Today, running footwear goes well beyond traditional, cushioned daily trainers. The minimalist footwear movement came on with a vengeance in 2010-11, and some minimalist runners continue to swear by stripped-down, bare bones shoes that give them an über close to the ground feel.
For runners who want something a little more streamlined than a traditional trainer without going “barefoot,” elemental footwear is where it’s at for 2013. But what exactly is an elemental shoe? Think lower weight, lower offsets, and a platform that sits closer to the ground compared to a traditional running shoe. Some examples are the Brooks PureFlow 2 (View Men’s / View Women’s) and Saucony Kinvara (View Men’s / View Women’s). These shoes have low heel-to-toe offsets, but still offer a decent amount of cushioning.
This year we expect further growth in the elemental shoe category, along with the introduction of a few new models like the Saucony Virrata (View Men’s / View Women’s). The Virrata is part of the “zero drop with cushion” story that we’re seeing from several manufacturers.
Are you ridin’ in elemental shoes? What do you think of this trend?
Running Shoes, Running Sport
Pretty much everyone who’s followed running trends in recent years knows that minimalism – a movement inspired by barefoot running – has been as hot as an Alabama August. So the trend’s going to continue unabated in 2012, right?
Not so fast. We have no doubt that many die-hard minimalists will continue to keep this segment of the sport alive and well in 2012, and perhaps even a few more converts will learn about minimal principles and integrate minimalism into their running regimen. But a lot of runners who dabbled in minimalism are looking for something in between a minimal shoe and a traditional shoe, something that will give them a little more protection while still keeping them in touch with the asphalt or trail.
New Trend Alert: Elementalism
What we’re really excited about, and what we think will be the hot trend this year, is a new category of running known as elementalism. It has its roots in minimalism, but adds back in some elements of traditional running. The basic idea is that elemental running slots in between the minimal experience where your foot does most of the work and a more traditional approach where your shoe is loaded to the gills with the latest cushioning technologies.
Elemental Shoe Characteristics
- Mid-Tier Stack Height: The stack height of most elemental shoes slots in between a minimal shoe and traditional running shoe models, getting you closer to the ground for better feel while still providing protection and cushion.
- Low Heel-to-Toe Drop: A more level platform is a key characteristic of shoes in this category. The low heel-to-toe drop of between 0 to 8mm encourages a mid-foot strike.
- Sub-10 oz Weight: Men’s elemental shoes universally come in under the 10oz weight that arbitrarily defines a “light” shoe. Most elemental shoes clear this barrier by several ounces.
- Flexible Midsole: Elemental shoes are designed to let your foot do more of what it wants during the natural running gait. Flexibility, particularly in the forefoot, helps the foot transition and improves toe-off.
- Streamlined Upper: Reduced overlays help to reduce weight and allow the foot to move more freely.
Some Current and Upcoming Elemental Models
Will Your Next Shoe Be Elemental?
So, what do you think of this latest trend? Will 2012 really be the year of elementalism? Drop us a comment with your thoughts.