There are essentially two kinds of minimalists, and minimalist running shoes perhaps fit better into one but not the other.
One kind of minimalism involves having few possessions by choice, but it is often a choice made by someone who doesn’t have a lot of money for nice things anyway. By choosing to forgo fancy furniture, expensive clothes and elite restaurants, this sort of person can make the most of life’s precious experiences.
The other kind of minimalism is a sort of dabbling in a simpler way of life that’s practiced by people with plenty of money and other resources. These are the kind of people likely to purchase minimalist running shoes.
While not the most economical choice of shoes, they provide a close-to-the-road experience that you just can’t get with regular shoes. There’s less material, less weight and less between you and the surface on which you’re walking and running.
So these shoes provide a minimalist running experience and an alternative to other kinds of running shoes with arch supports, padding and thick soles that separate you from the experience.
But here’s the thing: although I tend to be the first kind of minimalist rather than the second, these shoes really are comfortable. And they really do provide a heightened sensory experience while running, something that can better connect you with the planet and with your chosen sport or exercise activity.
There’s nothing wrong with any approach to life that involves slowing down, consuming less and trying to gain a better connection with the earth, its people and your place in it. And there’s nothing wrong with wearing minimalist running shoes that can contribute to making that happen.
I just hope that these shoes aren’t the only way that the people who wear them are exploring minimalist living. If they are, that would be a real shame because there’s so much more to minimalism than buying a certain kind of shoes.