Any barefoot/minimalist shoe runners out there

I'm doing my dissertation on Barefoot running and wondered if there are many UK runners out there who go barefoot or wear minimalist footwear like Vibrams?

And are there any UK races where you'd be likely to find a good number of you?

Any replies would be greatly appreciated image



  • there was a 5k (I think) barefoot race in Stanmer Park, Brighton this summer, not sure how many took part but google should help

    usually one barefoot and one vibram wearer at Brighton and Hove parkrun

    not much help if you live in Carlisle though 

    I do a few laps of my local park in my socks, not sure that counts

  • I run mostly in vffs and other minimal shoes but I'm not really particularly competitive as I don't get a buzz from training so tend to avoid it if at all possible image
    There was a bloke organising a 5k/barefoot minimal race in Milton Keynes a few months back. He might have some ideas.
  • I've just started doing barefoot sessions at my local track.  I'm trying to do at least 1 session / week and have covered up to 5k on a visit.

     I am quite pleased with things so far.  I got a little bit of doms in my calves after my first session but no other aches or pains since then.  My pace for perceived effort seems much faster than when wearing shoes but I don't know whether this is because I'm on the track, or because my focus is different.  I'm contemplating using gaffer tape to fix my footpod to the top of my foot so that I can look at any changes in cadence.

    It's hard to get to the track more than once a week and so far I've been road running as a warm up and to get there so I haven't been as scientific as perhaps I should.  I have also struggled to find any minimalist shoes in my size and am reluctant to buy online.  I work away a lot and my next step will be to find a track or grass field to use for barefoot running when I'm away.  If anyone can recommend a venue in Aberdeen I'd be grateful.

  • I run in VFF's although i have done bits of barefooting and will be taking the vibrams off after i've done the Great South Run. I used to suffer from knee and back pain but these have all disappeared as a result of minimal running.

    I was at the MK 5k in september, there were only 9 of us!! They did one in brighton for international barefoot day this year that was well attended so i was told and they are doing the same again next year. Apart from that i don't know of any specific events.

    There is a few uk runners who hang around on the US RW forum heres the uk thread:
    and the mk race report:
    It was organised by Martyn at

    hope this is of some help
  • I've just joined the UK Forums, and have started running barefoot recently, with the aim to stop after this coming weekend. I'd be happy to share my experiences.
  • Thank you very much, this is all very useful and I have to say i'm being won over by BFR I may consider making the switch once my new trainers have done their time.



  • Another minimal shoe, VFF and occassional barefoot runner here image

    Working my way up to longer distances and so far it's suiting me better than cushioned stability shoes.

  • Helen,

    I've run barefoot on and off for a couple of years.

    If you can be a little more specific I might be able to help you; I have quite a lot of data from our barefoot running survey.  Feel free to message me.


  • After reading the fantastic Born to Run, I will have a pair of Saucony Kinvara's on order in the New Year. Really looking forward to it!
  • Hi Helen, I have a left knee cartilage injury, and as such have been forefoot running for a while. But it wasn't until I recently bought a pair of Inov8 Evoskins that I got a bit closer to the tarmac!
    They are a bit strange to look at, weider than VFFs, but the idea is the same, each toe has its own box, and there is a small strap going over the top of the foot. Other than that its just a thin layer of silicon between you and the ground.
    I have not suffered any pain by running forefoot, despite various doctors saying that I should give it all up and try something else (which I did for a year - cycled from JoG to LE !!).

    So if you need any further info I'm happy to supply you with it. Today I did my longest run in the Evo's - 4.5m. I'd been previously building up with some racing flats and got to 5m before I bought the Evo's and I've been slowly building up the mileage with them.

    Hope all goes well!

  • I have been running now for about four months, on and off. I'm forty and not
    unfit, having to pass a regular' fitness test' for my job but have never run for fun, just doing it when I had to.
    To cut a long story short I realised it would be harder to stay fit the older i got and started running. Then stopped.
    The reason I stopped was shin splints, don't know if it was compartmental syndrome, micro fractures or any other of the recognised symptoms, I just know
    it hurt. Bad. Tried to run through it, 3k every day , but it got to the point I literally could not walk, the pain subsided a few minutes into the run,
    or was forgotten due to greater pains in other places but afterwards I was in agony.
    I'm bowlegged, overpronate and generally run like I'm a new born giraffe. Heel drops etc. helped ,physio from a running specialist helped . A little.
    Then I looked into minimalist running, realised I was generally a heel striker and decided to change.
    This was about two months ago. I started with Newton shoes that made me run differently, they quite literally made me change my gait by their design. About two weeks ago I started running exclusively in new balance minimus and it's a revelation.
    My calves are on fire after every run which lasts an hour or so but calf soreness is a world away from the feeling someone has hit my shins with a baseball bat.
    I haven't been running long enough to notice if I'm faster or slower, i can run a difficult 5k in 22mins( difficult because you have to run up a steep hill for first mile whichever way i turn)I feel slower using shorter quicker s
    on an individual run, but I can now run every day so I am getting faster all the time. I have just entered my first 10k in Feb and doing a half in may as motivation, but don't need it, I'm actually enjoying running for the sake of running.
    I realise and in fact stress the point that what works for me doesn't work f
    or everyone, but I recommend trying it to anyone suffering from pain and considering quitting running.

  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Im a natural midfoot/forefoot striker, I run in minimalist shoes sometimes (merrell trail gloves) I also run real barefoot when the surface permits. Im currently doing runs of 15 miles+ in minimalist shoes with no transitioning time required or discomfort. My very first run in minimalist shoes was 11 miles. This is the 'natural' way my biometrics function, I think its stupid to mess with your biometrics as we are not all made the same way, one size does not suit all.

    The barefoot enthusiast community by large state things which they can not back up with scientific evidence of any sort. They fail to recognise that some people naturally heal strike no matter if wearing Vibrams or completely barefoot, they assume you transition to midfoot striking.
    They also forget that no evidence has ever been produced which proves without a doubt that you have a higher chance of injury heal striking or wearing running shoes.

    The podiatry profession has noticed an increase in stress fractures since minimalist running has become popular, this is a fact which is often overlooked.

    One of the most famous barefoot runners of recent times Zola Budd now wears shoes and the reason she stays why is due to injury

    You can read my thoughts in the following thread
  • Another minimalist runner here...
    I tend to rotate a lot of different shoes, but I like my vibrams and vivobarefoot the best.
    Having said that, I also use some cushioned shoes, such as Nike Frees and I still occasionally run in my normal brooks.
    And one of my best pair is actually Asics trail shoe. However I find them really heavy compared to my vibrams/vivo's.

    I like a light shoe, and I find that I tend to heel strike with cushioned shoe, but using them occasionally give my calves that bit of a break of acting as a shock absorber all the time (can let them recover a little).

    Since starting in minimalist shoes, my niggles have pretty much gone, but if I use my normal cushioned trainers a lot, I'm starting to get the old niggles back.

    I am all for minimalist running, but I'm also all for variety, and what works best for you!

  • The barefoot enthusiast community by large state things which they can not back up with scientific evidence of any sort.
    They also forget that no evidence has ever been produced which proves without a doubt that you have a higher chance of injury heal striking or wearing running shoes.

    Whilst that is no doubt true. If such a metric is going to be applied it also has to be applied to the conventional footwear industry, where also no evidence has been produced that motion control or cushion shoes produce any reduction in injuries. In fact a few studies have shown that the use of such shoes in the manner suggested by their manufacturers increases injury.

    So given that no side of the argument can produce reliable evidence, you're left really with applying whatever personal philosophy you prefer.
    Given that the foot's designed to flex, and nature appears to have built it with an appropriate sized heel for purpose or walking and running, I prefer a shoe that minimises the interference with what my foot's meant to do. Other's may not.
    However whatever philosophy you choose, examine very very carefully the claims that are made or implied or inferred to support it.

    The following articles are good starting points -
  • SqueakzSqueakz ✭✭✭
    Ian, I could not agree with you more, but im not aware of anyone on a forum who suggests that traditional running shoes mean you will be injury free, I am unable to say the same about barefoot running, forums the web over including this one have tales of people who claim they are injury free after running for a short period in minimalist shoes. These people are often not doing very high milages and do not have long term experieces. i would like to see where a promoter of traditional shoes has ever suggested or implied that the shoes reduce injury or any podiatrist which suggests this. I can't say this for minimalist shoes.

    The supporters of barefoot running regularly associate it with reducing injury and many supporters use the research of Dr Lieberman as evidence. This research was sponsored by Vibram and only concluded that the impact force of heal striking was higher than midfoot striking, it did not conclude that this caused injury or was a big issue. Dr Lieberman research is so often misquoted and misused that he has stated in bold print on it now that he dies not conclude that barefoot shoes or midfoot striking reduces injury and in fact may increase the possibility of it.
    Only one side of the debate makes caims regarding reduction in injury, only one side of the debate argues with the qualified podiatry profession on forums, only one side makes claims which have no evidence.

    I personally think you have hit the nail on the head no side of the argument can produce reliable evidence, you're left really with applying whatever personal philosophy you prefer.

    Im just trying to help people considering one or the other make an informed choice regarding what is right for them as the only truth we know at the moment is that not enough research has been done.
  • Only one side of the debate makes caims regarding reduction in injury

    Whilst I agree with a lot of what you say, I would take issue with this.
    Time and time again I see people on this forum telling new runners to go to running shop, get their gait 'analysed', so that the appropriate shoe can be chosen to reduce their chance of getting injured.
    Likewise time and time again people post things along the lines of "I've getting shin splints, I know it can't be my shoes as I've had my gait analysed".
    It's all a bit depressing that this received wisdom keeps being repeated without anything particularly credible to back it up, but I agree 100% with your aim that people should make an informed choice.
  • I've started running more in minimalist shoes and they are really working for me. I am easing into using them cos I got all over-excited by them on the first gentle outing and so went out for an 8-miler. Jeez my calves hurt the next day. But I think these are the shoes for me - on roads at least. Will stick to something more chunky for trail.
  • One thing is certain, all the big name brands are now producing minimalist shoes to cater for the new "craze", and the "innovators", were already charging the earth for selling you less shoe!

    It's a bit people who pay to lose weight (ie weight watchers etc) paying out money to lose weight when all you had to do was spend less on food!  Mental.

    You can buy a pair of flat soled running shoes for under £20 that in essence seem no different to to the £85+ "bare foot" shoes...

  • I bought my vibrams for £40 image
    More than half of the price for what they sell over here!

    I always look for sales, I generally don't want to spend much more than £50 in a pair.
    I do a lot of investigation of the particular shoe I plan on buying beforehand, and try them on in shops, then I go online and hunt for the best deal.

    Like I mentioned earlier, I have all sorts of running shoes and I keep rotating between minimalist, traditional and "in between" trainers.

  • Hi,

    I started running about 10 years ago. I started slow and worked my way up and ran regularly (3-4 times a week, give or take) for about 4 years. Then on one run, I got pain in my shins bad enough to force me to stop and walk home. From that run onwards, no matter how much rest I took, the shin pain would re-surface.

    I had a sports osteotherapy session and given stretches to do. I had my gait analysed and bought running shoes from a good sports shop, based n the video session and my running needs. I then only ran off-road - to remove the unforgiving nature of concrete. The pain would always return.

    This is over a few years, of course, with lots of non-running time in between too. A year or so ago, I started at a gym and only ran on the treadmill (no outdoor running of any kind) and I had no shin pain. So I realised that I coudl run without this pain. My aim was then to try and get to run outside again... so what to do?

    I then heard about BFR and read a lot of stuff on the web. Much of it from evangelists and vehement detractors. However, I recognised that I run, naturally, with a heel strike so I thought I may at least try it as many said it might prevent, or lessen, shin problems.

    I started by running on the treadmill, in socks. Again, for very short periods (putting my trainers back in to complete the sessions of 5K). I built the time up and went barefoot too - the downside were bad blisters. I finally got a second hand pair of Vibram Five Fingers from ebay, and started using those for the full 5K distance.

    Then one day I went to the gym and all treadmills were being used so I decided to do a short run, on-road. My calfs did 'smart' and I hobbled the next day, but the discomfort was from muscles beign used, not the pain of somethign wrong (as with my shins).

    Since that run, I have done 1 to 2 on-road runs a week. The last three have been just shy of 10K. All using VFF's.

    So far - and I stress SO FAR - changing my running style and using these barefoot shoes seems to have enabled me to run longer and further than I ever have. (I am even considering attempting a half-marathon!).

    Despite how it seems to have worked for me (I stress again, so far) I wouldn't scream for every one to try BFR from the roof tops - it will suit some, but not suit others. But would point out: watch any athlete and any running distance - long, mid and short - and they all strike the floor on their fore or mid foot areas. Running spikes have no heel.

    I am not an athlete, or a natural sportsman and I am the 'wrong' side of 45 image. I run slowly, look like a plonker and really should know better... but I am running, regularly, again.

    So, for me - and me only - trying BFR (and taking it very slowly) has - so far - paid off.

    Happy trails.

  • Hi there, I'm a barefoot/minimalist runner in Brighton! I'm orgonising the Brighton Barefoot Run this year as part of International Barefoot Runners Day ( a global event). The UK chapter are having our race on May 5th in Stanmer Park Brighton. It's only a 5k but it's barefoot and there are going to be lots of other barefooters there. Last year we had 60 this year we are hoping for more.

    You can register on the fast and fresh website.

    I also have an online store called Barefoot Britain selling minimalist footwear and I sort out group runs every few months if anyone is interested in coming along on one.....

    You can also find me as Barefoot Britin on Facebook if any of yo are on there, I am connected with quite a few barefoot groups and can help you meet up with others for runs etc. Drop me a line

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