Tales from the IC: zero-drop shoe quandaries... - Bridge to 10K

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Tales from the IC: zero-drop shoe quandaries (# 2)

CBDB profile image

I am still on the IC, but sitting rather on the very edge of that couch, ready to try a ultra short run later today or tomorrow!

It’s been a bit more than two weeks now (last long post about my metatarsal-related break here healthunlocked.com/bridgeto... ).

But I have been attending to and listening to my feet. There is still the remnant of “uncomfort” in my foot and I’m not sure what this tells me.

But I’ve decided to try an ultra short run this weekend in order to

- not loose my running fitness too much

- keep my metabolism up which is for me a driver for healing and well-being

- test out tentatively how my metatarsals feel after giving it a bit of a workout

- and just feel like a runner again.

I should be able to tell how much healing I’ve done, how much healing I still might have to go through and all of that with hopefully not doing too much damage if it is indeed too early to put my bones under the pressures of running again.

We’ll see and I’m sure there is a post in there, covering my experience during and after the run.

Whilst being on the IC I’ve been pondering still the question of wether to move to drop-zero shoes or not. You may remember me 2 posts ago being all set to start a slow transition to barefoot shoes, then 1 post ago suddenly not being that certain anymore, as overweight runners are advised against it. I am flip-flopping. So huh 🤔 🤷🏻‍♀️.

And I’ve been reading into it a bit more, gathered and tried different toe strengthening exercises and came across this video from Chase Mountains (see screenshot) exploring the process of transitioning to zero drop shoes


It’s really good, and has some really useful exercises for any runner, not just the ones chasing mountains or running in barefoot shoes.

He has a free pdf on his website about strengthening your ankles to prevent injury (although you have to do that annoying thing and put your ‘gotcha’ email in ), but this has really useful exercises for strengthening your feet.

I’ve also tried a Yoga-for-toes session that was described in a runners’ journal I came across (sorry, no link) and adapted it to my body. I had to throw some things out and amend others, as my knees are not yet ready to do toe stands or supine hero ( if you don’t know what that is, google it and read in awe … the knees are the heroes in that pose). I’ll probably will do a post about that routine over at the S&F soon.

Anyway, so where am I in my get-off-the-injury-couch journey?

- Well, I’m almost ready to see if I can lift off from the couch again.

- I am wondering (again) about getting a pair of zero drop shoes to very very slowly start transitioning (some experts even suggest never to transition completely but mix up your normal shoe-runs with zero-drop shoe runs).

- I am attending to this part of my body more, as after strengthening my knees last year, my longer runs this year have obviously thrown up the area of my feet as a weakness.

And then we’ll see.

Keep on keeping on, everyone. Even if you are not able to run, you are here and you are still a runner and there are so many ways you can still keep on strengthening your body. (Our Strength and Flexibility forum can also help with that at healthunlocked.com/strength... )

41 Replies
RunWillie profile image

Think I replied before CBDB. You could transition slowly like I have. I wasn’t prepared to drop mileage so I initially moved to lower drop shoes Hoka, before introducing Altra into the mix. I’m now 100% Altra zero drop but I’m still not ready to run in minimalist barefoot shoes, although I wear them when I’m not running. I haven’t had an injury this year but that might be down to many other things. I thought I would keep a mix of drops in my rotation but I love the wider toe box of my Altra’s. Hope you find what works for you! ❤️🏃‍♀️

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to RunWillie

Yes, that’s great to know. I actually have two different running shoes, and I think one has a lower drop than the other, but not zero, but I don’t know for sure. It didn’t say.

But it’s definitely something I want to keep in mind, so very much appreciate you suggesting this.

nowster profile image

It took me about six months to adapt to my barefoot shoes, ten years ago. I was only walking in them for most of that time. I now find shoes with any sort of heel or narrow toe box to be uncomfortable to wear.

I started C25K eighteen months ago, and have only ever run in toe shoes. I have even run short distances totally barefoot.

Definitely, the ankle is the vulnerable bit of the foot with minimalist shoes, and that's what sprained when I graduated C25K. Since working on the ankles in particular, I've had no further problems with them.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to nowster

Fab! Yes. Until now (fingers crossed 🤞) my ankles are a strong part of my body, but the metatarsals are the issue.

Do you do specific ankle strengthening exercises like the ones in the video by any chance and do you feel have they worked?

Do you have other exercises you can recommend?

Attached The ankle strengthening exercise plan from the Chase Mountain guy’s pdf

Chase Mountain exercises
nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate10 in reply to CBDB

No extra ankle exercises nowadays, but I did the ones from the physio for a few months. Nowhere as intense as the regime from Chase Mountain Guy.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to nowster


Roxdog profile image

I hope your first experimental run goes well! Glad you are healing.Interesting about zero drop shoes. I have noticed that during the pandemic, my feet are no longer used to 'normal' shoes as I have spent so much time working from home in bare feet. I read recently that people's feet have spread if they have become unused to this restrictive footwear.

My running shoes are deliberately chosen to be light and allow me to spread my toes and feel the ground, with little in the way of a built up sole. I bought a pair of zero drop walking boots and also day to day boots which are very comfy and haven't caused me any issues I'm aware of, although my hips are a bit achy. Am considering zero drop running shoes but nervous about taking the plunge. 🤔

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Roxdog

Yeah, the transition seems a bit daunting. I think I’ll take it little steps at a time. 👍🏽👏 Today I ran a quick route and I feel great. Little steps get you a long way.

Forgive my ignorance but what are zero drop shoes? Does it mean they are flat? If that is the case I think I would struggle. Many years ago I tried to jog in Adidas pumps which were flat and after 6 months of pain afterwards had to have a steroid injection in my foot.

What is the purpose of these zero drops?

Apologies for the questions. I'm just interested in people's thoughts and reasoning.

Ian5K profile image
Ian5KGraduate10 in reply to

I’ll echo Alan’s question. I’m curious too. How this ties in with any gait analysis you might have had - were they recommended?

I did a search, again out of curiosity, to find out what the elite marathon runners wear. It appears there’s no consensus on drop which makes them run faster, some run in flats, some favour drops. 🙂

in reply to Ian5K

I don't understand the need for them ..... unless you need them because of the shape of your foot and gait? 😕

Ian5K profile image
Ian5KGraduate10 in reply to

I really don’t know, Alan. Even my running socks have heels! 😆

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Ian5K

🤣🤣 in short, we weren’t born with heels 👠.

Our footwear reduces our ability to use the natural inbuilt arches for support. E.g. introduction of more supportive shoes did not reduce running injuries.

But as you said, the shoe sector has supporters on both sides.

Ian5K profile image
Ian5KGraduate10 in reply to CBDB

That’s true. Unfortunately for me, I was born 63 years ago and a lot has happened to the old feet in that time. 😆

Do you know Gower in Wales? I would love to run the length of the beach at Rhossili Bay, barefoot. Just to see. It’s a while since we were there and I wasn’t running at that time. 🙂

Mormor1 profile image
Mormor1Graduate10 in reply to Ian5K

I was there this summer but unfortunately it was high tide when I wanted to run so ran round the headland instead. Which was beaut too.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Mormor1

🙁 for running 🏃‍♀️ 😁 for swimming 🏊‍♂️


CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Ian5K

Oh nice! When I was little, living in North Germany we used to go in summer daily to the North Sea in Germany, Büsum, which has extensive firm and rippled mudflats. Everyone loved walking on it barefoot for hours!

GoogleMe profile image
GoogleMeGraduate10 in reply to

It's more a case of why did we start putting raises under heels?

Roxdog profile image
RoxdogGraduate10 in reply to Ian5K

When I moved to 'barefoot' walking boots with a wide toe box, my feet felt so unrestricted and they are the most comfy walking boots I've ever owned. So I have been wondering about whether barefoot 'zero drop' running shoes might suit me. So the theory is as others have explained, and my good experience of the boots has made me curious about running in something similar.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Roxdog

Ohhh, let us now if you make the transition. I’ll post as well. 👍🏽🥾

Roxdog profile image
RoxdogGraduate10 in reply to CBDB

May not be for a while! I've only recently bought an identical pair of shoes to my old ones. Maybe in the spring!

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Roxdog


nowster profile image
nowsterGraduate10 in reply to

Watch the video. It explains much.

Fionamags profile image

Glad you are poised to escape the IC! You have done an impressive job on the research and strengthening exercises. Hope you get on OK with your short run.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Fionamags

I did! 😃😃😃😃😃😃 post to come…

DylanTheRabbit profile image

I believe altra do foot shaped shoes, with a wide toe box that are not zero drop. They could be suitable for your toes without you having to get used to zero drop. I think they're more widely available than some other brands too, so you might find a running shop near you that stocks them.

Good luck with your test run.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to DylanTheRabbit

Thank you. Yeah, I think there are quite a few options out there, on this forum altra, hoka, and brooks were all mentioned as having wide fitting options. So I think I’ll never not buy wide-fitting shoes ever again.

And I did manage a quick run today and it was brill!! 😃😃😃😃


RunWillie profile image
RunWillieGraduate10 in reply to DylanTheRabbit

Altra are all zero drop but certainly not minimalist if you’re a barefoot runner. I currently have four pairs of Altra shoes on rotation- Altra Fan girl!🤣

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to RunWillie

Yeah, that sounds good for trails. They’re on my list! 👍🏽

Oldgirlruns profile image

I hear you about flip flopping over shoes CBDB but I don’t think flip flops would be very good for running in. Proper footwear is essential! I’m glad to hear you’re almost off the IC and hope your ultra short run goes ok!

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Oldgirlruns

🤣🤣🤣🤣 yeah, I couldn’t make that pun work, so thank you!!! 🤣🤣🤣🤣

My run was brilllliant! Post to come. 😃😃😃😃

GoGo_JoJo profile image

All I can say is try them and listen to your feet. After literally more than a thousand pounds spent during my metatarsalargia journey, my feet told me they didn't like the insoles, they didn't want to be restricted, they wanted more toe and arch movement. Every foot and body is different. My current treads are Hoka Zinal and I wear 5 toed vibrams in the house and garden.

Good luck 🤞🏻👍🏻

I like supine hero, it's not as hard on the knees as you'd think, you feel it more in the back and thighs! 🤣

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to GoGo_JoJo

Yes, definitely.

Supine hero …🤣🤣🤣 I’ll let you know when I get to that point but don’t hold your breath! 😅 I think I might still be 2 years of daily practice off from supine hero! Little steps….

I’ve just recently bought a pair of Altra Zero drop runners. Like you I was unsure about taking the plunge, but after having a thorough gait analysis and me explaining my running needs. We settled on Zero drop.It’s different for me though as I’m learning a new gait, so I’m already having to implement a big change and build up gradually. I always wanted to run in minimalistic footwear. I love the width on the Altras, as I have wide feet.

I too have been doing strengthening exercises. It’s going to be worth it when I master the gait. But I’m only running/walking intervals for a total of 5 minutes whilst I learn new gait.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Indielass00

Fabulous! That is awesome! I did wonder if I should get out my Old C25k app again for transitioning gently. Will see.

Cowladyrunning profile image

Glad you're edging of the IC! I'm in the sick bay so not running either (not covid , just a nasty virus). Good luck sorting your shoe decisions out too! Always interesting reading about shoe options!

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Cowladyrunning

Yeah, who new that some shoes are more shoe than others. 😂😂

Coddfish profile image

I did my best running a few years ago whilst using 4mm drop shoes. I transitioned to them slowly. Unfortunately the manufacturer’s next upgrade to that particular shoe had a toe box too wide for my narrow feet and each new pair of shoes I got after that seemed to increase the drop until I found myself back with a 10mm pair, which I hated. During this last period, my arthritic hip was getting worse and I eventually had to stop running and get the hip replaced, which happened at the beginning of September. I still don’t know how much of my decline in running performance was down to the hip, and how much was down to the shoe. I will be returning to running in the new year and am very tempted to look again at lower drop shoes. I have never liked running in highly cushioned shoes that feel like foam mountains but am also keen to get the best answer for my new hip.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Coddfish

Huh 🤔, it is sometime almost a detective-like search without reaching a conclusion, when we runners try to figure out our complex bodies. So hope you find a great way forward! And so we’ll done in being patient during your hip surgery phase.

Just in case it helps and you hadn’t seen it, the longer post about my metatarsals listed zero/low drop and wide toe-box shoe makers from suggestions by forum members, so that might just help. But you have to scroll almost to the bottom of my ramble healthunlocked.com/bridgeto...

Coddfish profile image
CoddfishGraduate10 in reply to CBDB

Thanks, my problem is needing exceedingly narrow shoes - just about everything is too wide for me. Using heel lock lace methods stops shoes moving too much at the ankle but I can get into problems if the toe box is too roomy. As for finding a combination that is narrow and not too cushioned…. I had the answer a few years ago in Brooks Pure Cadence 6s, but the 7s were too wide and then they discontinued the range altogether.

CBDB profile image
CBDBGraduate10 in reply to Coddfish

Bummer. It is amazing, though, how our feet are all different. I do wonder how we ever though it was a good idea to lose the shoemakers who made individual shoes to measure. 🤣🤣

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