barefoot running - any tips?: I'm currently week... - Couch to 5K

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barefoot running - any tips?


I'm currently week 5 day 2 and considering barefoot running. There is a clear field I have access to which is flat, mowed and perfect for giving barefoot a go. I had a dabble this evening which seemed quite promising albeit hard on my calves. Any tips anyone?

10 Replies

Well, I guess it's like breaking in a new pair of shoes (never having run barefoot myself, unless you count running after naughty dogs and children).

The given advice is to start small and build up: not to try and run barefoot all at once in one go. So, you might want to add 2-3 minutes of barefoot running after your normal c25k run and build up from there.


There's some really good websites, it goes under natural & minimalist running too. There is plenty of specialised footwear & trainers and the general opinion seems to be that it is a gradual progression, to allow the natural procieption in your feet develop. Tho' as long as the area is free of hazards & not too stoney I guess there's no harm in giving it a go. My first trainers were 'barefoot', which I bought without fully understanding and they were too thin for me to run on tarmac. But when I tried more cushioned minimalist trainers for road running then I started getting calf problems! It's what your used to I guess!

I dunno, but do let us know how you get on because I'm considering doing a similar thing (maybe 1 short run a week in the meadows near my house - long grass and mud but no serious gravel/broken glass types hazards). I've a feeling it would improve my form and make my feet stronger even if I still do longer runs shod.

Here is a good clip from the guy who was the trainer in Born to Run:


There is "barefoot" running - and there is "minimalist" running. Barefoot needs no further explanation - but perhaps "minimalist" does. Minimalist means running in some kind of footwear just over and above running barefoot -- but not to the extent of running in heavily engineered shoes. This means that you might for example still run in NIKE or ADIDAS shoes -- but they will have very low heel to toe drop and also be very light. I have NIKE Free5.0's and SAUCONY Kinvaras.


It is said that you should "transition" to barefoot or minimalist running -- but this assumes that you have been running for many years already in engineered shoes. If however, like me, you are a beginner runner, this is nonsense (unless of course you have spent your entire life walking around in high heels) . For me , I have spent most of my life walking around barefoot (except for when I was at work - which was large part of my life, but still not the major part of my life - I only worked 8 hours per day, out of 24) . However I also don't live in a cold climate .


I tried Vivobarefoot running shoes a couple of years ago and loved them, they were so light. Sadly my legs didn't feel the same about them, I took 3 months to build up getting used to them, very gradually. Then off we went to Cuba on holiday so my lovely Vivo's went too, taking up much less room in the suitcase. By the end of the second week I had Achilles pain, stupid me ignored it and kept running through the third week. Back home and £200 worse off after many Physio appointments with instructions to not run in bare foot shoes again. So if you have never done bare foot running before alternate for quite some time, only do short runs bare foot and loads of stretches after each run. If your Achilles starts to pull or feel at all painful rest and go back to your regular running shoes. On a safety issue, are you quite sure this grass is OK to run bare foot on, be very aware of any hidden objects that could cause serious injury. Hope this helps, will be interested to hear how you get on and good luck.


I am spending as much barefoot time around the house as possible since hurting my ankle as I think your feet need to be in direct contact with the ground as much as possible however, I like a bit of padding when I run. I do like the look of the merrell gloves though

I read that vibram are being sued by an injured runner

Thanks for all the replies. An update for you all...

I did my W5 D2 run barefoot (As in completely barefoot) today with no major issues. It clearly works different muscles running barefoot as my calves were aching lots and still feel fairly tight compared to a trainers on run. I did the last 2 minutes run on a tarmac path on the way home to see how it felt. It was surprisingly easy to do. Overall I am not sure I changed my running style too much by running barefoot. I was trying not to heel strike but I'm not sure how successful I was.

I enjoyed the freedom of running without shoes. At the risk of sounding like a hippy, it felt very 'connected' to my run tonight. Its also nice to have cool feet instead of baking! I got a few odd looks from others who use the field and I'd taken trainers with me just in case so I had to stop a dog from stealing them at one point but on the whole a very satisfying experience.

Apparently your supposed to transition very slowly from trainers to barefoot, as studies have shown that doing it too fast will cause you injury.....just as long as you take it slow you should be fine cxxx

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