How to start minimalist running
Minimalist running - which is now being firmly distinguished as separate from barefoot running ('barefoot shoes' never really made much sense!) - is becoming more and more mainstream in the sporting world. Minimalist shoes are now found in high street sports shops rather than niche corners of the internet!
Personally I made the change in stages before I even knew there was a diffrent type of shoe. Never having any kind of brand loyalty I have switched form one shoe to another all my life. When the Rebok Realflex came out i fell in love, and thus began my transition.
I loved how light and flexible they were. I had no idea however that they had less of a heal drop or less "structure", I just knew they were comfortable and I liked them. - Alex D
There are many barefoot and minimalist runners here on Tribesports, you can find them in the Natural Running and Barefoot Runners Tribes. If you want to make the transition into minimalist running then here's some advice on how to do it from Tribesports users:
I'd been meaning to try minimalist running shoes for ages - as a keen trail runner I wanted to see the difference that the pose running style would have on my off road running. Your foot placement on rougher terrain is obviously different to when you run along pavements and many trail running accidents are caused because shoes are unforgiving to uneven surfaces. Barefoot or minimalist shoes utilise your foot's natural flexibility and thus you can avoid awkward injuries.
Check out Jack's excellent Minimalist Running Intro Guide which is full of advice he learned at a minimalist shoe workshop, from how your stance will differ to 'traditional' running to advice on how to adapt to the new style.
Jeff: I would say that minimalist running greatly improves balance, proprioception, and certainly foot strength. Also, the reduce impact greatly reduces knee and joint strain. It didn't take too long to adjust as I made the switch within two months of taking up running. I would say it was 2-4 weeks in the new style until I was comfortable. Very sore to begin with, but I expected it and built up very very gradually.
I did have to force myself to run very short distances initially. I wanted to go further because it felt so good, but the delayed onset soreness came quickly... a lot of new muscles were getting used.
Eoin: I started off doing only my warm ups in the VFFs and then changing back into normal runners for the main part of the run. I increased the distance of my warmups and eventually started doing 6-8k easy runs on their own.
I had already done a POSE running and barefoot running workshop and a Chi Running course, so adjusting didn't take long. So far my longest distance in them has been 15k (I have a 16k and a HM planned in them in the next 3 weeks).
Exercises and tips to make the transition to pose running:
- Eoin recommends Calf raises and Wall squat calf raises
- Jumping on the spot from mid-soles also builds strength in the disused muscles in the feet of 'traditional' runners
- Jeff says 'I had switched to a standing desk about 4 months before hand'' take the Challenge to Stand at your desk
- 'I would pick up and set down a golf ball (bare feet), with each foot progressively holding longer as my feet strengthened.' You can also take the Pickup Artist Challenge to pick up many different size balls with your feet!
- The key to an injury-free transition to minimalist running is to start gradually and allow your body time to adapt to the new style.
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