barefoot running


 I am planning on taking a little stray from regular runnnig and try out barefoot running... it sound strange I know but those of you who know what I am talking about will hopefully be able to bare with me... anyhows I am looking to purchase some barefoot running shoes

 here is a link of what the look like,r:2,s:0

 as I am new to this I have no experience in the sport nore the gear is anyone able to let me know if there is anything i should know before purchasing these shoes and where the best place to either get information about them or buy them is?

thanks, image



  • There are loads of threads on this gear forum about choosing barefoot shoes. Try a quick search and you should get plenty of info. Also the US version of the Runners World site has a dedicated barefoot forum. There are also loads of barefoot running blogs which go into great detail about 'shoes'. Google is your friend on this one.

    You say you have no experience in this sport, so I'm slightly curious why you immediately want to try barefoot. I would suggest that you can get yourself in a real mess injury-wise without a good understanding of traditional running technique in the first instance.

    Plenty of very experienced runners give themselves injuries by leaping into barefoot running without proper preparation and gradual conversion of their technique, so worth being cautious. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

  • In fact, there is a thread halfway down this very section called Best Barefoot Running Shoes?

    You could start there, I suspect

  • Okay thanks for that I'll have a look at them...

     However I don't understand your question " You say you have no experience in this sport, so I'm slightly curious why you immediately want to try barefoot. I would suggest that you can get yourself in a real mess injury-wise without a good understanding of traditional running technique in the first instance"

     I think you missunderstood me, I have done regular running I am not completely new to running I want to try barefoot for the simple reason that I have never done and thus I want to learn how, sorry I don't get what your getting at?

  • Sorry, misunderstood your original post... Good luck with the barefoot.
  • Hi Steve,

    My advice before you start buying expensive minimalist shoes is to find a grassy field and do some laps purely barefoot. Start with 10 minutes, then try 15 . . etc. 

    While you're doing this, use a transition shoe for your longer runs (but not to long!). The way I did it was to buy some racing flats and cut some of the heel off. They still have padding but there is virtually no arch support or motion control. Also they weigh less than 200 g. After a month or so as you get stronger then you can either get an expensive minimalist shoe or buy a dirt-cheap pair of shoes from tesco which are flat with little padding but will stop you from impaling yourself on a sharp rock.

    The initial barefoot part is very import though and while you're doing it listen to your body very carefully for any sensory feed-back. Make sure youre form is perfect.

     Here are some tips for your form:

    1) make sure you're landing on your forefoot with your knees bent
    2)make sure your back is straight
    3)make sure you take little steps (it will feel rediculously small at first) that land almost directly below your centre of gravity
    4)try to kick your feet back a bit after each stroke

    A useful Phrase to remember is "Easy, Light, Smooth, Fast". i.e. Concentrate on making your new form feel natural, even if it's slow. Once you've got the hang of that concentrate on making your step light. Then concentrate on running on a horizontal line so that your neck and head don't go up and down as you run. If you can master all that you'll be fast already. (If you've read born to run you'll know it already. If you haven't read it buy it now.) 

     I hope you find this useful and not to long-winded.

     Good luck and HAVE FUN!



  • Born to run is a great read and everything you need to know is in there!

     Im very tempted to try bare foot and have noticed nike make a shoe called free run 2, but im not sure if its just nike jumping on the band wagon and trying to make some easy money!

  • Robert - that's great advice and I would concur with everything you have said. After I read Born to Run I wanted to go out and buy a pair of Merrell or VFFs immediately but thankfully I calmed down a bit and decided it made far more sense to see if BF running is for me or if I actually need my stacked up heel Asics!

    And Daniel - I think Nike are definitely jumping on the band wagon but so are all the major running shoe manufacturers. They have all either released a 'minimalist' shoe or are in the process of doing so. 

     What is encouraging is the increasing number of people showing an increase in BF running. Maybe one day soon it won't be seen as odd seeing runners in VFFs or similar. A guy was wearing huaraches at a recent 10k  trail run I was taking part in and I swear people were giving him a wide berth! 


  • I also think Nike are jumping on the bandwagon! But they are a commercial company and rightly or wrongly, they need to progress to keep going and keep surviving. Seeing as it was they that came up with the Cortez and built up shoes it does seem a bit ironic but I'd imagine they have put in some research into the shoe so am going to try their TR+ Free range (more barefoot then the Free 2.0s) but need to wait for an injury to recover first! I then will progress onto the Vivos or Merrells (want to say Vibrams but they are just that bit too expensive for me).

    I can't see any other mid-way shoe which would work as I want to downgrade slowly rather then all in one go, currently wearing Asics Max support (Foundation 9s) and will need to reduce the support gradually, Nike Free TR+ seemed to work for me when I did a trial a few months back and test drove them on a hour run, must have done something right as I had little if any pain and shins were SO TIGHT! Normally when running I do not ever get tight shins like that but prob b/c I normally run with a heelstrike and not a mid or forefoot strike as I seemed to be able to do with the Nikes.

    I do feel a bit of an idiot though wearing 'Nike' branded shoes to run barefoot when infact it was Nike themselves who seemed to start off the anti-barefoot trend with the Cortez!

  • tricia -  I'm guessing the BF tryout went well then?

    jenn - i've shared your experience with the tight shins. After my first proper run after transitioning to forefoot running my calves were BURNING! I had to take a day off because i could hardly walk let alone run. I've been out every day since though and it does get better.

    tricia and jenn both seem to have moved to a more minimal approach from ascics which are arguably one of the more bulky shoe. I came from wearing Saucony Triumphs which are the thickest of the Saucony range. I wonder if theres a some corrolation somewhere.

  • Robert: still not with the more minimal Asics yet...not so much out of choice more a financial thing! I am also nursing an injury (diagnosed yesterday as a tibial stress fracture!) I want to more onto a more minimal shoe but will probably wait for that to recover then its onto the Nike Frees (TR+) which I see as more minimal then what I have now, but not exactly barefoot. At the moment I am in Fondation 9s which are one of their maximum support trainers with only the Evolution 6s as the next minor step up making that shoe as maximum support as they offer (I actually wanted these when they first came out but couldn't afford them- glad I didn't get them or I'd be kicking myself right now!)

    I think the best thing with the tight shins was a good old fashioned stretch which killed but I held out for 2 mins per stretch, did 4 different calf stretches 2 quad stretches then repeated again for 1 min. followed by the normal ITB and lower back/hamstring stretches. I had slight aches the next day but was fine so if you do get this again, stretching for longer then usual (normally I do 1 min on each pose) could be something to try?

  • I have been running in VFF's (Bikila ls) for a couple of weeks now - alternating with my NIKE lunar racers. They were a b-day present, so did not have to worry about cost image

    Was a tough first couple of sessions, especially on the calves, but am really starting to float now.

    Not sure how physicological  this is, after having also read Born to run, but I would I recommend them for the purposes of moving from the infamous heel strike.... although I wont be running a marathon in them anytime soon!

  • I think the Bikila's your describing sound like more of a transition pair - a bit like the Innov8 range where you reduce and reduce and reduce with each shoe until your at the most minimal.

     The idea with the minimal and shock aborbtion is that it comes from your own body: your feet learn to "see" the concrete/mud/whatever and so tells the rest of your body to cooperate and so your knees for example spring a bit more to take the pressue, its all about your body doing the work that your shoes would normally do. This would mean your body takes alot more stress but at the same time you learn where your limits are and learn to listen to your body and so prevent injury. I'd be wary of any sort of rubber doing this job for you as your body can end up not realising the impact its still experiencing.

     I think some have suggested Vibrams last 200 miles but others have said they last years. You have to remember that these shoes have no foamy rubber: the very part of the trainer which (if built up) would require you change your shoes every 6-ish months.

  • Being that anyone can sell anything from their own home on ebay, I don't think Vibram can make a statement like this! If I had a pair and they didn't fit or didn't work out for me and I was unable to get my money back from the seller (lost recipet, no-refunds policy, worn too often to return, got a bargain and think I can make money by selling them on for example) I'd go straight to ebay and sell them there. I think many others would do the same.

    I don't think Vibram can say "no pairs" on ebay are genuine but I think what they do mean is the people who they stock to (and so are verified sellers) do not sell their stock on ebay, the stuff on there being sold by traders selling mass-stocks is likely to be dubious, either stolen, "fallen off the back of a lorry" or fake. I can see what they're getting at but they haven't done so well describing it! With ebay, much of the time its a case of "you live you learn" and I think we've all been there or know of someone who has in one way or another, all part of life and gives you a tale to tell in the pub!

     I am not suprized you haven't had any injuries going barefoot/minimalist: Barefoot ted gave a talk in London a few weeks back, really interesting. Its on youtube at the mo if you want to check it out, he spoke about shock absorbtion: when you run barefoot, your body works differently, your form changes and so you don't really require the shock absorbtion: simple advice: if it aint broke, don't fix it! I'd say unless you have an injury and are hell bent on using products to sort you out, ignore the shock absorbing barefoot types: your body wont be learning anything from them by you swapping your normal shoes for them.

  • I've been running in a pair of VFF KSO for about a month now and love them. You really have to take it easy but i find it far more enjoyable than being shod.

    I'd recommend checking out the US runners world forum as they have a Barefoot forum where they will tell you to start off barefooted rather than in a minimalist shoe as this gives you better form. Personally i did a bit barefoot but felt a bit less mental by wearing VFFs, although they did cost a fortune!

    The idea behind barefoot/minimal makes sense to me, we weren't born with rubber on our feet so why start now?!
  • Ive got VFF Bilka's, VFF Sprints and Merrell foot gloves. I personally think the foot gloves are vastly superior and better value for money.

    I personally would only buy VFF from authorized dealers, I have seen some very good fakes but the material used for the sole is not correct and you notice this when you run in them.
  • A review I did of the Vivo Barefoot NEO I recently got.
  • I too am attempting barefoot running, having learned to walk on hard surfaces first (paving slabs, tarmac etc).  The soles of my feet are like leather now and not at all sensitive as they once were.  Am not using any minimalist / VFF shoes at all, as I want to be able to run as nature intended us to (presumably).

    I did make the mistake of too big a stride and that hurt my calves and my achilles tendon in my R leg.  That has all calmed down now.  I will take Robert Crussell's advice about LITTLE steps and a straight back.  This may well have been where I went wrong, and got discouraged easily.  Having watched a video on YouTube depicting a Tarahumara Indian running barefoot, his stride was much more like a shuffle, with minimal raising of the feet but with knees still bent. 

    Any further tips would be most welcome.  

  • I'm now 4 months in to my barefoot transition and finally have no shin or calf discomfort after up to 10k running.

    The first month was the worst. After just 1k barefoot on a running machine my lower calves were really sore. Once I added about 2k to my run and paid for it!

    As of today I am ditching my old running shoes and will be 100% minimalist or barefoot from now on!

    So yes take it really really slowly otherwise you will have a bad experience.
  • I love my Merrell trailgloves. I used them for most of my runs in the summer and early autumn, and ended up wearing them most of the time I was not running too. They look nice, and despite how much I used them there is no wear ye. My feet are very happy with them. I have not been near twisting my ankle in them (which I usually do on a regular basis). They protect the toes from rocks which is essential for someone as clumsy as me. Perfect for dry trails and multiterrain, protective enough for short distances on road. Unfortunately, they just don't cope well with mud so they have taken a break for the winter. It took me no time at all to adjust to them and to running completely barefoot on the beach.

    Since I started running in these my usual achilles pain completely disappeared. Before that I was making attempts to land on my heels which was not natural for me. I think it is important to run in a way that feels good for you, and if you are a forefoot runner like me trailgloves are excellent and cheaper than five fingers. If you tend to land hard on your heels and do a lot of road-miles I would find something else.
  • I've spent days trawling web sites trying to get info on the best shoes to use for transitioning to barefoot... I've given up. I'm going straight into it tomorrow, no transition, what the hell.

  • Simon Willard wrote (see)
    I've spent days trawling web sites trying to get info on the best shoes to use for transitioning to barefoot... I've given up. I'm going straight into it tomorrow, no transition, what the hell.

    You really need someone to give you instructions?

    The idea is you go slow! Its slow as in 200m at a time slow and this is if you don't want to rupture your achillies.

    I hope you have a good physio on hand if your planning to "go straight in no transition". I don't like to critic others as I feel everyone finds what works for them if they 'listen' to their body and stop when they feel pain etc but mate, this is a very daft idea! I would start off slow. VERY slow and it could take months to get yourself to a level where your barefoot running proper distances.

    Have you read the Born To Run book at all?

  • No. I haven't. But i was being flippant.

    As I never run road so don't need the cushioning I'm carrying around in my Saucony Progrids, have narrowed down to:

    Adidas Adizero XT - just to keep things normal until I've done my first half-marathon in March.

    Then, Saucony Kinvara 2 or Brooks Pure Connect, both of which I've just tried out and I have to say they feel great!

  • Simon Willard wrote (see)
    No. I haven't. But i was being flippant.

    As I never run road so don't need the cushioning I'm carrying around in my Saucony Progrids, have narrowed down to:

    Adidas Adizero XT - just to keep things normal until I've done my first half-marathon in March.

    Then, Saucony Kinvara 2 or Brooks Pure Connect, both of which I've just tried out and I have to say they feel great!

    Whew! Thats slightly less worrying- I had visions of you attempting half-marathon like runs on pavements in a pair of vibrams!

    I only run on a treadmill (the roads are too painful on my knees as I have cartilidge damage which sadly is made worse by hard surfaces). I wear Nike Free TR+ Fit trainers (thinnest Nike soles and very flexible). I found that I had to start off slow and build it up as my calves got the most amazing cramp known to my body as a result of not starting off slow.

    I wasn't even wearing Vibrams or actually going bare foot (and I have tried that too- would recommend it to anyone starting off as it really is very different to any type of trainers- even Virbams!) Its easy to think your body will just adjust and it'll all be fine if you just take away the cushioning...but years of conditioning ourselves to landing heel first takes a lot of undoing and its easier to run with a heel strike and learn to ignore/'breathe' through any pain and so end up with all sorts of impact damage. Starting off slow isn't only just to allow your body to become used to the new format but also to ensure you don't become tierd and fall back into old ways of doing things, eg running with a heel strike.

    Common problems and methods in terms of starting off all do exist on the US Runners World forum where barefoot style running is a big deal over there and has more of a cult following and when you see the difference in cost for the footware, you'll probably have your own thoughts as to why!

  • And this has all started me thinking.

    I have two samll children, 2 & 5. Maybe I should be paying more attention to their footwear as well rather than slavishly taking them to Clarks and Jones every 3 months.

    But I guess that's for another forum.

    I ran 3 minutes in each of the Kinvara and Connect yesterday on a treadmill and immediately felt the strain in my calves. Still feeling it this-morning.

    Mentioning price difference between UK and US for barefoot shoes (tortology or paradox?) teh chap in teh shop mentioned they were having real difficulty getting stock over here, especially in large sizes of 10 and up. Maybe the americans are deliberately restricting supplies into the UK to maintain a premium price for a stripped out product?

    In essence though, i think yesterday taught me a valuable lesson early on - take it easy.
  • By the way, i was considering Nike Free trail editions, but I understand the soles are no good in mud.
  • Dear SW, I would recommend getting into a more midfoot strike very gradually! I tried to up mileage too soon and then had to have a few weeks off with sore Achilles and I don't want you to suufer the same fate! I am running in Brooks Green Silence and find it to be a good transitioning shoe as they are quite flat but still have a bit of cushioning underfoot. I also went up a size to give my toes a bit more space. Sportshoes are doing them for £35 I think. The Frees are popular but you are right about the lack of grip. Have a look at the NB MT101's and the soon to be released MT110's for your offroad forays.
  • I have a pair of saucony kinvara 2's, my regular shoes are saucony Omni 10's - Achilles strain real issue if you delve into too fast! But would still recommend the Kinvara's but bear in mind that Saucony have just released the Guide 5's which have an 8mm heel drop and are therefore a transition between the "normal" running shoes and the Kinvara's - I believe they a zero drop shoe called the Hattori

    So I guess they now have a complete range of transition shoes if one has the available funds image superb corporate strategy, finding a way to sell 4 pairs of running shoes in less time than you can wear out one pair!

    I'm just going to try and ease into it on short tempo runs and maybe some speed work for now BUT no more 4+ milers just yet, lesson learned!
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