Starting from scratch, minimal shoes from the beginning?

Hi everyone! Complete novice here, so bear with me...

I've been out of running for 18 months due to a foot injury (tibialis posterior). Before this, I had been running for 5 months around 3-4 times a week up to 3 miles a time. I had been building up slowly due to being very unfit and previous injuries. I was running in shoes recommended by the shop for mild overpronators following a gait analysis. Anyway, while recovering from the injury I noticed that my foot hurt less when I was walking around in a pair of very cheap, flimsy, 10 year old fashion trainers that the insoles fell out of years ago. Now I've done my first three test runs in them too (1km) and so far, so good. I'm wondering if I should get myself some minimal/barefoot running shoes but I don't know much about this subject. Most guides I've read deal with transitioning, can I run in them from the start? Is there a good guide to them anywhere? I do a mixture of trail and road running but my long term goal is cross country running. My top priority is to not get injured again, it's made me very sad not being able to run!

Also, is there a rough guide to how quickly I should up my distances? I'm much more CV fit than muscle fit if that makes sense so I find it hard to judge. Also very injury prone.

Any help and advice will be gratefully received, especially where injury avoidance is concerned!

- Lindsay.


  • Thanks for the reply Flob (great name image), I've done about 2 months power walking twice a day including hills and about 2 weeks incorporating short bursts of running. Got a bit scared by your 25k running program but googled it and realised it's couch to 5k - much more sensible image

    Will try and do some research into the different 'drop' of shoes then, running shoes seem to need a degree to figure out these days. I wish I knew where my current trainers fit in, I don't want to go up to come back down if you know what I mean!

  • Hi Lindsay, I'm no experienced runner, so I'm only talking from my limited experience.

    I started running earlier this summer with a couch to 5k program and was doing ok until I got to my first 20 minute non-stop and then pulled a calf muscle which took 2 months to get better. When I started back again, I found every time I tried to up my pace or distance my calf would start to give up again.

    Just over a month ago, I was in TKMaxx and came across a pair of Skechers Go -Trail trainers." Promote a mid-foot strike" it said on the label. I'll give them a go I thought.

    They have been a revelation. They feel really strange when you put them on, as if you're going to fall over backwards, but you adjust in a matter of seconds. I think they have a heel drop of around 4mm and feel really light.

    I bought a book called Chi-Running at around the same time and have 'tried' to apply that to my running (I run on my own, so how well I'm applying it is debatable). It's a bit 'Mystic Meg' but whether it's the book or the trainers or the combo of both I've been injury free since, so something is working.

    Good luck with finding the right shoe for you, it appears that it can make a big difference.

  • If you decide to go down the minimalist shoe route, it would be a good idea to combine it with a C25k programme, as you need to build up the mileage really slowly!

    I have been running in minimalist merrell barefoot shoes for nearly 2 years and when i first started using them they were so comfortable i blatted out 5 miles thinking this is great, and then suffered for 3 weeks with my calves!

    lower drop shoes really work your calves!

    oh and i had a flat foot and overpronation on my left foot before i started with them, now it appears that my arch has raised and according to a recent gait analysis at the asics bootcamp, dont over pronate any more. (and anyway overpronation would only be an issue if you heel strike)

  • Hi all,

    Transitioning to minimalist footwear can be a god-send for some people (not for others). If you want to give it a go, then I'd really recommend the following:

     - Build up REALLY slowly. I wrote a blog post on this a while back

     - Consider buying some minimalist everyday shoes (such as those made by Vivobarefoot). This can help to strengthen you lower legs and feet, i.e. prepare them for minimalist running, without the impact of lots of minimalist running from day one.

     - Take some time to do some lower leg and foot strengthening exercises a few times per week. Running should always be supported by an appropriate strength program. You should also look at hip strength which affects the way that your legs and feet work and the degree to which you pronate.

     - Pay attention to your running form. This is actually the most important thing you can do. Minimalist shoes are not a silver bullet - you can still run with bad form in minimalist shoes - and can actually injure yourself pretty quickly that way. Get your running form analyzed by a running coach if needed - it's well worth the investment.

    There's also a bit more information here:

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