window and go with Plan B, that is what happened to me.

Oh Crap

During my recovery run down-back yesterday, my left heel started to get a blister from the hole in my of Saucony Peregrines, it was more a question of when, not if I would get a blister.

I was afraid that this might happen, before I could get down to Portland, Maine (not Oregon) and check out all of those shoes on my list.

Where to Buy

Although online stores like the Natural Running Store and some of the shoe companies themselves are great, have fantastic customer service and I have talked with many of them on Twitter (Natural Running Store, Brooks Running and Altra) or other social media sites, there is nothing like actually trying on a pair of shoes for the first time in that style or model, before buying it. Especially new models or manufacturers I haven’t tried before at all.

The advertisements and blog reviews for a particular shoe might be great, but until I try a pair on, I really don’t know if it fits me correctly. When I am buying something that is this expensive and I am going to be spending a lot of hours in, I want them to fit correctly. Typically when I go new running shoe shopping, I try on between 5-15 pair of shoes, to get the one that fits me just right. I am a shoe salesperson’s nightmare, but that is how I buy shoes. After having a pair that work great for me, I am much more likely to order a pair of running shoes online and save a little bit of money that way.

TheWife and I had talked about how we wanted to do this and decided that we wanted to stay in the local area. If we went to Portland or Oxford, it would add at least another $50-$60 dollars onto the cost of the shoes (gas, lunch or any other shopping that we did). Also I didn’t really want to spend a week or two running in my old shoes. They are good enough for a day here or there, but not as a primary shoe for any extended period.

That meant that last night going into Augusta, Maine (not Georgia) and try to find a pair of running shoes. This may sound easy to do, after-all Augusta is Maine’s Capitol, has a couple of fairly large Malls and lots of stores. However, there are no specialty running or outdoors stores in the area (EMS went out a couple of years ago).

The Choices

Unfortunately, most of the shoes that were on my list of shoes were specialty shoes and usually sold at those kind of stores, not at regular retail outlets.

My choices were:

  • Olympia Sports
  • Lamey-Wellehan – I was surprised at their selection, especially that they had Merrells and Vibrams
  • Famous Footwear
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods

I tried on shoes at every store. Saucony, Reebok, Nike Frees, Adidas, Puma, Asics, Merrell, Vibrams and I even looked at a pair of Scotts. The Scotts were very interesting, but definitely were road only shoes, so they didn’t get the third look. I am not quite ready to go the Vibram route yet and everything I tried on seemed to be too stiff or just felt wrong. By the time I got to Dick’s I was tired and hadn’t really found anything that even remotely interested me besides the Kinvara.

Dick’s choices were the best of anywhere I had been in town. After trying on the Kinvara again, Asics – a couple of different models and yes the venerable Pegasus 27 (I ran a long time ago in the first Pegasus), along with the Frees again. None of these shoes made the cut for different reasons.

Decision Time

Finally, it came down to either the Adidas AdiZero (a big surprise) or the New Balance MT20. The AdiZero really was about everything I was looking, but when I jogged in them a ways – on that little track that Dick’s has, they were definitely too stiff for me. I had put on the MT20’s between trying on the other shoes and the more I wore them they just felt right for me.

I had to decide between the 8.0 or the 8.5, so I was wearing one on each foot and then alternating to see which fit the best, when I tried the 8’s on my right foot, I knew it was definitely the 8.5 that fit me the best.

The reality is that

I was and still am a little apprehensive about buying such a minimal shoe. In my top 5 post, I stated that I wasn’t ready to move to the next step for minimal shoes yet, because I felt that I still needed the extra cushioning. However of all the shoes that I tried on last night the New Balance Minimus Trail 20s just felt the best on my feet.

It will be interesting to see how my previous efforts of moving to a more minimal shoes for walking, running and how working on changing my form, will aid me in this next move down the minimal running shoe ladder.

Thank You

I do want to thank everyone who took time to give me advice on which shoes to I should look more closely at and representatives from The Natural Running Store, Altra, Mizuno and Brooks Running were very helpful in my search. There were several people on Twitter, Google +  and Facebook who provided me with information that you just can’t get anywhere else about the different shoes I was looking at and helped me make some tough choices.

Today I am scheduled to run 5.0 and do hill repeats, I don’t know if I will do the entire workout in the MT20s, but I will do the warm-up in them and see how it goes from there :-).

Things happen for a reason, let’s hope that the MT20s were the reason for this sudden change, if they don’t work like I expect and want it is going to be a long next couple of months. I have a feeling they are going to be just fine.

Questions for you

  • If you have the MT 20 what were your experiences with the shoe?
  • How well did they hold up?
  • What was your transition time to run in them full-time?
  • What is the longest distance you have done in them
  • How did you find them to be on the roads for a trail shoe?

I Saw Mud Down-Back – A Sign of Spring?

Today was just a slow recovery run after yesterday’s 8+ run. I ran down-back to Bartlett Rd and came back up and added Howard Circle to give me a good 3+ run.

The footing was getting a little treacherous down there, because there is still ice on the road, with a surface layer of melted snow/ice that is turning to slush, along with short stretches of mud. So it is slightly challenging and you have to pay attention to where you put your feet.

I just ran easily and still maintained a nice 9:00 min pace, that taken with the conditions I was very happy about. While on the tough part of the road, the pace was probably over 10:00, but better safe than sorry. According to iSmoothRun my cadence was 87, which is a little slower than my goal of 90, but I will take it.  Below is a picture of what down-back now looks like.

The bad part of this run was that my Peregrines started to bother my heel and I definitely need to move my time-table up for replacing them a lot sooner than I had expected or wanted to. I need the new shoes by tomorrow.

Time of Run: 2:40 P.M.
Temp: 42
Weather: Sunshine and winds out of the NW @15-20 mph