I have always been a minimalistic runner & have some thoughts and perspective on minimalistic running, which I want to share.
I could sound a bit biased which is intentional so that beginners realize that it’s simple and easy to become a lifelong runner. Or a runner for life.
Firstly, what is running? By its very nature, running is minimalistic. You need some space to run, and some kind of footwear(that too is not mandatory) to help you not “feel” the ground too much. Although many of us are now taking to barefoot running, and though it takes time to adjust, there is a certain “freedom” they say they experience. Afterall, running is about feeling free. It’s primarily all about the “freedom”. Everything else is secondary. Nike even has a line of shoes labeled “Free”.
What is “non-minimalistic” running? For me, everything more than basic light clothing and a pair of shoes & socks is extra. I know that some people love to listen to music while running or exercising, so a basic ipod(the smallest one) is good for them. I ran my first “long” run in Dec 2007, at the first edition of Bangalore Ultra. The distance was 26km and I knew it would take me around 3 hours to finish it. Prior to that, the only thing that I had done continuously for 3 hours was writing engineering exams. And sleeping, another minimalistic activity which I never had any challenges to combat.
That’s the only run I used an iPod in, repeating songs that made me feel good and deviate the mind away from the pain, a pain that one is generally not used to initially. But as they say, try listening to the rhythm of the body. Once you get used to that, you will not need external music to “distract” you from the boredom or pain you experience while running.
Some aspects of the body music to listen to: breathing pattern & footsteps. We generally start breathing shallow while we are running, listening to the breathing pattern can fix this. Listening to your foot striking the ground can tell you how well you are gliding. What’s gliding? Gliding is the opposite of banging your foot on the ground. Gliding is not something you start doing from day one, but you need to be aware of the fact that banging your foot is wasted energy + risk of injury.
When I started running, I had shoes that were atleast 1.5 times heavier than the ones that I use now. It was a Nike then, it’s a Nike now. Talking about minimalism, when you start running the focus is on getting regular and picking up the habit. Hence spending too much on expensive shoes initially is not wise. Comfort is the key.
What else? A watch probably to time your run, but sometimes it’s wise to run without a watch, enjoying the run “freely” rather than stressing about timing.
Running is easy. Let it be!