Barefoot Running Training Tips

For your barefoot speed work outs

Run uphill, walk down hill – when running uphill it is more difficult for a runner to strike heel first, the opposite is true for running downhill. For anyone running more than a sprint speed workouts are concerned with achieving maximum heart rate more so than anaerobic output. So there is no need to bang your self up sprinting downhill.

Shorten your stride – if you are noticing that the more you speed up the more likely you are to heel strike it is probably due to a long stride that lands in front of your body rather than under your hips. The solution – shorten your stride and focus on turnover rate (try to reach 180 steps per minute,) rather than stride length to increase your speed.

For your long runs

Take some minimal shoes with you on your long runs – If you are miles from home and find yourself suddenly running on sharp rocks or trudging through sticker bushes you will greatly appreciate having a little something to cover your feet.

Don’t run in the cold – A little cold is fine, but once your feet go numb injuries may go unnoticed until they become severe. Don’t be so bravado as to lose your toes to frostbite.

For your Recovery

Stretch and massage sore muscles – this is true for all runners, but for those transitioning to a minimalist running or barefoot running, you may have noticed, the muscles of the foot and calf will need extra attention. Check out barefoot running legend Ken Bob strtching those calves. Good job Ken Bob!

Resistance training

Train barefoot – As long as you are not training with heavy weights feel free to perform your resistance training barefoot. Single leg, proprioceptive enriched, (balance), exercises will help to strengthen not only the stabilization muscles used in barefoot running, but also the muscles of the core. See our sample resistance training for barefoot runner’s article. **Do not lift heavy weight while barefoot.**This could cause unnecessary trauma to the foot.

2 Responses to Barefoot Running Training Tips

  1. Dawn says:

    I’m up to 9 miles (over 27 miles a week) in my Vibrams. I want to go natural. Should I start out at 3 miles or less/more? I have no one to ask where I live (the Upper Penninsula of MI) and is there a book I can purchase for this type of training?

    • slwebb says:

      Hi Dawn,
      It is best to start small to avoid foot tenderness and blisters. Take your Vibrams with you on your run. Run the first mile with no shoes, then when feet begin to get sore put on your Vibrams for the rest of the run. Then take your time increasing mileage.

      In the “books” section there are various books that will give an in-depth step by step process. I would Recommend “The Barefoot Running Book” by Jason Robilard.

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