Beginner(ish) runner in London - advice to go minimal?

I'm a (what I would consider to be) beginner runner - doing 3ish miles 3/4 times a week in suburban London, running on mostly pavements (with not much choice to do otherwise for most of the time).

After reading some books and getting 'over the hump' when starting running, I'm really enjoying it and think I will definitely continue.

However, as with many, I'm intrigued by the idea of barefoot running (it was an Oatmeal cartoon ( and 'Born to Run' that got me into running in the first place). My main motivation is to have more fun running and to be able to keep running with less chance of injury.

I'm thinking that if I'm ever going to do it, it's worth investigating and getting into NOW, before I get experienced and rack up longer runs and find the shift of form more difficult.

I'm currently focusing in my runs (in normal shoes) on adopting the barefoot frontal/midstrike form (with shorter strides and higher cadence etc.) and seem to be doing okay with that - no real pain or injury so far. 

I'm not fussed about times and races at this point, nor might I ever be (I'm only doing 10min/mile and quite happy with that. I'd rather up my mileage before my speed anyway) My main reasons for running are to feel good and because I've started enjoying it.

That's the background, here's the question

I'm not sure that I'm ever going to want to go fully barefoot - I live in London after all, and there's too much crap on the pavement about. So, what shoes/course of action would people recommend?

Should I go for fully minimal shoes (things like the really flat merrels/vivos. I'm not too sure about the vibrams from a fashion point of view, but then I could get over that)?

Should I look for a transition type shoe? If so, recommendations?

Would it be a good idea to go somewhere like Runners Need in London to get some advice?

Does anyone know anything about the Vivo barefoot workshops in London? They seem affordable, so are they worth doing?

Most of the material I've read say go barefoot straight away and build up to minimal shoes, but that's not going to happen round here for me I think.

I fully understand that I will need to cut back my mileage and change the way I run for this to work.

Many thanks for your patience in reading, and help in advance.


  • Still waiting for the expert, but for now "What he said".

    I got a pair of XeroShoes for the summer and started off easy for the first four weeks, walking, little runs, felt confident, so I did one of my easy three and a bit mile runs and felt okay about it until the next day.

    Oh @$£$!@$ing @£$£@ I hadn't felt that sore and achey before without actually winding up in casualty. Basically you'll be working a lot of extra musles and tendons that are usually given an easy ride by the shaping and support of the typical running shoe.

  • The key to going minimalist / barefoot safely lies in correct running technique.

    It's possible to run with incorrect form in both cushioned  and minimalist / barefoot shoes (and therefore potentially injure yourself). In addition, going minimallist won't necessarily magically correct your running form and with incorrect technique plus minimalist shoes it's likely you'll go down the road of injury and pain sooner than you would in a cushioned shoe.

    My advice...

    Get some running technique / coaching - it doesn't need to be a lot to learn the basics. Then practice the drills on your own like crazy. The minimalist shoes will support that running technique, then build up mileage gradually and leave a day between each run in minimalist shoes until your body adapts to them.

    Whereabouts in London do you run? I coach running technique (not usually in London) and work in London Mon - Fri. I'd be happy to help you out. Contact me through if you're interested. I don't pressure sell and the first session is free. Don't like it...don't come back image

  • Oh, and in terms of shoes. Check out the Innov-8 range:

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