This is for athletes who have questions about how to TRANSITION to barefoot running. It’s perfect for those who want a CONSERVATIVE approach designed from the start to LIMIT INJURIES. Running in bare feet or minimalist footwear feels very different to the body and should not be taken lightly. There are no shortcuts. My entry was even more conservative than most authorities recommend. I’ve been around the block, having altered my running style a couple times in the past, and knew what to expect.
You should, in my opinion, be doing this for FUN and not expecting to race in Vibrams. And you should be ready to take TWELVE (12) MONTHS or so to make the initial transition. It can be valuable for some people, a few may be able to go long distances, and for others it will be completely unworkable. Take any aches and pains seriously from the start and treat them aggressively. Do NOT run injured. Per Elite Run Coach Bobby McGee: People with high over-pronation levels and hyper-mobile subtalar joint individuals are not good candidates for barefoot running.
The “BREAK-IN” period, where I went from fairly constant (but mild) aches and pains after runs, caused by the new style, to 20min broken runs (1-2min segments) with short rest and no symptoms afterward, took about six (6) months. During this time I was stretching, rolling, icing, and generally on top of every issue that arose.
The next phase, or “BUILD” period included one run weekly in Vibrams, but a second run in a “low heel rise” minimalist shoe (Brooks Pure Cadence) that I built to thirty (30) minutes. I also upped the Vibram run segments to 3-6min (still 20-25min total run time) and sometimes substituted a true barefoot treadmill run. This phase took another four (4) months.
By month twelve (12) I was doing longer runs in the Brooks of 7-9 miles, training for an Olympic distance triathlon. I completed that race the following month in the Brooks Pures.
Note: USAT has a great webinar by Bobby McGee on B/M running. I highly recommend it.
Here’s my take, and how I did it: