Posts Tagged ‘Barefoot Running’

Mar
24

There has been a lot of talk in the press lately about Dr. Lieberman’s studies on barefoot biomechanics. Here’s a link to his finding and website: (http://www.barefootrunning.fas.harvard.edu/6FAQ.html) Lots of stuff to read and geek out about—thought I’d share. I found it interesting enough to add it to my Links page for future reference. Giddyup!

Mar
06

Teague at FootZone in downtown Bend is putting on a Barefoot Minimalist Discussion Panel this Wednesday evening, March 10, 2010 at 6:30pm at FootZone. Panel will include runners Max King and myself, Physical Therapist Mike Tompkins of Rebound Physical Therapy, and Teague Hatfield (footwear buyer and owner of FootZone). We will be talking about taking a common sense approach to using your feet more and your shoes less.  Come join us and learn from the experiences of others—what to expect and how to avoid injury. Come join us—giddyup!

Mar
06

Well, SORRY, SORRY for the absence of posts lately. I’ve been super busy with work and trying squeeze in training volume for the upcoming Way Too Cool 50k in California next weekend (much of my training has been with a headlamp to get it all in). I’m finally back to running barefoot a little again too! Giddyup! I’m definitely taking the conservative/cross-training approach to minimalist after my bout with Plantar Fasciitis when I bumped up my volume in minimalist running shoes too quickly. I don’t know what I expected after 38 years locked up in shoes! Baby steps, baby steps…literally.

Anyway, I’ve been back to running in the Inov8 X-Talon 212s part time and warming up and cooling down again barefoot (no Vibram Five Fingers for now)…I feel that was part of my problem that caused issues previously. I went too far, too fast in the VFFs and stressed my feet out. They allow you to do too much because of the Vibram protection factor. So, I’m going pure barefoot now, which forces a MUCH, MUCH slower transition due to having to wait on your skin to toughen up…it’s the limiting factor which I feel is a good thing. This is my newest “ah-ha” moment with regard to transitioning and spending time barefoot running. Your tender skin is the natural way of causing you to adapt comfortably and healthfully.

The other thing I’ve been doing is exclusively wearing the Terra Plana Vivo Barefoot Aqua Shoe. I’m LOVING this shoe. I wear it all the time apart from running or going barefoot around the house. They’re like funky looking flat tennis shoes (with a moccasin feel). And, if fashion is a concern…they’re pretty dang superfly hip with some hipster jeans and a retro shirt—you’re ready to slip into the club and kick it—all while strengthening your feet. The ultimate in cross-training hipness. They have a wide toe box for your feet to splay out while walking and are completely flat with no heel build up. They are definitely a bit pricey at $150…I happened to get them for half-off…Chirunning.com (I get the e-newsletter) had a half-off code last month. A nice bonus for sure. They’re worth the investment, even at $150. Well worth the barefoot simulation time outside of running coupled with the funkadelic-factor…in my humble opinion.

Check out their site for a huge selection of shoes…but especially check out the Vivo Barefoot line: http://www.terraplana.com

Jan
10

I’ve had several questions about my minimalist transition, how to’s, etc. So I thought I’d look back and try to put it in a generalized “how-to” post, based on my experience. With the benefit of hindsight, I put it into a generic 8 week program to be full time in a minimalist shoe in 2 months. I personally made the full transition in 6 weeks, but please keep in mind, I’m an ultrarunner and typically run a minimum of 2000 miles a year, compete in a least 6 ultramarathon races per year and have been doing this for nearly a decade. So, my transition may be a bit quicker than most. However, if you spend time barefoot and re-learn your proper running stride (barefoot), listen to your body and don’t overdue it giving your body time to adapt, I truly believe you can do this. And, it won’t take as long as you might think. Happy natural running!

So, here’s generally the concept behind my transition from the Brooks Launch with a beefy arch support insole (basically an over the counter soft orthotic), to a minimalist 7+ ounce trail flat with just the flat, stock insole it comes with (e.g. NB MT100 or the Inov8 x-talon 212)…

Week 1 and 2:

I started spending time barefoot (around the house, wore Vibram Five Fingers around town to run errands, etc.). If I felt discomfort in my feet or arches, I put on arch supported sandals (Montrail flip-flops, Birkenstocks, etc.) and wore them the remainder of the day (first day was maybe 30 minutes before I put on sandals). I did this mainly around the house. Then, repeated this regimen every day until I could go all day barefoot without discomfort).

During this time, I ran every other run (never back to back days) in a minimalist shoe, half of my normal run time. (Example: if my typical daily run is 1 hour, 6 days a week: I ran every other 3 days in my normal running shoes for 1 hour, and the other 3 days , I bumped back my volume and ran 30 minutes every other day in the minimalist shoe.)

Also, during this time, I rolled my foot and arches on a golf ball every evening and worked on keeping my heel on the floor while picking up and dropping the golf ball repeatedly (at different angles…to the side, straight on, etc.). At first, my arch would cramp and couldn’t even pick it up with my left foot (my weaker foot that pronates more). But with time, I could pick up the golf ball with any of my toes (big toes, outside little toes, etc.). I also worked on curling and flexing and spreading my feet and toes…which I do often when sitting at my computer or driving after long runs back from the trailhead (barefoot).

Week 2 and 3:

By this time, I was spending a lot of non-running time comfortably barefoot. When I did wear casual shoes, I felt constricted and my feet wanted out. I immediately flipped off shoes when I walked in the door. My feet and ankles started feeling stronger…and springy. I started to introduce a Vibram Five Finger cooldown run at the end of my every other 3 day minimalist 30 minute run sessions. First day was 6 minutes in the VFFs and my feet were sore after 6 minutes. I kept adding a few minutes every run in them until I could run a 20 minute cooldown in them comfortably.

In my personal opinion, these were key sessions. This really started to work on proper natural (barefoot) running form required to run in a minimalist shoe and not get injured. That meant working on no overstriding, a midfoot strike, heel kiss the ground slightly, bent knees, running light…really using your leg bend, and ankle/achilles/calf flex to absorb shock.  I had some calf/achilles soreness during this period, but I kept stretching consistently and eventually the soreness passed. Plus, remember, these sessions were every other day, so my body had time to heal and adapt before the stress of the next session.

Week 5 and 6:

Still barefoot as much as possible in casual time. I started to gradually increase my minimalist run sessions to more days a week and more time for each run (slowly…no more than 5-10 minutes more each run). I’m only running my once per week long run in my old running shoe set-up and they feel weird and clunky and VERY heavy. I was now running about 40-60 minutes 5+ days a week in the minimalist shoes with a 20 minute VFF cooldowns at the end. In this week, I replaced one of my run days with strictly a VFF run of 30 minutes. I’m having fun and feeling more comfortable in the VFFs and I’m looking forward to the “adventure” in them when I go out. In the 6th week, I do my first VFF “longer” trail run  of about 55 minutes (on singletrack with part of it on snow). I have a blast! My feet are slightly tender the last 10 minutes of the run (as it was frozen ground), but they’re fine the next day.  I’m now solidly running 3 (sometimes 4) sessions in the VFFs per week in the form of either a long cooldown (15-25 minutes) or at least one run per week as a VFF-only run of 30-50 minutes. The VFFs are in my bag on long run days and I switch into them to wear home after my weekly long trail run. I found that if I put on a shoe, especially after my long run days, my arches and foot get Plantar Fasciitis symptoms. (NOTE: I believe this is because of restricted movement, post-run, as your feet need to stretch out and move and wiggle, just like stretching and shaking out your legs). So, I usually choose to either drive home after long runs completely barefoot, or wear VFFs so they can flex and stretch.

Week 7 and 8:

My minimalist epiphany: Ongoing and required to stay minimalist…barefoot as much as possible in casual time and HAVE to run a few days a week in the Vibram Five Fingers or barefoot (once the weather allows) to keep form dialed in and ongoing strengthening in the lower legs and feet. I think of them as basically form drills.

At this point (as well as moving forward in the future), I’m running at least 2 days a week in the VFFs for barefoot form reminders and general strengthening (plus I wear them around town sometimes for running errands), not counting a cooldown or two…my general rule is 3 sessions per week in them. These VFF running sessions vary from 15-60 minutes, depending on if it’s a cooldown or a recovery run day where I’m strictly in them as my run for the day. During this two week span, I bumped back my long run day to a normal 1 hour run and transitioned ALL my runs in the minimalist shoes. Now over the coming weeks, I start to build my weekly long run (and one other run per week) in order to get my old running volume back in the minimalist footwear.

So, that’s my experience, I just ran a 50k trail race in minimalist shoes and had no issues. I’m totally psyched to be in light shoes and look forward to my time running in the Five Fingers each week. They really, really help form and strength on my easy run days. So, I hope that helps somebody out there free their feet and go minimalist and tap into their natural running form. Have fun and Giddyup!

Dec
25

It’s Christmas Eve, kids are in bed, and my wife and I are getting ready to settle down for a Christmas Eve movie in front of the fire with the glow of Christmas tree lights. Life is awfully good. I’m feeling mighty blessed.

So, it’s been a few days since I posted and thought I’d give a quick update on my minimalist shoe transition. Actually, I’m pretty stoked with the process so far. Starting last Friday, I decided to put in a good 7 day block of training, exclusively in minimalist shoes and Vibram Five Fingers and finish with Christmas day off and rest. Some of you may not be interested in so much detail from my 7 day training block (sorry), but I thought I’d include it in case it could be of help for someone trying to make the transition to a minimalist running shoe.

First off, I’m glad I was really careful in the first 4 week, post-100 miler with the couple weeks walking barefoot increasingly more, walking in the Vibram Five Fingers, then slowly running short stints in them and slowly weening off my arch supports over a few more weeks in minimalist shoes. I’m starting to see the fruit of my patience (which, for those who know me well, I’m not the most patient person on the block). That fruit is the culmination of a successful 7 day training block exclusively in minimalist shoes and no arch supports. I was able to run 7 days in a row for a total of 82.9 miles (90% on dirt).

Breakdown of shoes by mileage:

Breakdown of the last week by runs:

  • Friday: 16.1 mile run in NB MT100s, 1400 feet of climbing, dirt 4wd roads and trail (NOTE: This was my first longer run in a minimalist shoe since working through the transitional process of slowly weening off arch support insoles in the Brooks Launch and into the New Balance MT100 over a period of 4 weeks. 10 days prior to this run, I completely threw my arch supports aside to train all my mileage in minimalist shoes or VFFs. Besides normal maintenance runs of 5-8 miles, I’d done one 11 miler 8 days before this particular longer run in the NB MT100s…I have to admit, I was nervous on this run, but everything went smoothly.)
  • Saturday: 13.1 miles total: 10 mile fartlek trail run in NB MT100s with 800 feet of climbing, then 3.1 mile cooldown in VFFs on trail (left inside ankle…weak ankle…was a touch fatigued after this run, but it went away within an hour or two of completing the workout).
  • Sunday: 9.2 miles total: 6.2 night fartlek trail run in NB MT100s, then 3 mile cooldown in VFFs on grass and partially on paved pathway. (Since starting the transition, this was my 8th running session in VFFs and it felt great—kind of a breakthrough run where I felt smooth and light, not awkward.)
  • Monday: 8 mile fartlek trail run in NB MT100s, 800 feet of climbing with Bessie Butte summit.
  • Tuesday: 10.5 miles total: 8.4 mile tempo run in Asics HyperSpeed 3s on dirt/pavement mix, then 2.1 mile cooldown in VFFs on pavement.
  • Wednesday: 20 mile run in NB MT100s, 800 feet of climbing (with Awbrey Butte summit), mostly trail, some pavement.
  • Thursday: 6 mile trail run in VFFs (This was an awesome run, another breakthrough run in the VFFs, did a 2 mile rolling trail, then climbed up singletrack 1 mile climb on the backside of Green Mountain at sunset, then returned the same route. Feet, ankles and arches felt good. This run really had me thinking of how to incorporate some 6+ milers in the VFFs in my training).

I’m fortunate in that my time passively barefoot can be quite extensive since I work out of my house. I also got 4 runs in the VFFs this week—I’ve been consistently mixing them into my training runs the past few weeks, 3-4 times a week, 10%-15% of my weekly mileage. Both of these aspects (passive barefoot and running in the VFFs) are really doing wonders for my ankle and arch strength. I think this combo is the primary factor for the quickness of my transition to the minimalist shoes. I’m really noticing a difference walking barefoot and standing barefoot. My arches and ankles feel springy and strong and my Plantar Fasciitis tightness is gone (keep in mind, this is not actual PF, but I’ve had lingering left foot PF-type tightness since my bout in 2007). The calf soreness I had at the beginning of the transition is gone now. The calves do get tight, especially after today’s 6 mile trail run in the VFFs, but it all feels like a normal tightness. The overall adaptation seems to be moving right along. I’m pretty excited. And, just in time for Christmas!

Dec
22

A person recently commented on my blog and inspired me to write about my thoughts on the current trend toward barefoot and minimalist running—thanks Eric. He also mentioned being inspired after reading Born To Run to go minimalist and run barefoot. He runs barefoot in the warmer months and runs in a XC flat in the colder months (e.g. barefoot feel and less $$).

I have been interested in this for several years…ever since I read an article on Kenyan training and the fact that the average Kenyan child run commutes barefoot 7.5km (that’s 4.6 miles) to school every day—not once—but 4 times a day! To school, home at lunch, back to school for afternoon session, back home. That’s an average of 18.4 miles per day, 5 days a week. That’s 92 miles per week—barefoot—from a young age. No wonder they’re kicking American butt in distance running.

Upon reading Born To Run this fall, it became the cliched “straw that broke the camel’s back” in my mental progression toward taking the minimalist plunge. I made it my goal that after Ozark 100′s completion, I would ween myself off the high-heeled running shoes with aftermarket arch supports.

So, is this trend for real? I think so. Almost everyone in my running circle is talking about it. I just ran into Kami Semick today at Thump Coffee in downtown Bend and we sat down and talked running for a while. She’s making the transition too. She’s been in orthotics for years, but running in a 7oz. racing flat with them. She admits she’s addicted to them, but is starting to ween by spending non-running time in the Vibram Five Fingers and seeing her feet strength increase.

So, what’s my opinion on this trend—it’s awesome, as long as us longtime shod runners take it slow. Us tenderfooted Americans need to transition slowly. I think that transition can be quicker than you think, especially if you spend a lot of off-running time (as well as some running time) barefoot. I’m happy to say that my personal transition has been quicker than expected. But, overall…yes, this is an awesome trend.

Shoe companies have gone the way of fashion and marketing gadgetry and make shoes into a “techie” industry that makes some flamboyant claims at cures, corrections, and injury prevention. If these high-tech-thingamabobs are supposed to prevent running injuries by shielding us from impact, correcting our pronation, and guiding our heel to toe transition—then why is the statistical data showing that 2 out of every 3 runners are sidelined every year because of a running injury? That’s over 60%!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a graphic designer and understand advertising, the customer, and the market. The hardcore, everyday runner is NOT the majority of the market share in the running shoe industry. Wearing those techie-looking Nike’s with your designer jeans is the market.

But, this trend and talk about barefoot running, spending time barefoot, lower-heel-less-shoe-no-arch-support, and Vibram Five Fingers is a good thing for runners. Hopefully it will get the shoe makers to come out with a few options, much like New Balance’s MT100 Trail shoe. A great ultrarunning minimalist shoe. It has a rock plate for protection for bombing off your favorite gnarly peak, a very flat-no-rounded-edges-no-arch insole and the heel is lower than a normal running shoe. We need more of that from shoe companies.

The good news is that we still have XC flats to choose from, and right now, they are relatively inexpensive compared to the normal running shoe. Not a lot of rock protection, but they’re a great shoe to have in your arsenal of minimalist training shoes. I know that more than one shoe is the antithesis of “minimalist,” but, hey, I like shoes. I can’t see my self ever being a hardcore barefoot-only runner. I’ll take a more fringe-of-the-mainstream approach and run barefoot sometimes, Vibram Five Fingers sometimes, minimalist shoes sometimes, and barefoot most of the non-running time.

With that said, I think the current trend toward less shoe, less heel, and anything else that encourages time barefoot is good for not just American runners, but running in general. The African barefoot running culture has shown us that.

Dec
20


I really had a small “Ah-Ha” moment today. After the 16 miler yesterday in the New Balance MT100s, I got up and ran a 10 mile trail run again this morning in them. Then, immediately at the trailhead, swapped to my Vibram Five Finger Flows and cruised another 5k for a cooldown in the woods. I’m beginning to see that barefoot running sessions mixed in are a must. They do a few simple things that I find essential:

1) They remind you of true proper form (as your feet lack sensory perception in shoes and drift off into laziness). You have to land on your midfoot and under your center of gravity and cannot overstride—ever.
2) The obvious one—strengthens your feet and lower legs.
3) Once you get past the “oh man, it hurts to run without shoes” adaptation phase, you learn to strike extremely lightly (even if you thought you were a light striker, this will take you to a new level of lightness).

Now, I know you hardcore barefooters out there are “in the know” already on all this jive. And, don’t necessarily think that VFFs are true barefoot running. I feel you. But, I do live in Central Oregon and it is winter—so, having 3mm of Vibram under my feet and some neoprene on top is pretty darn nice. Plus, I have a lifetime of lazy, weak feet from wearing shoes on these old dogs and I still want to race hard in at least 6 ultras this season. I’ll take my less-than-hardcore-balanced-variety-and-moderation approach, with the added benefit of not dealing with accidental cuts on my feet to set back my training.

All in all, I look forward to continuing to ramp up the VFF sessions this season. I want to work up to longer ones (10-15 miles). After some of my excited blabbering about the transition and the role of the VFFs to Teague at FootZone, he mentioned he might add a VFF category to the Dirty Half this year. Hmm, half marathon trail race in the VFFs…and I have ’til June to get ready. Giddyup!

Dec
18

Minimalist Longer Run

Posted by Bronco Billy in Uncategorized

I ventured out for a 16 miler this morning in the New Balance MT100s. This was my first longer run in them since starting my minimalist transition to a lighter, non-arch supported shoe 4 weeks ago. I had worked up to 11 miles once so far, but have been consistently doing 7-8 miles in the minimalist set-up.

I opted to head out into the high desert in search of dry ground (so I took the studs out of my MT 100s) and went to scout the Bad Ass 50k loop for our upcoming Jan. 2nd fat ass fun run that Meissner and I organize.
The route I chose is a 16 mile lollipop loop that starts in the Badlands and hits the 9 mile Bad Ass 50k loop on it’s backside at the mouth of Smith Canyon (Basically all the elevation gain/loss in the above profile is the 9 mile course loop). It climbs 4 miles up the canyon, then around and over a large Cinder Butte on an ATV trail (the pinnacle part of the profile), before returning back to the opening of the canyon and back into the Badlands. It’s mainly soft, sandy double track and with the recent warm snap of highs in the upper 40s and mainly rain…almost all the snow is gone out there and the double track was soft…I thought it a good route to break in my first longer run without arch supports and in the light MT100s, plus I’ve been really itching to try these shoes out on some more gnarly, technical footing, which the Cinder Butte’s ATV trail has.

I had no issues today. I just concentrated on really relaxing and lifting my feet quickly. I really think my shorter runs in the Vibram Five Fingers are helping this issue and really ramping my foot strength up faster than if I had only transitioned using running shoes. To give an example of how I’ve been using the VFFs, I ran a 7.2 mile fartlek run on Wednesday in the MT100s, then a 2.6 mile cooldown on rough, frost-heave grass in the VFFs at a leisurely 9-10/min pace.

My left ankle is definitely getting stronger, it didn’t bother me today. And another nice thing—my normal left foot, arch tightness (which has morphed into Plantar Fasciitis symptoms at times) is not really bothering me anymore—unless I put on tighter shoes after I run—if I go barefoot after my runs for a while and spread my toes and work them around, they feel good. I also am finding the morton’s neuroma-type soreness I had in my right foot’s metatarsal from time to time has gone away too. The symptoms of tight, built up shoes? Hmm…suspect for sure.

I’m barefoot in my office right now, after my run this morning, picking up and dropping, working my feet on a golf ball. I’m really starting to hate having shoes on. I spent the whole day in my VFFs on Wed around town (plus my workout mentioned). However, yesterday I wore some old minimalist Saucony’s (ya know, the funky old-school stylin’ kind), as I took a day off from running, and my feet couldn’t wait to get out of them last night. They actually were kind of sore and tight feeling. But, after being barefoot last night in the house and stretching them out, today they feel good.

I’m pretty pumped about how well this transition has been going. I have to say I love the lightness of the MT100s on the 16 miler today. Nimble, both climbing and descending on technical trail. I was able to easily get on my midfoot on landings downhill vs. the challenge of getting around and occasionally catching the heel on the raised-heels of normal running shoes. Giddyup!

Dec
02

I’ve been thinking a lot about minimalist running lately and the way we are built for running. Also, I’ve been contemplating our “holistic” running system (nutrition, feet, breathing, and mind). I’m in the off-season and this is a time of year I reflect.

I just started running again after some short time off after Ozark Trail 100 and I’m using this time to transition to a more minimalist running shoe. I’ve already been dabbling in the Vibram Five Fingers. I walk around town a few days a week in them. Do short jogging sessions in them. Spend time barefoot.

I’m also weaning myself off an aftermarket insole I’ve used for years. My feet have been locked up since 2003 in some kind of insole (e.g. plastic orthotic, then flexible orthotic, then aftermarket insole)…I’ve been slowing weaning myself to more and more of a neutral shoe with a over the counter insole. Now it’s time to make the final switch. My shoe of choice to go to is the New Balance MT 100. The runs I’ve done in them have been short but good. I’m doing it slowly as my feet adjust. It definitely feels better to run without the insole in a lightweight trainer (more nimble, more sensitive to the terrain)…but, I know I have weak muscles in my feet for a full out switch over. Baby steps. Every other day. Then when I feel good, the final transition.

This minimalist approach got me thinking about how we breathe when running with regard to how to teach my son to breathe while running. My wife and I are raising two kids that are being introduced to running. My young son just completed a fall session of a kids running club and he had some issues with side cramping. I jogged next to him on one of their little XC time trials and realized he was breathing through his mouth very sporadically. Well, this got me thinking about breathing and how to teach it. I came across a very interesting article by a running coach called Josh McDougal is a Perfect Example of What is Wrong With High School Track by John Raucci and I thought I’d share it. He covers feet, breathing, mind, training…the building blocks of a lifetime of running. If you have the time, read this very long, but very good article. Giddyup!

Oct
14


I recently read the book Born to Run by Christoper McDougall. I’ve heard many opinions from fellow ultrarunners the past few months—they either love it or hate it. Most of those who hate it tend to be tied into the shoe industry somehow (hmm, peculiar). All in all, I found the book to be a great (and fast) read.

I also had the privilege to hear the author talk the night before running Iroqouis 100 (now Virgil Crest 100) in NY last month and found him to be interesting, engaging and quite humorous. And, got my book signed with a note that read, “…as Caballo put it, running is magic, man!” Agreed, Chris.

Here’s my take…

Knowing all the ultrarunners he spoke about (Kami, Scott, Jen and Billy)…I found his descriptions of them a bit too “hollywood.” Also, in my opinion, he’s a little unbalanced in his approach, since he refers to running companies as a major cause of our running problems in America. Aren’t consumers to blame too? We do have a choice where we spend our denaros, right?

He also seems to throw around figures and percentages (like 80% of all runners get injured) with nothing really concrete to back it up, which raises a few credibility questions in the reader’s mind. He could have fielded this with some cited studies to back up his figures. Not to say this isn’t true, just seems questionable.

He definitely comes across as anti-shoe and anti-shoe companies. I have to agree with him on a deep, holistic, organic level…people have been getting along fine without shoes for thousands of years. But, I also have to face the facts….us tenderfeets have been locked in shoes our entire natural born lives and we can’t just run out the door barefoot (or even in a minimalist shoe) without getting injured. I’ve tried it.

I would dare say most of us can’t walk around the house for couple of days barefoot without getting some weird aches. A lifetime of shoes have created weak, lazy feet and weak, lazy lower legs.

Side Note: A fun test to see how lazy your feet are—right now—take off your shoes and socks. What? Are you wearing shoes in the house? Ah, man, c’mon, time to break the cycle! Okay, okay, the test: try to spread your toes apart, especially your pinky toe and create space between your toes, then wiggle them. Does smaller toes/pinky toe have ANY range of motion? Not much? Unless you’ve done a lot of yoga recently or like to go around barefoot a lot, your pinky toe may be almost welded to the next toe. (Don’t worry, mine are too!)

Anyway, I completely agree with the author and believe we are “Born to Run.” We should be in minimalist shoes, but this takes a balanced, disciplined approach—especially if you’ve been in orthotics or motion control shoes.

Every runner should mix it up. I totally think barefoot walking/running is great thing to incorporate into training. Start out by walking around barefoot as much as you can. Then try walking around barefoot outside. Then cool down the last 5 minutes of a run barefoot a few times a week. When that feels okay, make it a 10-minute cooldown—and so on. Train shorter, tempo or hill workouts in a minimalist racing flat. I like to play running games with my kids in my Vibram Five Fingers, but don’t go throw down a 2 hour trail run in them—yet. And, don’t stop there. Think about your kids (if you have them). I encourage barefoot play for my kids (no shoes in the house, no shoes outdoors in good weather) and search out a soft, flexible shoe for them so they don’t develop weak feet.

Balance. It’s all about a slow evolution, especially if you want to wean yourself off orthotics or beefy running shoes without injury. So, if you’ve been in shoes your whole life and want to run long and run prosperous, take off those shoes and go for a walk, then a short jog—just don’t throw your running shoes away quite yet. Giddyup!

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