Minimalist shoes advice

I have been trying to run a more efficient style by mid foot striking instead of heel striking. So I bought Vivobarefoot evo 2 and trail breath ( as both were just £25 each on sportsdirect) this seemed to be going ok I had sore calves for few weeks but that cleared and i did a few runs feeling great, but now my feet are sore including a pain accross the top of left foot which is sore even when walking.

I know i probably pushed to hard and i am wondering wether i should try a more cushoned shoe but one that still encourages mid foot striking. I have been looking at nike frees, Sacauny KINVARA 3 and brooks pure flow. I don't want to spend more money than needed and also I want to reuce risk of further injury. What are peoples view on this. Are the vivo's too extreme for me just now. I feel i am must still be doing some heel striking and my cadence is no where near 180, probably closer to 100-120 ( although i have not tried to test yet, this is just how it feels.



  • how much mileage did you do in them to start with?

  • the most i have done is 6miles/10k, but most runs are 4 m/6k. I am hoping to push milage up as aim to do a 1/2 marathon this year eairhter hoy in june or crathes in september


    I am also considering running in my old nike pegasus 27s for longer runs

  • Hey George, just keep going with the small stuff and work on your technique.

    Its frustratingly slow to begin with but well worth it!

    Just take your time to build up and you will be running further and faster than ever! image I changed my running style over around 2 years, I have been running in sandals for the last year. Finished my first marathon in November and have my first ultra in May. Learn to listen to your body and once again, take your time!

  • did you start off by doing 6 miles? you should start off by doing just a half mile  to a mile each run, and increase your mileage by only about half mile a week per run in minimalist shoes.
    the thing to remember is that just because you have bought the shoes, doesnt mean to say they will do all the transitional work for you.
    Vivobarefoot and merrell have some good instructional videos on you-tube/ vimeo/company websites.
    you need to make sure that you are not overstriding and that your cadence is faster and closer to 180. (doesnt have to be exact but faster than 120) I count 'misisiippi 1, missisippi 2 etc' for a few strides to check mine and it should be 3 footstrikes per second. image
    There are also some foot exersices you can do to help strengthen the foot muscles which may help the foot pain.

    You dont say how long you have been running in them altogether?

  • +1 Maxs Mum

    Great advice! If you are looking for cadence training music try drum and bass as it is usually up around the same bpm! image

    A great foot exercise is to sit and point your toe then bending only from your ankle, write each letter of the alphabet

  • just realised my spelling was atrocious, sorry! image

  • running in vivos for 6 weeks, first couple of weeks were more walk/run mixed. I only did the 6 miles once 10 days ago.

  • OK, well your first week should have been no more than about a mile per run. plus a lot of walking around barefoot (or in socks) indoors and in safe places, eg beach, office, garden etc.
    then add half a mile a week. means you should be doing no more than about 3.5 - 4 miles now. Tough i know when they feel great!
    I made the mistake of doing 5 miles straight out in my merrell trail gloves, and suffered the next day and for 2 weeks afterwards!
    After lots of ice, I took myself right back to when i started running, and did the 5 min run, 2 min walk type of thing, bit like a couch to 5k schedule, and worked up through the training again.
    I didnt have enough mileage in them to do the VLM in april last year, but have been building up slowly since then and can now do in the region of 16-18 miles.
    take it slowly and re-visit your running style and things should get better

  • I had the trail gloves as well, did 450 miles in them before switching full time to sandals. Still use them in the gym! 

  • I have to re-new mine each year as i wear them out! image

  • Nice! image How many miles a year do you do roughly?

  • ooh er, well had to check my runkeeper for that one!
    prob wont sound a lot to some but the last 12 months have done about 900 miles. Last month was my longest at 126 miles.
    Nowhere near as long as some people but not bad. image

  • hey that's great going! Last year I think mine was just under 700? I spent the whole year transitioning to minimal!

    126 in a month is a hell of a lot miles! well done!

  • George, you're risking a "too much too soon" injury, or what I've taken to calling an "if it hurts, rest, stupid" injury. So my first recommendation is rest before you seriously upset your extensor tendons (the ones on the top of your foot, under your laces) or metatarsals. The pain could also be a pressure point: if it doesn't hurt if you walk barefoot, but does hurt with shoes on, it might be that.

    Just changing to minimalist shoes without changing your running style isn't going to help you. You need a fast cadence, short stride, landing with your foot pretty much underneath you not out in front. Also, don't make the mistake of trying to run on your toes - your heel should touch the ground, it just shouldn't be the first part of your foot to do so. I run at a cadence of 190-200 per minute (that's 90-95 per foot) and I'm now running exclusively in minimalist shoes (VB Neo and VB Neo Trail), but it took quite some months to get to that. Longest distance I've done is 50 miles, in Neo Trail.

    Checking your cadence is simple: wait until your watch/running watch hits exactly X minutes. Count footfalls on one side. When your watch reaches X+1 minutes, see where you're up to. If you don't want to keep looking at your watch, get somone else to time you for a minute.

  • Thanks all, I think i will try longer runs with normal trainers and try the shorter runs in my vivo's. That way i can build my millage safer. Plus I need to work on my running form, I know i lean forward from hips so will have to straighten up.

  • George, if you -have- strained your extensor tendons or have a metatarsal stress reaction, you need to rest, not run, whatever the shoes. Seriously.

  • Debra I am resting my foot, I am just planning ahead for when my foot is better. I am trying to work out my head the best way forward post injury I don't want to injure my self further and then not be able to run for even longer. This injury has come at a bad time as i was just starting to really enjoy my running and the 10k run i did was brilliant the best i have felt in ages. so i will rest until foot is better.

  • Okay, that's fine - just didn't want you back on in a week saying "so, now I have a stress fracture..."

  • I wonder if our blog article entitled What Are Barefoot Running Shoes offers any insight on this matter? You all seem quite clued up but it is quite a useful piece all the same. The key point from above is that just buying minimal shoes does not make you a more efficient runner and the advice of a coach or guidance from someone like Kinetic Revolution of the Running School would be ideal. They are both highly regarded coaching companies with whom we have no affiliation.

  • When making this transition many coaches suggest that you learn good form by going completely barefoot to begin with - once you learn how to run again then you can consider the option of which footwer to wear to make things a little easier. But certainly take it slow - I would say that it took me a full year to year and a half even, to be able to go all terrain. Now I'm two and a half years down the line injury free and loving the feeling of being barefoot!

  • mordomordo ✭✭✭
    Hi George. It's a big drop from 12mm to zero and it might be worthwhile going through a transition i.e using a more minimalist rather than bare foot shoe like the brooks pure project shoes. Check out the inov8 website and their range of road shoes which suggest going from 12 to 8 to 4mm before a zero drop though I went straight to 4mm which I feel are much like xc spikes with no calf or foot problems
  • Thanks all for the advice, I think I will go back to my Nike Pegasus until I get a transition shoe and slowly work towards the vivo barefoots

  • I just bought Saucony Kinvara 3s. They feel great, so light and comfy. Just a couple of runs 6k and 7k but no calf or foot pain. Only slightly tight legs the day after but that is to be expected after not running for 5 weeks. again thanks all for advice.image

  • Sockwa G3 I find to be the most minimal and comfortable.


  • I've been looking at moving towards a natural shoe (barefoot scares me a bit!) and have been thinking of moving to 4mm drop with a bit of cushioning to allow so I can still complete long runs whilst adjusting.  I do mainly midstrike at the moment so want to encourage that.  I didn't realise there were so many 4mm shoes around!  Kinvaras seem popular, any others that anyone thinks are worth a look?  New Balance 10?

  • mordomordo ✭✭✭
    The brooks pure range have a good level of cushioning but it usually comes down to what brand of shoe and soft/medium/firm feel you like or are comfortable with. I find adidas too firm and asics too soft for my style of running
  • Thanks for the reply mordo.  It is difficult to change as it is hard to really try the alternatives out.  I want enough cushioning to help when legs are tired (latter stages of a long run) and running form becomes a little shabby but not too much.  Personal choice I know but it is good to see what others are using.

  • I was a heel striker who wanted to move to a midfoot to try to be more efficient

    I started off with skechers gorun ride which I really love. They are very light, but feel cushioned 4mm drop and have technology in them to encourage you to land midfoot. My size 7 weighs 220g which is a little bit lighter than my saucony fast twitches.

    Don't be put off by the brand, they are a great shoe and come in lots of pretty colours. The gorun ride and gorun ride ultra are pretty much the same, I have had both, just depends what colour you like! I have done 600 miles in my first pair and did 100km ultra the other week in a newer pair.

    If you want something lighter there is the gorun2 which is 170g, that is more of a minimal shoe in that you can feel the stones underfoot but it is still more cushioned than the NB minimus and it is also a 4mm drop

    Wiggle have some of the models going cheap at the moment.
  • Hi hellen. I saw you had suggested Sketchers on another thread. Brand did put me off at first but I will look at them as you seem very satisfied with their quality. Some of the main brands seem to be overpriced. You managed to move away from heel striking without problems? Did you scale back your running much?

    Thanks for the reply!

  • Lee, I never scale back my running but was alternating shoes.

    I am not sure if I am fully forefoot striking yet but photos are looking better!

    I had no prob with the gorun ride and gorun ride ultra up to marathons distance but my calves did ache after a 40 miler but they don't now not even after 100km

    I am still getting used the the gorun2 though (lighter ones) and am still getting calf ache with those, max run is about 8 miles in them.
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