New runner and vibrams

Advice needed for new runner wearing barefoot vibrams

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06/05/2010 at 22:03

Hi all,

 need to pick your brains, my friend is starting out running and really wants to run in the barefoot Vibrams, her aim is to run a marathon next year and is starting out in the vibrams.

any advice/tips gratefully appreciated, I have offered to help her train but I have no experience of barefoot running. I have already been told that she needs to slow down and keep the run splits short to give the calf muscles a chance to strengthen and get used to forefoot striking.  any other helpful advice?


cougie    pirate
06/05/2010 at 22:09
Definitely keep to short stuff. If it was me I'd get used to walking in them first and then run only on grass for a good while.
I'm not convinced though - barefoot may be fine for running on soil - but not tarmac and concrete - that's why my shoes are padded.
06/05/2010 at 22:24
Agree with Cougie.
Manmade surfaces need manmade shoes.
If running barefoot, or equivalent, running should be on natural, soft surfaces.
06/05/2010 at 22:42

Ginger here's a thread all about VFFs

Contrary to popular opinion some folks do run barefoot on tarmac - without injury... Barefoot Ken Bob is one. The barefoot brigade's more taken off in the US than here.

VFFs are showing up at marathons more now which is nice. I'm an ambassador for the monkey feet; i work, run and play in mine

cougie    pirate
06/05/2010 at 22:44
I don't doubt that some people can run barefoot on concrete - but the average runner ? Maybe I'm too hefty for them ?
06/05/2010 at 22:49

I have to say the idea of them isn't for me, but then I have a double spinal injury and other problems resulting from that.  The thought of pounding pavement for hours on end without half a tonne of cushioning isn't for me, but my friend is really keen to try these and obviously wants to make sure she starts out properly.


06/05/2010 at 22:59



Don't ramp up the mileage too soon - start out steady, building mileage sensibly.

I speak from experience.

I've never worn VFF's yet I trained (13 miles longest distance and general 6/7 milers daily) in very stripped back, minimalist Nike track shoes for a good while whilst forefoot striking (this is natural for me though but just thought I'd mention it since you did in your OP) and wound up breaking one of the delicate bones in my feet. Very painful and very frustrating.

Take it easy. They work for some people, but not for others IMO.

I guess just suck it and see.

Can't believe I used that phrase.

I hate that phrase.

06/05/2010 at 23:01
Devoted2Distance wrote (see)
Can't believe I used that phrase.

I hate that phrase.

What, "take it easy"?
cougie    pirate
06/05/2010 at 23:02
Lol !
06/05/2010 at 23:03

ho ho.


suck it and see.

it's terribly suggestive.

in a bad way. 

Rc.    pirate
06/05/2010 at 23:17

 Another phrase I suppose you could look into the meaning of : Practice what you preach...

Might come in handy for you..just a hunch mind

06/05/2010 at 23:24

guys can we avoid this turning into another D2D farce   I'm trying to talk my mate into joining the forum and if you lot don't play nicely ...........

 moving swiftly on

 vibrams.... advice and experiences please

06/05/2010 at 23:30

so this isn't going to be a me me me thread?


i'm going to cry into my pink grapefruit yoghurt.

Rc.    pirate
07/05/2010 at 00:11

Drop into the thread Siance linked to GL some tips in there. Dr Dan has done some decent miles in the Vibrams (500) I think but he was a forefoot striker before the Vffs.

I used them and still do but only up to about 7 miles is my longest. Mainly because I didnt have the patience to build up the miles in them. From my point of view they help me with my form as you definatley have to concentrate more in them but they do take some building up with.

My first couple of weeks I ran on grass in them no more than like 2 miles a night. Calfs seized for the first few times I went out but then I think I was over thinking and trying to run on my toes. Once I relaxed and let my feet find their own way it felt very easy to run in them. Get some decent calf stretching done as well.

I think definatley run on grass to start and if your friend can run barefoot on grass to get a feel for how the foot naturally falls. As I put I have taken them to 7 miles but others on the VFF thread have more miles, but Im not sure if that is a case of the vibrams or being a forefoot runner. One other thing I noticed is my cadence goes upto 195-200 in the vibrams where as Im a 175-180 in the normal shoes.

HTH a little anyway and good luck to your friend

07/05/2010 at 07:09

I have a pair and have used them a few times now. First couple of runs, my calves ached enormously the day after. Soon calmed down.

I've run on roads, grass and a beach in them and FWIW, I'll probably use tham as a once-a week type thing i.e I won't do all my running in them but I see them as something useful to give the feet a different set of stresses every now and then.

Like cougie, I think doing serious mileage on them is likely to lead to serious injury unless you get used to them very, very slowly, and I'm thinking at least a year to get to that. But I don't think it's for me.

07/05/2010 at 09:53

get your friend to check out the "Barefoot" forum on the US site www.runnersworld.COM loads of advice & getting started guides there.

One of the things some suggest is doing some actual barefoot running on hard surfaces, very short distances, the feedback through the direct contact of your soles on the ground gives better feedback for adjusting your style to help the transition to VFFs.

I have just made my own huaraches and usually run in minimal beach shoes rather than VFFs, do try the occasional barefoot on the path outside the house and feel it helps.  Hard flat manmade surfaces are absolutely gorgeous in minimal shoes even with my less than perfect technique

07/05/2010 at 10:14

Hi Loonie   *waves*

I really like mine, but like Cougie said, personally I wouldn't take them out on concrete but would accept that some people probably can get away with it.  I run with them on grass, woodland trail or sand and love the security that a spiky stone or a bit of glass won't be an issue, yet have the feel of barefoot running.

Initially they really caned by calves but that soom settled down.

I would advise to start to walk in them first and for the first runs not to be longer than gentle 15-20mins.

I guess how drastic the change depends on her own gait.  I came to Vibrams to get away from heel striking, so for me the change was drastic, hence the caution.  A natural forefoot runner may not feel it's such a change from the norm.

For me the real benefits were to develop more rear leg strength, develop a healthier gait, develop more ankle ligament strength.

I like mine.    Despite the fact that Calfie laughs at me and calls them my "weird feet". 

07/05/2010 at 11:07

500+ miles in them so far in 2010, virtually all on tarmac, including runs up to 22 miles. I'll be running the Chester marathon in them later this month. It's all about running correctly and trainign sensibly ... if they help you to do this then they'll be good for you. If. They're not magic.

A thread all about VFFs .

07/05/2010 at 13:11
I'd agree with what the others have said about take it easy, having personally got a bit too enthusiastic and suffered the consequences.
I'd disagree with the start with soft surface stuff though. Tarmac and hard surfaces are your friend as you get instant feedback as to if your feet are landing softly. Maybe first also try something like a feelmax shoe, as the VFFs you can still get away with landing hard and not realise till it's too late
Edited: 07/05/2010 at 13:11
07/05/2010 at 23:48

It's really unusual to hear of someone starting out running in VFFs... They tend to appeal to real running freaks, that have *plenty* of mileage running as a FF striker beforehand. Your friend will need to build up mileage extremely slowly - and I mean extremely. I would also suggest visiting the gym and using the various leg machines - as well as achilles strengthening exercises with a step etc (google for them).

The biggest danger your friend has is underestimating the task that awaits her. If she understands that she has months of work before she puts in any serious mileage, she will have the bonus of developing a sound technique from scratch, without falling into bad habits. If she doesn't...well, that would be a fast track to injury - as others have said. 

Why not start out in some conventional flat-soled shoes that are for FF striking and move onto VFFs? 

edited to say that my post doesn't really add anything new to the thread - I just wanted to reiterate what others have said - your friend really has a lot of conditioning work to do.

Edited: 07/05/2010 at 23:51
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