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Edward Edmond’s Minimalist Approach to Marathon Training utilizes Barefoot Running and Racing Flats

We first ran across Edward Edmonds a few weeks ago in a youtube video of him running barefoot and posted it in our Link Love section. Later we discovered on his blog that he training full time as a runner and has the ultimate goal to run a marathon under…

We first ran across Edward Edmonds a few weeks ago in a video of him running barefoot and posted it in our Link Love section. Later, we discovered from his blog that he trains in Europe full time as a runner with the goal of running a marathon under 2:20 and competing in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials. We were curious about how he incorporates barefoot running into his training and contacted him for an interview. Although he does not run exclusively barefoot or in Vibram Five Fingers, he does run barefoot to improve his form and trains in very lightweight minimalist racing flats.

Below is what Edward shared with us —

Interview with Edward Edmonds

What is your goal as a full-time runner?

Right now, my goal is to run a sub 2:20 marathon before the 2016 Olympics so that I can qualify to run in the time trials. So while that is my end goal, currently I’m focused on the 10k, 15k, and half marathon.

What is your plan to achieve that goal?

After my first marathon was basically when I decided to train full time, and by full time I mean that that is my job–eat, sleep, and run 7 days a week. Quite honestly I haven’t done much racing, I have the attitude of racing to win, so once my training time trials start to point towards times that will allow me to actually compete at a decent level, then I will start a regular racing schedule. Currently for the past two years excluding my first 3 months of training, I’ve been training anywhere from 15-20 hours a week. And that has been mostly base building and hill work plus time trials. In general it takes about 4 years to develop an athlete to be competitive at a high level and even that is at the bottom of the scale. I’m 2 years and some change into that process and largely self coached but I do have a handful of sub 2:30 mentors.

When and why did you make the transition to barefoot/minimalistic running?

After 2 weeks of running in “traditional” running shoes, I asked the question: “Why should I run in “these” when the African runners are wearing much less?” The whole idea of running in minimal footwear just made more logical sense when I got down to thinking about it. So basically since the beginning I’ve been running in flats and doing barefoot drills.

How did you perfect your form and stride?

Running completely barefoot taught me the most. It’s a completely different experience when you’re running barefoot, it teaches you something that not even VFF’s can teach you 100% properly.

It teaches you to listen to your feet, if your feet hurt–outside of the adjustment period–then most likely you are doing something wrong; if your feet feel good most likely your doing something right. I take a simplistic approach when it comes to that–and mastering the technique that is right for moving your center-of-gravity most efficiently in my opinion is best learned by paying extremely close attention to how your feet feel.

Outside of the barefoot realm though, the most effective tool in my training toolbox has been hill running, and for me that means once a week running up and down a 800m to 1k hill for 40-60 minutes. I have a belief that when your most fatigued that that is when you learn to run
most efficiently.

I think though that mainly besides the barefoot drills and hill running that having good form comes with consistency in training, in other words, practice–you can’t expect to have perfect form after one day of barefoot training, your brain has to learn first and get used to the sensory information and over time your body will follow. Practice makes perfect–I think that going completely barefoot makes this process even faster.

How do you include barefoot running in your training?

I do barefoot training at least once a week, but most weeks 2 times. That training usually consists of maybe 4 x 4 minutes before or after an easy run. The reason I do reps instead of a long blocks is because I think that when you do a short session and then stop and repeat it teaches you to adjust quicker i.e. fall into the correct rhythm.

Video of Edward on one of his 4 x 4 minute barefoot training runs.

Do you ever run in Vibram Five Fingers?

I did for a while, but eventually I decided that I responded better to training that was completely barefoot. That’s just me though, plenty of people get along fine with them.

Which model of Five Fingers do you prefer?

When I was wearing VFF’s, I wore the “Classic” model.

I noticed on your blog that you also run in the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 racing flats. What do you like about them?

They are simple, flexible, and lightweight. They do what a shoe is supposed to, provide protection–nothing more and nothing less. There is nothing particular about the Mizuno brand that I like expect that I like the good design, if another manufacturer came out with something similar and less expensive I’d wear those. In my case VFF’s don’t fit that bill and in the past I have had the bruises and stubbed toes to prove it.

If your only purpose is to get from point A to point B in the fastest possible time you’ve got to wear some type of protection.

While I will not argue the point that our ancestors were not in stability shoes that restricted foot movement. I find it preposterous that people think that our ancestors explored the world and the 7 seas barefoot. In fact I would argue that the “shoes” they were wearing gave them the extended range they needed to explore different parts of the world and to survive in different climates. In their case they were using their “technology” for protection not for bio-mechanical

What shoes do you wear in races?

All of my training except for the barefoot portions are done in flats. I’ve been wearing the Mizuno Wave Universe 2’s and 3’s ever since they first appeared on the market. However, since the beginning I’ve always wanted something with the mesh upper but a little bit thicker of a midsole–for the past few weeks I’ve been training exclusively in Nike Streak XC 2 racing flats and I can’t really see myself going back to the 3’s unless it’s for anything under a 10k. I have a peak half marathon coming up in October and more than likely I will run in the Nike’s.

Are there any pointers you can give to folks to be more successful in transitioning to barefoot running?

It depends on your goals really. For somebody like me who wants to compete at a high level you have to balance staying injury free with giving yourself the right amount of protection so that you can nail your weekly key workouts without of the fear of getting a ridiculous injury like a bruised foot bone or something that is completely preventable if you would have had something on your feet. You can’t run a key workout to your full potential if your constantly worried about where your stepping–unless of course you’re on a well maintained track.

Successful running at a high level requires a lot of things, but the most important thing is uninterrupted and consistent training–in order to achieve that goal you have to control as many variables as possible including unprotected feet. It would be silly to miss out on valuable training because of unpractical ideals. So you have to find a balance between allowing your feet to move how they are supposed to and also providing them with some level of comfortable protection.

Outside of that though the best advice I can give when training either barefoot or in VFF’s is to give your feet and body ample time to adjust. People get really excited about this stuff when they find out about it, but what they don’t realize is that a little bit of barefoot training goes a long way. That’s the biggest thing, take it easy, I say if your dead set on wearing the VFF’s, start completely nude, then use the VFF’s to extend your range to whatever your goals are.

Obviously people are out there running marathons completely barefoot, I think that’s pretty darn cool, but once you start to get past that, the reality that your feet are made out of flesh starts to sink in and that’s when you realize that yeah, while “traditional” running shoes aren’t ideal, you certainly need something on your feet. In other words using shoes to correct so-called” bio-mechanical deficiencies seems odd, however, if you wear no-frill shoes such as flats or VFF’s that offer some amount of protection, then that seems perfectly reasonable to me.

In an ideal world, we’d all have shoes on that basically resemble a flat or VFF’s and there would be no such thing as a podiatrist. [In fact over here in Europe you see that most folks wear something resembling a flat.] But the fact is, most people in the western developed world are “bred” with shoes on their feet, so we kind of grow up with the built in deficiency of weak feet–so we have a lot foot problems. For people who are busy and don’t have the luxury of training to make their feet stronger sometimes orthotics and stability shoes are more of a quality of life thing then anything else.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Anyway, I’m just a guy with a goal/dream, that’s all. Quite honestly I don’t have a long or extensive resume as far as running goes that gives me any more credibility than the next guy sounding off–everybody’s got a theory it seems. And while I think that “training your feet” is a good thing, ultimately you’ve got to find what works for you and allows you to train to reach whatever your goals may be, whether it’s to run 5k or a Spartathon, do whatever you need to do, to train, stay healthy, and ultimately enjoy life…

Edward, thanks for sharing your terrific insights and good luck on achieving your goal.

Footnote on Racing Flats

While training in racing flats may not be everyone’s idea of minimalist running, it is an option chosen by some forefoot strike runners that provides added protection in an ultra light shoe. The Nike Air Zoom Streak XC 2, that Edward now runs in, weighs in at 5.4 oz. while the Mizuno Wave Universe 3 is a mere 3.6 oz. By contrast, the Vibram Five Fingers Bikila weighs 6.0 oz. Weight is, of course, only a single metric. Bikilas are flexible and thin-soled despite being a tiny bit heavier. So, there certainly are many factors to consider when evaluating a minimalist shoe. Many racing flats will have too much support or too great of a heel-toe drop for people who want a more barefoot-feel. Also, extra padding could mean losing some feel for the road.

Have you ever tried running in racing flats? What do you think about using racing flats as a minimalist running shoe? Sound off below in the comments!

By Britt

Hailing from College Station, Texas (Home to Texas A&M!), I grew up running cross country. Believe it or not, I gave Justin the name for this site back in early 2009 but I didn't jump on the toe shoes bandwagon until a year later. I am also really into quadcopters and drones and have a blog called

9 replies on “Edward Edmond’s Minimalist Approach to Marathon Training utilizes Barefoot Running and Racing Flats”

First of all, I think you posted the wrong video. But the one you did post is a good one as well.

Secondly, it was interesting to read Edward’s view on barefoot and minimalist training. He still seems a little pessimistic about what our feet are capable of, though. With good barefoot running technique, the chance of injury is very, very minimal.

There are rumors that many elite runners do some of their training barefoot.

Great interview with Edward. I really like his practical approach to running and keeping a balance based on the individual’s body and fitness level. I have been running in VFFs for about 3 weeks, and before that I would throw in a few barefoot sessions. It has greatly helped me improve my form and it makes running in regular shoes more enjoyable. I really want to get some racing flats to train in as well, ones that would allow me to extend my distance and also transition well on both road and trail. Any suggestions?


There are lots of racing flat choices out there. Some are more for road racing and some are more for trails. For instance, the Saucony Grid Type A4 is more of a road racer, while the Saucony Shay XC 2 is more of a trail racer. The latter comes in a flat or with spikes.

I bought the Saucony Shay XC 2 and ended up returning them. They are a great shoe, but obviously designed for XC trails. If you’re looking for a flat for trails, I would suggest these. But since I wanted to use them on roads and tracks, I decided they weren’t the best choice and decided to just get it over with and get a pair of the Mizuno Wave Universe 3s. Hopefully those will work better for me.

I run in nothing but racing flats and my VFF Bikilas. I was lucky enough to research running shoes before I started running on a regular bases, so right from the get go my legs started getting used to minimalist shoe. Today I can’t bare the thought of running in regular running shoes. They are too bulky, heavy and I sure don’t “feel” any of the so called technology that has gone into them. They look pretty and colorful and that’s where the interest stops for me. I run in the Asics Piranha SP 2’s that weigh about 4.2 oz.

Great interview, nice to see the views of competitive runners. It seems to me that many/most representatives from the barefoot running community are not very result-oriented.

I do think that for racing a marathon, shoes can improve performance by delaying fatigue of lower legs, and make it possible to maintain speed even when technique breaks down a bit towards the end of the race. However, this will be a balance between weight on your feet and what you gain, a balance which probably varies between people.

In the barefoot community I often hear “barefoot is the best”, but I rather think like this runner that “barefoot is the base”. Train minimal and barefoot, and compete in shoes, but no more shoe than you need. The more barefoot base, the less shoe you need.

i tried running in my sprints, but the strap rubbed a lot on the top of my foot. i ran a half marathon in flows, which worked pretty well. they were too big, though, so i sold them to a friend and moved on to terra plana EVOs. i like them pretty well. the blister issues are gone, and i don’t have to talk about them with other runners during the race.

i have looked into racing flats, but most of them have a positive heel, which really feels awful after a year of dedicated minimal running. the flattest i’ve found is the asics pirhana SP3. 14mm heel, 10mm forefoot. if nike ever came out with a version of free that was flat, i think i’d buy 10 pairs. but they’re too narrow.

I’m thrilled to read this actually. I’ve been doing roughly the same thing as it just “felt right” given that occasionally my VFF’s literally rubbed me the wrong way on the toes (I just have big fat toes).

Since I’m training for the Marine Corps Marathon, I can’t just take two or three days off to nurse a blister or a sore forefoot.

I’ve been supplementing with racing flats (Nike Waffle Zoom)and just love the combination. The distance hasn’t bothered me really and I’m moving my distances up enough to be able to hold onto my form.

I thought I might be the only guy in this camp that says “always barefoot might not be that great either” so this is interesting for me to see.

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