Barefoot running : Hi all! I'm starting my C25k... - Couch to 5K

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Barefoot running


Hi all! I'm starting my C25k in a couple of weeks, when I've finished my radiotherapy. That'll be 10 months in total of cancer treatment and a can't wait to get moving. I've never run before and I've aware that I have a less than ideal gait - I'm a natural heel striker, head leader, long strider...

To try and fix some of this I bought a pair of barefoot shoes, to walk in. I've got to say, they're amazing. Just a couple of days in them and my feet feel stronger and I'm walking more on the mid-foot and keeping my back straight. Now, while I love these for walking, taking the dog out, and can run for the bus in them - does anyone wear barefoot shoes to run? I've read positive things about barefoot running, but wondered if it would be a silly thing to do from the start.

12 Replies

Hi! Welcome to the Couch to 5K community, and congratulations on your plan to start the C25K programme. Also, all the best for the rest of your cancer treatment and recovery xxx

Which barefoot shoes have you got? I have a pair of Vivobarefoot, which are lovely, but after having had them for a couple of years now I have come to the conclusion that I will keep them just for walking 😊 I have even heard that the CEO of Vivobarefoot recommends that they are not used for running!

Anyway, there are different opinions about the use of these shoes, but there is a consensus that with zero drop (that means they are completely flat, with no lift in the heel), and particularly minimalist-style ones such as barefoot shoes, time should be taken to get used to running in them.

Since you are only just starting out with running, you could possibly say that you might as well start running in the barefoots as in any shoes! But as you also say you are a heel-striker (so perhaps you DO have some running experience?), I think you will find that running in the barefoot shoes will feel very uncomfortable at first, because there is a tendency to land nearer your toes in them (heel landing feels VERY jarring). Forefoot landing often will bring some shin pain at first.

So I don't really know, but I would suggest you get some other shoes with a bit of cush in them and alternate them - or perhaps try running only on grass or other soft surfaces. Of course, with C25K you will not actually be running much at all at first - so that also may help you get used to them.

Sorry, perhaps not very helpful! But I hope I have given you some food for thought 😄

Anyway. Good luck, and have fun with your running - it's a wonderful thing!!

in reply to roseabi

I only have a cheap pair of Saguaro trail running ones at the moment - as much as I love the look of the Vivobarefoot shoes I didn't want to splash out at first and find they didn't suit me. I don't have any previous running experience, but I've picked up a bit of terminology from doing some research! I've got an old, old pair of Asics and some Sketchers as backups 🙂


Just about everyone who hasn’t run continuously since early childhood is a natural heel striker... as you’re no doubt aware now it’s due to our daily shoes usually having a small heel or the heel to toe drop on trainers. Leading with the head is good, not too much lean, chin just in front of the breastbone is ideal. Long strides can help a lot, but the key will be to be landing your feet directly under the body, which may take a little practice. Having a naturally long stride can help with C25K in that there’s more scope to shorten it, and thus slow down!

I have Nike Free RN minimalist shoes, but tend to do most of my running in regular running shoes for comfort. Transition to full time barefoot/minimalist running should be gradual, I still haven’t gone to more than one day a week (if that) and I don’t ever use them for my longer runs. I work from home and rarely wear anything on my feet at all, but I still feel the difference when running.


By coincidence, I was just listening to the radio while reading your post. They were talking about running and the presenter was talking about the barefoot shoes and saying he wore them for a 5km run and felt great while actually running but then could hardly walk for days afterwards! It was on radio 2 just now, Paul Tompkinson was the guest, talking about running - he has a book out at the moment.

in reply to Debston

I was reading an article by him in RW mag yesterday, he’s been running pretty much all of his life and also does a running podcast.

in reply to Wenderwoo

I hadn't heard of him, but he was really interesting. Might have to check out the article - is it in the latest RW magazine?

in reply to Debston

It’s the Nov 2019, but I think he has a regular column called Tonky Talk.


I had vivobarefoot shoes that I was very happy with. However after a holiday when I did a lot of up and down walking along the coastal path, my knee was giving me jip. I decided that at my great age, I probably need a bit more support.

The idea of barefoot running is terribly romantic, but perhaps not the right place to start.

Glad to hear that you have finished your treatment. This programme is a brilliant way to celebrate. :)


Welcome to the forum and well done on your decision.

This guide to the plan is essential reading

There is life after cancer, so give it a kick.

You might benefit from visiting a specialist running shop and getting some general advice from them.

I have heard it said that barefoot style shoes can cause problems for those who are not used to them.

Enjoy your journey.


I started running in walking boots (hadn't owned a pair of trainers in decades) and then when I bought running shoes half way through C25K I was mostly concerned to find something that was at least marginally less of an ethical nightmare than most which was how I happened to fall into minimalist/barefoot running shoes from the off. (All bar that first pair have been trail running shoes) I once strayed (because fitted with them) into a thicker soled trail running shoe and they were a nightmare. I do best (as in find it easier to stay upright) if I can feel the ground - and I find them a wonderful corrective to heel striking because they sure as hell remind you not to do that straight away!

I've worn out my vivobarefoot trail running shoes now but their walking boots are still going strong (and I've run in those on occasion, but then I'll run in Keen sandals in the Summer if I can't be bothered to change into running shoes)

C25K will teach you how to run... and run continuously for 30 minutes at that rather than sprint. Most stuff you see about zero drop footwear assumes you are used to running in something else.

For context...I have been running for 8 years, I avoid hard surfaces (eg I very rarely run on tarmac or paving, and try not to do more than a couple of hard surface trail runs in a row - fortunately I have lots of options for woodland paths and gritstone edges) I have yet to sustain a running injury (apart from the time a bramble ran after me, grabbed me by the ankle and threw me down, but that was only scratches), running cured my many years of shin splints, I am slow and think I probably have a short stride and I do not wear high heels. My feet were surgically remodelled in my early teens. I've noticed that as I get older I have lost natural padding on my soles. This gets painful if, say, pounding a shopping mall in my usual winter uniform of low heel knee boots, but it doesn't seem to be an issue when running.

TL, DR: No, you are not being silly.

Thank you, I also like being able to feel the ground. I find it gives me a little more control over my gait rather than slipping into automatic. It's good to hear that you get on so well with barefoot shoes 🙂

Thanks all! I'll be honest, in the short time I've been wearing my barefoot shoes I've seen a massive improvement in my walking gate. I also have MS, and they've helped me to become more aware of the imbalance in my right foot that I couldn't pinpoint before.

This has all been just with walking and running for the bus though, so breaking things in gently. I'm a city dweller for the moment so it will all be pavement work I'll be doing, but I can also imagine myself getting complacent if I have shoes that are too cushioned - not really paying attention to my feet and doing myself an injury that way, if that makes sense?

It's good to hear all your experiences to build up a balanced view. Thanks for all your input 🙂

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