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Maximalist vs. Minimalist: Which Running Shoe Are You?

Choosing a running shoe that is perfect for your foot can be hard, check out this guide to choosing a maximalist vs. minimalist shoe!

maximalist vs. minimalist

I’ve been *officially* running for a year now but I am learning everyday that there is still so much to learn! Running is a science. We have already addressed the importance of picking the perfect running shoe. However, there is another layer to choosing the perfect running shoe: deciding whether or not you prefer a minimalist vs. Maximalist type of shoe.

I recruited Sean the shoe expert from the Shoebuy Event that I attended last month, because I was just impressed and highly interested in the science behind shoes he was sharing. He had so much great info in his brain so I am so excited to have his expertise here on the blog!

Minimalist vs. Maximalist Running Shoes – the benefits of each and how to choose

The difference between minimalist and maximalist running shoes has everything to do with the stack height, also known as the height of the mid-sole. Designed to mimic running barefoot, minimalists range from having no midsole at all, such as Merrell’s Pace Glove, to low profile, low-drop midsoles, like those found in New Balance’s Minimus collection.

Maximalists are the opposite of these, and feature a big, thick mid-sole with lots of cushioning. These styles still offer a lower heel to toe drop and often a natural foot shape (i.e., wider, more accommodating forefoot that mimics the shape of your foot).

Maximalists descended from ultra-running –longer than marathon distance, often over variable terrain – where foot protection is very important. For many runners, minimalist shoes are not practical, especially when you’re running on pavement.

A minimalist shoe will offer a greater touch – you’re closer to the ground and you may feel more stable—and are best for biomechanically efficient runners, which is a fancy way of saying runners whose feet work very well. Maximalists are for those looking for more cushioning and protection, likely more high-mileage runners.

Benefits of buying running shoes online

Regular runners likely already know what shoes or style of shoes work for them, and often times already have a specific style or brand in mind when setting out for a new pair.

For runners that are ready to replace their favorite, go-to shoe that they already know and love, online shopping allows them to shop a broader variety of colors and versions (for example, a winterized version of your favorite shoe) than you might find through a specialty or sporting goods store.

Shopping online is your best bet for securing the color you prefer, and it might be the only way to find an extended size or width.

Plus, when you’re online shopping, you can look at multiple views of the style to get a true sense of how the shoe will look, and you can read through customer reviews and product information provided by the retailer to really get a sense of the features and fit as well.

What are some other great running posts to check out?

So which one are you? Minimalist? Maximalist? Somewhere in between? How was your fitness and wellness week?


Wednesday 30th of September 2015

I don't think there needs to be a this or that. Different shoes work for different types of runs. I like minimal shoes for my short and easy runs and more cushioned shoes for my harder workouts and races :)

Shoes are tools, and you'd never use the same tool for different tasks.

ASICS GEL-Noosa Tri 10 Review + $50 ShoeBuy Giveaway! - Brooklyn Active Mama

Friday 7th of August 2015

[…] that ShoeBuy Expert Sean shared. I even asked him to drop some knowledge on the blog about Minimalist vs. Maximalist running […]

Dr. J

Sunday 2nd of August 2015

I have years and many miles of experience with running (over 100,000 miles). I ran with regular Asics on asphalt for longer than anything else. I was lucky because good form which I have, and midfoot (or forefoot) striking which was natural for me are two of the most important things regardless of the shoe you are wearing. I'll run barefoot on grass, but otherwise now I run on softer surfaces (level off road) with Hoka shoes. They are very light, some models under nine ounces.


Saturday 1st of August 2015

Thanks for clearing up the differences between these two shoe types. I'm probably on the end of maximalist because I'm running on pavement and treadmills a lot. Also, I have a high arch, and need the extra support there.


Friday 31st of July 2015

I wouldn't even know, honestly. It's cool stuff, though! I had a decent enough fitness/nutrition week, but ice cream tonight. Of course.