The mino™: “Don’t Outrun Your Shoes”

The Runmino is the perfect way to objectively measure wear and tear on running shoes. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
A rare glimpse into the depths of my running shoe. The mino is the perfect way to objectively measure wear and tear on running shoes. LED lights will illuminate as the footfalls trigger a counter in the heel pad. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

I received an opportunity to check out a mino. This is a device that measures your footfalls on your running shoes.

“What on Earth are you talking about?”

Okay, let me start over. The mino is a computer chip in a heel pad that counts based on impacts. You slip the heel pad into your shoe. It’s programmed to count up to the equivalent of 400 running steps, with a panel of LED lights that will light up one-by-one as the count gets higher. When all the lights are lit, your shoes will have experienced an equivalent of 400 running miles, which puts quite a toll on the soles and might occur before other more visible signs of wear and tear, especially if you’re an avid runner…like I used to be.

I had received a sample mino to try out last fall, but I asked the representative if I could wait until I bought my next pair of running shoes before starting my review. This is the company’s recommendation. Thanks to a snowy Colorado winter, it wasn’t until late February before I bought new running shoes and could put some miles on. Read on to learn more.

What Comes in the Package

DSC_0577
mino packaging is very simple. It’s meant to hang on a hook at your local running specialty store. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
  • One mino heel pad
  • One 2.5mm thick foam heel “spacer” for the other shoe so you aren’t standing lopsided
  • Instruction card
The top piece is a spacer meant to give your non-mino shoe a matching lift. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The top piece is a spacer meant to give your non-mino shoe a matching lift. It also has the instructions, which you will always have in your “other shoe.” Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Installation

Installation is quite simple. Peel the adhesive from the underside of the counter and stick it underneath your insole.

My awesome new running shoes. I have a lofty running goal in late 2014/early 2015, so I'm starting to venture off-road and needed shoes that could handle it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
My awesome new running shoes. I have a lofty running goal in late 2014/early 2015, so I’m starting to venture off-road and needed shoes that could handle it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The company worked hard to make these as thin as possible, so don't be alarmed when you see circuit boards! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The company worked hard to make these as thin as possible, so don’t be alarmed when you see exposed circuit boards! Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Usage

Simply press the blue button in the middle of the “o” in mino to see a quick illumination of the LEDs. The more lights lit means the more compressions measured. Once the mino measures 350 miles of wear, the yellow warning LED will light up. When the red light shows up, your shoes have exceeded 400 miles.

The company recommends checking the LEDs every 3-4 weeks.

That’s it!

It’s important to point out that the mino is meant for one use only. You will need a new one for every new pair of running shoes. Which means, yes, you’re generating some additional waste when you’re getting rid of your running shoes.

How Does it Work?

The convention among long-distance runners is to replace running shoes approximately every 300-500 miles. The folks at ParaWare, the company that makes the mino, decided to come up with a means to objectively measure footfalls that would approximate this distance.

The mino is designed to measure 400 miles worth of compressions on the foam unit. Using an estimate of 600 steps per mile (based on an average human’s stride), after around 240,000 compressions of the foam pad it will fully illuminate all six LEDs. According to the instructions printed on the foam “dummy” pad, 3 lights is approximately 1/3 worn, 4 lights is approximately 3/4 illuminated, and once the yellow light is lit, you’re within 50 miles of the 400 mile breakpoint.

In addition, the mino is designed to measure walking footfalls differently than running footfalls. So walking mileage will add up more slowly than with runs. Perhaps through a force measurement?

Comfort

I was very surprised at how transparent the mino was during my runs. I have a Princess and the Pea syndrome with my running shoes and clothing: anything uncomfortable will distract me and make my runs miserable. So I was quite concerned about a possible bumpiness in my insole distracting me.

But it didn’t. I can feel it a little when I’m walking (which I rarely do in my running shoes; typically I put them on and run right out the door), but during a 5K run, my footfalls were such that I didn’t feel a thing!

Conclusions

So far I’m about 75 miles into my newest running shoes with a mino installed. So when I press the button to illuminate the LEDs, I still only see one light.

If you are a long distance runner who puts so many miles on shoes before other signs of visible wear, this is a genius invention that will help you objectively track the wear on your shoes. It’s a great gift, and the fact that minos are made in the U.S. make them even more appealing!

The mino has an MSRP of $15.00 and can be purchased at the company’s website, or at several running specialty stores as listed here. Give it a try with your next pair of runners.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

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Patricia Vollmer is the proud mother of two emerging geek sons, ages 12 & 14. She serves part time as a meteorologist with the Air Force Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Patricia blogs about her family's nomadic military life at Ground Control to Major Mom. Home is always where the Air Force sends her family, which for now is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Hobbies include running, despite no one chasing her, sharing her love for Disney and Star Wars, and exploring the world with her boys. Ask her why the sky is blue at your own risk.