Is Minimalist Running for You?
If you are into running at all, you’d have to be living under a rock to not know that barefoot running is a huge trend right now. For some it’s a scary prospect. For others, it’s the only way to go.
I’m not going to get into the debate, although I will say I’m a believer in the virtues of barefoot running. That said, barefoot running can be a slippery slope if you don’t do it correctly. I should know—I’m currently nursing stress reactions in both feet. But once I’m healed and back to some normal mileage in my shoes, I’ll be letting my skin hit the pavement again.
Because I have a vested interest in this both as a coach and a runner, I’ve done lots of research into how to go about safely using barefoot running to enhance your running. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Go slowly—and by slowly, I mean really slowly. You can’t just ditch your shoes and become a barefoot runner. You need to ease into this experiment because you’ll be using different muscles than you’re used to.
- Strengthen your feet first—that means simply walking around barefoot as much as possible to get your feet ready. When you can’t be barefoot, try a minimalist shoe, like the Merrell Pace Glove, Kigo, Vibrams, etc.
- Try completely barefoot—it’s the best way to learn. Your feet send your brain important messages that help you self-correct on form.
- Start out barefoot, run a short distance, then stick your shoes on. This will train your body for proper form that will carry over to your shod runs.
- Relax! Don’t over think your form. By simply “going with it,” your body will serve as your guide.
If you follow these simple rules, learning to run with better form will be yours. But be prepared for it to take a while—as much as a year. With patience, however, your hard work will pay off!
Amanda Loudin is a runner, writer, running coach, and mom well familiar with the trials of juggling it all. She has been running and competing in triathlons for 14 years now and still considers herself an evolving student of endurance sports. She loves to interact with other fitness fanatics on her blog, MissZippy1.