I am currently training for my first ever half marathon which is in 3-4 weeks. I have been training in a pair of Newton running shoes which have worked great for me, but recently my feet have started to get achy and tight like they did back when I injured my foot with bad running shoes a few years back. I assume the shoes are just worn out and it's time to change them out. I was thinking of getting another pair of Newtons but with a lower heel to toe fall or just getting more of a minimalist shoe instead, but I am a little afraid that changing it up too much could be disasterous this close to a race. Any advice? I have been running in Newtons now for about two years and I am running in their trainer shoe which is supposed to be the most like a normal trainer than any of their other shoes, but I run more flat footed/forward striking now than I did when I bought them, which is why I was thinking about switching to a minimalist or something to that nature. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I have been running for many years, but only at a 3 mile maximum so now that my distances are up to 10+ miles I really want to be sure I do this right. Thanks!
It could be that the shoes are worn out but if you don't log your miles you have no good way to know. It is also possible that with increased mileage, that these aren't the best shoes for you. Going to a more minimal shoe is something that should be done gradually and with some caution, mixing running in the new shoes with running in your existing (more traditional) shoes. It's actually a good idea to rotate two or more pairs of shoes, possibly of different brands/models. Going "minimalist" has less to do with your footstrike and more to do with how your body adjusts to less support and cushioning. Newtons already have a low heel/toe drop, on the order of 2 - 3mm, and are not heavy shoes, so you may not have too much of a change, depending on how minimalist you go. Switching shoes this close to the race is tricky, but if you find something that really feels right and you can get 30 or 40 miles on them with no problems you should be OK.
I'm going through a similar issue. I kept reading all these articles about minimalist running shoes, and transitioned from a bulky pair of Asics, to a pair of Nike Free's. Then my wife bought me a pair of Merrell Bare Access II's. They have a very low profile, and the upper is quite soft, so it doesn't seem to offer much in terms of achilles/ankle/foot support. I ran in the Merrell's for my half marathon, and they seemed fine. But since my half marathon in March, I've noticed I've been very achy and sore after every run. My heel on my left foot has been particularly problematic and painful. My plan is to shut things down for about a week to allow some healing, and then when I start running again, start running in my Asics to see if I am less achy afterwards.
Minamalist shoes seem nice for trail running, where the ground gives a little and for short distances. But I think for me, my feet, ankles, heel takes too much of a pounded when I start running 6+ miles in a minamalist shoe. I think a lot also has to do with your running form. I don't think my form is very good, and since my heel has been hurting, it's probably gotten even worse. I'm in no way an expert and I'm basing things on my personal experience. You may transition well to a lighter, more minamalist shoe, but for me, it seems like I need a more "substantial" shoe, that offers a little more cushioning and support. Especially when I run longer distances.
Couch to 5k completed: 7/15/2011
USPTO 5K 10/16/2011; 29:14 110/238
Bull Run Festival of Lights 5K 12/31/2011; 31:30 324/683