Using C25K to start Barefoot Running Form in B... - Couch to 5K

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Using C25K to start Barefoot Running Form in Brooks PureDrift


I am on W4 due to run R2 today. Upon the advice of many of my friends and specifically my brother who competes in loads of triathlons, I wanted to try barefoot running. As there is a considerable risk of injury if you don't start out very gradually, I decided to use the C25K plan to help me along my way. (It is worth noting I couldn't have run 5k with heel strike form though even if my very life depended on it!) Anyway, I have bought a pair of Brooks PureDrift and absolutely loved every step of running I've done in them. Weeks 1-w4r1 were surprisingly doable. Just the right amount of challenging. I did have some foot soreness at times but nothing major and it went away quickly. It felt like the tiny muscles in my feet were getting a work out and were sore after but would recover after 24/48 hours. I had no soreness in my legs though. However, w4r1, though I felt good as I ran it, has left my calves in tatters. Should I run again today even though they are very sore? I'm afraid I'll break form and start heel striking - which I just can't do because of the PureDrift shoes. They are very minimalistic and not designed for heel strike running. Up until this point leaving a day's rest was plenty of time to recover but the jump between w3 and w4 plus the doing barefoot running form is introducing me to more soreness than I was experiencing before. I don't want to injure myself and I love the challenge and feel of barefoot running style. Not giving that up - maybe I should take it even more slowly? Or should I just run through the pain? Assuming I even can and don't have muscle failure in my calves and start heel striking? I'm open for ideas and advice!

5 Replies

I am no expert, but you are the best judge of if you think your body needs a longer break inbetween runs, listen to what your body is telling you. I have sometimes had to go 3 or 4 days between runs as I have a knee cartilage problem, but by doing that, I have managed to not get any major injuries.


Hi, I'd say rest up until your calves feel better, whatever shoes you are wearing - pain is not meant to be run through imo. I'm no expert on barefoot running but what you are doing sounds interesting - hope you will keep us updated. :-)


hi babymama, I agree with the others about not running through pain and resting up.

However, thanks for bringing barefoot running form to my attention (and others on the fourm). Never heard of it until this post. After googling it sounds a great way to run. Now I've started to get a rythym going in the longer runs of Wk4 I've noticed that I naturally want to land my step more mid/fore foot and would be interested in trying it. From the net search there seems to be 4 areas of advice for moving to barefoot form.

Exercises - calf raises, heel drops and single leg squats etc to accompany the transition to barefoot, implying these are the areas in the body that need building up.

Gradually (as you've said) - some other posts suggest starting out with just 10% of your running time in zero drop shoes and gradually build that up over time (some sites suggest up to a year) to 100%.

Shoe design, there are midway/transition shoes that provide a 5-8mm drop which help with the leg development before going zero drop.

Gait analysis and getting to know your feet (high/low arches, toe splaying etc) - knowing this helping inform which shoe to with.

I'm no expert but we are all built differently and what may have worked for your brother and friends may not be for you. Perhaps a trip to a sports injury clinic or physio to get your legs/calves/feet checked will inform where you go with your strategy for adopting barefoot running style.

Good luck with it, you've certainly tweaked my interest in this.


thanks for all the encouragement and advice everyone! I ended up running yesterday W4R2. It was quite painful while I ran BUT for the rest of the day and all day today I haven't felt sore so much. I "think" it might have been a case of needing to work out the lactic acid in my calves and giving them a proper stretch. I will do W4R3 tomorrow. Also the points about barefoot running generally were good as well. I'm certainly no expert on all the information out there and trying to learn more as I go. I have pretty flat-ish feet- and something about barefoot running feels really good. I feel really light on my feet and I can really feel my toes spreading out. Feels so good! Years ago I ran with standard heel strike form and over time managed to put a small tear in my meniscus which put a halt to my running altogether and I haven't picked up again until now. Also I went to runner's need before I bought shoes and had them analyse my form and they helped me pick the right shoe. Which is a good job I did because the minimalistic shoe everyone recommended did not work with my foot shape and gait when I tried it at runner's need. Anyway - I'm a convert to barefoot running form so far.

in reply to babymama

Hey babymama you got me thinking about my own gait now. I think I'll get it checked out soon. Over the years I've played badminton and football (alot indoor and on astro turf). In both of these I tended to wear a low profile (?) squash type shoe. Perhaps that's why now I'm getting into a reasonable running patttern I'm tending to place mid sole first. Having dodgy footballer's knees I orginally liked the idea of standard running shoes with big impact absorbing soles, but looking back over the last few weeks they have sort of felt a bit awkward - or am I just imagining that in light of these posts. I'm out tomorrow for r2 so will try and pay some attention to it.

Hope the aches subside for your final week4 run tomorrow.

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