A Minimalist Running Shoe for Under $20
Shoes so cheap they could be a stocking stuffer? With a price tag of $19.99, that could be a possibility with FitKicks. FitKicks are a minimalist shoe with a zero-drop rubber sole and a polyester shell that fits like a sock around the rest of your foot. These shoes are so comfortable it feels like you aren’t wearing any shoes at all. They can be worn by anyone, whether you’re an active runner or someone who just wants a comfortable shoe to wear to the mall. They are stylish, comfortable, and can even help correct your running form.
Before I get into the details, a brief disclaimer: When buying minimalist shoes for the first time, you should be aware of the transition period required to get used to them. Minimalist shoes have very little cushion and support. If you have been wearing regular, heavily-padded shoes for years, then you will need a fair amount of time to get used to such a bare bones shoe. If you don’t gradually ease into the use of these shoes, you could leave yourself vulnerable to injuries, blisters, and soreness. The foot and ankle muscles often need time to build back up their strength after years of being surrounded in cushion. Proceed with caution when transitioning to minimalist shoes. The phrase slow and steady applies here.
A Minimalist Shoe for Every Occasion
I found FitKicks when searching for a new minimalist running shoe about two years ago. I was hesitant to buy a running shoe online, but for $19.99 I figured what the heck, why not give it a try?
These are zero-drop shoes, meaning there is no incline from the toes to the heel; they are simply flat. The sole of this shoe is very minimal. I am talking about a little over a quarter of an inch in total cushioning. You can feel almost every detail of the ground beneath your foot. At the same time, they adequately protect the feet from any sharp objects, as I have run over small shards of glass and sharp rocks on trails without any consequence.
These shoes are amazingly comfortable and truly feel like soft socks. With the stretch of the polyester shell, they don’t feel tight, even though they conform to the foot. I wear them just about everywhere, from running trails to weight training sessions to obligatory shopping trips with my girlfriend.
When it comes to running, FitKicks more than hold up. My first pair lasted approximately 900 miles of running and countless more miles of walking. Contrast this to the average shoe which lasts 300-500 miles. My current pair, which are shown below, currently have about 300 miles on them, and still look brand new with the soles barely worn. I have run a PR half-marathon in these shoes, beating my past best by about 2 minutes.
The durability of these shoes is hard to beat.
One caveat is that these shoes will show the weaknesses and flaws in your running form. You absolutely can’t heel-strike in these shoes. If you land predominantly on one side of your foot or bear too much weight on a certain part of your foot, you will feel it. Because there is not much cushion, these shoes make the exteroceptors on the soles of your feet hyper-aware. All the muscles in your feet, which are often neglected, will be challenged while wearing FitKicks.
FitKicks are a great natural coaching tool for running. These shoes will force you to run lighter and quicken your cadence. I had one client use them, and he ripped a hole in the top polyester layer above the big toe after only 150 miles. However, it helped correct his form. FitKicks made him realize that he was plantar flexing way too much in the landing phase of each stride, and that he was running on his toes rather than the ball of his foot.
They are stylish as well. I have heard great reviews from many female clients and friends who enjoy them for their design. I often hear that they are like a more minimalist, comfortable version of TOMS.
With the design, comfort, price, and form-correcting benefits of FitKicks, these shoes are a no-brainer for the runner who prefers a minimalist shoe, or the style-savvy individual. After two years of wearing these shoes just about every single day and running in them 4-5 times a week, I can tell you their quality far exceeds their small price tag.
Looking for something not quite that minimal?