Running playtest review: New Balance Minimus 10V2 Trail


It’s May and Spring is finally upon us.

The snow has melted and the sun is out signalling that Winter has exited stage left and the new season has sprung like an excitable feline.

Now, having spent the bitterly cold winter months gently making the transition from heel striker to a more barefoot running style, has been waiting for the moment to leap off the treadmill and hit the sun drenched trails.

20130501-204200.jpgAll we needed was a sparkling new pair of running shoes and New Balance came up trumps, sending us a pair of the eagerly anticipated Minimus 10V2 Trail.

As the second generation of the much loved Minimus 10 Trail series, they ticked both of our boxes designed for barefoot style running on the trails. This was meant to be.

20130501-204236.jpgWith a name like ‘minimus’, weighing in at 175g and promising a ‘nearly barefoot running experience’ there is no surprise to find that there really is not much to these shoes.

They feel incredibly light and very flexible indeed, unlike any running shoe has had the privilege of putting under the microscope of a playtest review.

As mentioned above, I am in the process of training myself to run with a more barefoot style due to my previous heel striking being the cause of a very painful knee injury.

20130501-204502.jpgThis re-training process has involved a conscious effort to point the toes and land on the midfoot.

What is instantly striking about running in the Minimus 10 V2s is that this conscious effort is no longer required.

With just a 4mm heel drop, there really is very little option but to run barefoot style because to do otherwise would be very uncomfortable indeed and somewhat unnatural.

20130501-204517.jpgThis freedom of thought allowed me to prance along naturally and concentrate on maintaining form and speed.

Having not had the privilege of running in a pair of the original Minimus 10 trails it is impossible to compare the two but the subtle changes certainly make for a comfortable ride.

Having read reviews, the major complaint about the original version was the restricting nature of the forefoot band.

20130501-204308.jpgThere has been no sign of this in the V2s thanks largely to the use of traditional synthetic material rather than rubber.

Now, with a name like ‘Minimus’, you might have thought that the original version was as light as it could possibly be but remarkable New Balance have managed to find a new lower fighting weight thanks to a reduction in the use of rubber in the outsole.

This evolution makes for a flexible running experience that, as promised, is very close to being barefoot.

20130501-204509.jpgWhat a naked foot cannot offer however is the traction required to attack the trails and that is where the VIBRAM outsole steps into the spotlight.

Admittedly the trails trod for the purposes of this review were not in any way extreme in terms of being muddy or mountainous but what challenges the VIBRAM soles were asked to take on they did so with aplomb.

In my limited experience of barefoot running I have regularly encountered some pain in the calf muscles as they are forced to take more of the strain.

20130501-204525.jpgI fully expected this to be the case in the V2s too. But to my surprise and comfort this was not the case at anything up to 10km.

Again this allowed me to concentrate on building speed and finish with a flourish on each outing.

Now, owing to my relative inexperience of barefoot running rather than any fault with the shoes, this calf pain did emerge on the following day, proving that there is still work to do in my personal transition.

But, persist I will and in the Minimus 10 V2 Trail it is evident that I have the perfect ally.

Sensibly, New Balance provide a warning to accompany their minimus range. If you are new to barefoot running, do approach with caution and, to echo the warning, make it a gradual process as the new demands on the body are significant and likely to cause injury if not managed appropriately.

What are your impressions of the New Balance Minimus 10V2 Trail? Do you wear them? If so, please leave a comment below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages letting us know what you think of them.

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