Try a pair of these on your road to becoming a barefoot runner
I am on the path to barefoot running enlightenment. Well, at least I hope it will turn out that way. Everyone I know who has made the transition from traditional “engineered” trainers to minimalist barefoot footwear swears there is no looking back.
Barefoot runners talk of speed, efficiency, flow, increased energy, endurance and far fewer injuries (in many cases, no injuries at all).
But the transition from engineered trainers to minimalist running shoes can take time â€“ and a pair of less engineered shoes on the way. The Merrell Mix Master Move Glide running shoes offer a useful mid-way step for barefoot running converters.
Engineered versus minimalist trainers
Engineered trainers have traditionally been designed with a deep heel-to-toe gradient, of between 10 and 14mm. Minimalist shoes have a heel-to-toe drop of less than 3mm, and ideally 0mm.
However, if you simply swap shoes you will end up injured because your calf muscles and Achilles tendon will need to stretch to compensate. That could be up to 14mm of extra stretch.
So progress to minimalist shoes needs to be done carefully and slowly.
The key is to incrementally build up the amount of time you run in barefoot-style shoes and to add in a pair or two of transition shoes, such as those with a 3mm to 8mm â€œhalfwayâ€ heel-to-toe drop. And thatâ€™s where the Womenâ€™s Merrell Mix Master Move Glide running shoesÂ come in. They have a 3.5mm heel-to-toe drop.
A menâ€™s version, the Merrell Mix Master Move, have a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm.
The Merrell Mix Master shoes are also useful because they can be used on-road and off-road. The sole is suitable for mixed terrain with low-profile lugs and sticky rubber for gripping on the trails yet still with a little cushioning to protect you on harder surfaces – although I wouldnâ€™t take these anywhere where the ground is super rough or rocky.
Merrell Â boasts of a â€œFloat midsoleâ€, which is â€œ10% thinner and 25% lighter to provide more feel and ground controlâ€. Iâ€™m not sure if I noticed this but itâ€™s good to know!
The mesh upper is low-profile and offers good breathability. There is a decent tongue (many barefoot shoes seem to cut down on the tongue size and cushioning), which gives good protection from off-road debris.
In addition, the Merrell Mix Master Move Glides include “M-Select FRESH”, which naturally prevents odour before it starts, and reflective details for increased visibility in low light.
How they feel on the road and trails
On the road I found I had just about the perfect amount of cushioning. I am learning a new style of barefoot running that is more mid to fore-foot strike and the shoes feel comfortable doing this even on hard pavements.
The shoes felt great on the trails, too. The trails and paths were a mix of dirt, stones and loose grit. The shoes felt grippy and lightweight yet I didnâ€™t suffer any pain as I ran over the rugged sections. I wouldnâ€™t use these trainers on very rugged trails because they do not feel robust enough. I’d suggest something like Inov-8 off-road shoes for offering more protection on really rugged terrain.
Overall the feel of these shoes is lightweight and kind of barefoot with the versatility of being able to walk or run on road or on easier going trails.
My only complaint is that the laces loosened a lot while I ran. I think I would fit these shoes with the elastic lock laces or use the knobbly laces that tend to stay tied where you tied them.
Merrell have also spent time designing Â the shoe to look pretty good. I know this is not important but the womenâ€™s Mix Master Move Glide in â€œBlue Depthâ€ look fab.