Barefoot/Minimalist experiences

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06/09/2012 at 05:23

I'm a fairly high mileage runner (anywhere between 30 and 60 miles a week) and have just taken my first steps into minimalist running with a pair of vivbarefoot shoes.  So far just done 3 one mile runs in them and they feel brilliant, dying to go further but am holding myself back.  Ive found lots of positive experiences on running forums of people switching to minimalist/barefoot running, but are they're any negative experiences, has anybody tried it and hated it or do they blame theseshoes for injuries?

06/09/2012 at 20:53

I started going for a more minimalist approach to running a couple of months ago, took  a while for my calves to get used to it and got really bad cramp after one run (my own fault for not stretching).

Moving to midfoot strinking has really helped improve my running form and pace, everything has been positive so can't give you any horror stories but I can imagine a few people will be able to.

07/09/2012 at 13:29

For context, I run 10-30 miles a week depending on how much mountain biking I do.

I think as long as you realise that minimal running needs a different foot strike (flat or preferably forefoot), then it's just as safe as any other running, provided you listen to your body in the same way you would normally.

I'm including some forefoot strike into my training, not least because of mixing up the muscle groups so that it's not the same muscles being used in the same way in every training session, much like doing a mix of road and off road for the same reason. Switching to it exclusively seems a bit extreme to me, unless you have been doing it all your life (unlikely unless you live without shoes).

Contrary to advice on the web, I just started doing it in my normal 12mm drop trainers, with a few hundred meters in the middle of my runs. Then I tried a mile and that was ok. Then 2 miles and that was ok. Naturally confidence got the better of me and I tried a 4 mile and that was too far - I felt a little niggle after 3 miles and should have switched back at that point, but daftly continued. I had to take a week off running after that while dormant muscles on the outside of my calves recovered.

I then spent 2 weeks on a camping holiday where it was 0.3 miles from the tent to the pool / lake / shops, so I jogged that completely barefoot a few times a day. It felt so natural with forefoot strike. With shoes on in the mornings, I happily did a 4 mile off road and then a 6 mile feeling good afterwards.

Whilst I still don't have any real minimal shoes, I now have some Adios2s for speed work (and hopefully racing - working up to using them on 13 and then 26 miles), which are really stiff at the front, to avoid injury when my feet get too tired and can't land properly on the toes.

I have traditional shoes for longer road distances when I'm heel striking and am looking around for some minimal shoes for slow long distance off road forefoot strike (am thinking Brooks Puregrit).

As you can see, the mix of styles starts to get a bit pricey on the footwear

No actual injuries yet over a few months of trying the forefoot strike - just some expected soreness in new muscle groups. Forefoot strike with high cadence makes a lot sense to me and watching the olympics, all the top distance runners are doing this in race conditions. But it has to be a slow introduction, like learning to walk all over again

08/09/2012 at 06:25

Done a few more runs in the vevo's and still love them.  Did 2 miles last night.  It just feels good running in them even on tarmac.  I'm still wondering if anybody has tried barefoot/minimalist running and didn't like the sensation.  You only ever read positive anecdotes about it.

PSC    pirate
08/09/2012 at 06:56
Edited: 08/09/2012 at 06:58
08/09/2012 at 10:32
Gee Bee 2 wrote (see)

Done a few more runs in the vevo's and still love them.  Did 2 miles last night.  It just feels good running in them even on tarmac.  I'm still wondering if anybody has tried barefoot/minimalist running and didn't like the sensation.  You only ever read positive anecdotes about it.


the negative about minimalist footware is that your foot is no longer in contact with the ground as it is when you go real-barefoot, blocking out sensory information - have you considered going completely barefoot?

I started about 2 months ago and one of the first things you start doing is running with a higher cadence (reminded me of someone running on hot-coals!) - over the weeks my running form has improved dramatically, no more heel striking is my main reason for starting

I put on a pair of Vibram Five Fingers (Bikila) which is as minimalist as you will get and even though these shoes are great for running on dirt tracks where there are stones etc., they dramatically reduce what I can feel with my foot, so I will remain barefoot at other times

you can strain lower leg muscles running minimalist or barefoot and if you still run with bad form you will encounter problems (esp. if you heel strike). I find as soon as something goes on my feet I heel strike, almost never running barefoot - the only way to be sure is to video yourself running - do some lower-leg strength training, esp. achilles

So there are negatives - but when you are starting out start barefoot and learn good running form, then switch to minimalist (if you must) this way your feet will coach you

Good Luck!

Love the video PSC, nearly fell of my chair watching that. Cheers




Edited: 08/09/2012 at 10:36
08/09/2012 at 12:09

PSC - that's hilarious!

08/09/2012 at 13:36
Love the video, that's what I want, some negativity to balance out my new found enthusiasm.
09/11/2012 at 21:14
Just a quick note for those who might find this thread later - while I agree that any form of covering for your sole will 'dampen' the ground feel, Bikilas are not "as minimalist as you can get". Their sole is considerably thicker and more textured than Classics, KSOs or Sprints. If you're looking for ground feel, I'd suggest going for one of those three. Although it's not exactly the same as being totally barefoot, they're the closest in the FiveFingers range.
10/11/2012 at 11:02

I do a little barefoot (no shoes) up and down my very smoothly tarmacd road (up to 1 mile). Our feet aren't designed to run on tarmac, but this stuff is more tar than gravel. However, all the locals have been cutting their hawthorn hedges so part of the route is now impassible barefoot. My wife was running by them with her Salamon XA Pros on and one of the hawthorns went right through the midsole and into her foot. eep. Would not have been cool with no shoes or minimals!

10/11/2012 at 12:04
My vivos have got a keflon lining. My bike tyres have the same and I've done 3000 miles in them without a puncture.
10/11/2012 at 12:09

I've dabbled with barefoot and minimal shoes,

Minimalistically I've run in cheap (£5) surf shoes, can't see any reason for paying £100.

I shredded my feet trying barefoot running on the road, so switched to running on the beach. On wet sand I've avoided any major blisters, longest run was 11 mile as part of a 50 mile barefoot week.

And apart from blister from the roads I have had no other problems.

But I mainly just stick to my racing flats.

Edited: 10/11/2012 at 12:13
13/11/2012 at 14:45

Funny video

I've got some merrells and the only problem i had was being too enthusiastic and killing my calves!


13/11/2012 at 17:47

i tried it with VFF's a few years ago (i was a beginner to running too), went in to quick, too much too soon and got injured, after a few years i had improved my form a lot, and was running in a much more minimal 4mm drop shoe for almost all my miles, when i tried barefoot again it felt fine and natural and ive ran almost exclusivly in zero drop shoes since, i'm much faster than i was before and my muscles feel better the day after too, although i;m still not quit back upto my long run distances (18-22 miles) and currently only doing 16 on my long days.

I find it hard to run slowly in them because as i slow down my form gets sloppy and i will heel strike, if i keep my pace up i have good form.

my trail/tow path/road shoes are merrell trail gloves

my road only/race shoes are NB minimus Zero 

Edited: 13/11/2012 at 17:50
13/11/2012 at 22:08

I've worked up from almost zero to 50-mile trail race in VB Neo (trail version for the 50). Don't try to do too much too soon. If you get calf aches as you increase mileage then I suggest self-massage of the calves evening and morning (worked for me). I change to minimalist shoes deliberately to change my running style, and it's worked. As a bonus, VB shoes are wide enough in the forefoot for me.

Yes I got injured soon after I started, but I don't blame the shoes, rather myself for doing something stupid (walking and running around London pavements carrying nearly 1/4 of my body weight in a backpack) then not resting when my foot hurt...

26/11/2012 at 01:05


I've been running with VFF's for about 4 months now, I have the komodosport and so far i've experienced no problem with them.  I'm no long-distance runner (yet!) , just yesterday I did my first 9 mile /15 km run with the VFF's and I can't say i don't love them!

probably my only concern with them (i'm not sure if i'd have it with other shoes though....) is that in really bad roads, if you dont pay atention you can twist your ankle really easily     or maybe that's just me for celebrating mid-run  

29/11/2012 at 12:11

I started using Merrell Trail Gloves in the spring. Started with walking every where in them before moving up to do 1 mile runs on a treadmill. Moved outside and gradually upped to 4 mile runs by August. That's when it all went a bit wrong. I have a old lower back problem that now and then manifests if I'm standing in a bad posture for too long.  It flared up when I was hunched over for a couple of hours building a BBQ. It causes me sciatic irritation down my right side. So that put me out of action for a week or so. I did my first run after this with a couple of fast guys and got pulled along a little too hard plus there were still issues with my sciatic nerve that meant I ran putting too much pressure on the outside edge of my right foot. Had some pain so waited a week before running again in "traditional" running shoes, again this was probably too soon. It's taken up until a week or so ago for the pain in my foot to go (it was bad in the morning and evening)

I've been wearing trainers with extra padding around the affected area over this period which seems to have helped over come the soft tissue damage and I'm back to running in "normal" shoes again but only 2 or 3 miles. I will move back to minimalist shoes but I think I may invest in some Nike Frees to go with the Merrells for longer runs.

I was a big heel striker before which I put down to the fact that my glutes were weak due to working in an office all my life. I've worked them by doing deep, arse to ground squats and also worked hard on hamstrings. The Merrells certainly changed my running style for the better I think in that I don't heel strike as much but you need to be carefull. Just one small mistake and I was out for practically 3 months.

29/11/2012 at 13:02

Does anyone have any experience with Vivobarefoot trainers? And if so, which? Just noticed they're reduced on sportspursuit this wek, and I could be pretty tempted to try a pair.

Currently use Nike Frees, but I'd like to get something with less drop and closer to barefoot. These vivo look like they might be a cheap way to try that, maybe as a precursor to getting some VFF.

Any thoughts?

Edited: 29/11/2012 at 13:03
29/11/2012 at 22:44
I've got a pair of Neos and Breatho Trail. I find them both very comfortable now. The sensation in either is much the same. Took a short while for my feet and calves to adjust to running increasingly front foot. In them my heel's pretty much never touch the ground. Very secure but wide across the toe box so your feet can move about. You do get a good sensation of the ground, but feel protected from it. The sensation is much more pronounced than the Nike Frees. I only go about 5-6 miles or so in them, but never had any soreness or problems. I also much prefer them over anything else if on a treadmill. Speedwork is also fine. I'm no barefoot fanatic (that said I've ordered some Inov8 Evoskins cheap, which are just silicone socks), but they do offer a new experience. In and off themselves they are a very good running shoe, whether or not you want to go for something increasingly minimalist down the line.
Edited: 29/11/2012 at 22:49
01/12/2012 at 16:40

Minamalist sucks. Maximalist all the way.

Bring out the Hokas..

Only my opinion of course.

Still got my FF's and they make great surf shoes.

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