Comment from: Rich [Visitor]

Thanks for sharing. I am going through a very similar experience. I ran Boston 08 with severe knee pain and have been unable to train for another marathon since. I discovered VFFs a few months ago and, like you, started way too quickly - 4.5M the first day and doing 100% of my mileage in them after about 5-6 weeks. I ended up with severe top-of-foot pain that has kept me out for about a month, and I'm now trying to very slowly get back to running in a combination of regular and minimal shoes (slowly increasing the % in minimal shoes).

Born to Run has been great for spreading the minimal/barefoot message, but more education is needed on how gradual the transition really has to be.

04/30/10 @ 16:01
Comment from: Jimmy Hart [Visitor]  
Jimmy Hart

Great Story Sam! I enjoy reading about someone saying to take it slow and demonstrating that. I hate that you had to find that path through injury but most times for runners, injuries are the best teachers. Keep it up and I bet you hit sub 3 hrs soon based on the improvements you have made so far.

04/30/10 @ 16:15
Comment from: Chris [Visitor]

I am about a month and half into my transition into barefoot/minimalist running and the thing that has been most beneficial during this time has been taking the shoes off and going completely barefoot. I noticed that when I was barefoot that the calf pain wasn't nearly as bad, especially on downhill grades. The difference was in my stride. It is much shorter with a higher turnover rate. Once I transferred this form over to my vff runs, it was like a light switch was turned on. I am now able to add distance and speed to my runs with a lower heart rate than running the same speed with traditional running shoes. I am currently running up to eight to nine miles (30 miles/week) at the same speed as I was with my Asics with virtually no calf pain.
I should add that I have added some weight training and bicycling into my workouts as well which have also helped my transition. I am now looking forward to completing my first VFF (sixth altogether) marathon this fall.

04/30/10 @ 17:21
Comment from: seret [Visitor]

Thanks for sharing the story Sam! I 100% agree with your Tips. You're right. It IS a never ending process.

Here's to healthy happy running in VFFs!

04/30/10 @ 19:44
Comment from: Dan [Visitor]


Good story and nice race! I also completed my first VFF marathon in Boston a few weeks ago.

To start off - I AM NOT ADVOCATING THAT ANYONE TRANSITION AS FAST AS I DID! I was able to work into the VFFs in about 2 months. I started out in late January, running 1 - 2 miles of cool down on the dreadmill barefoot (before I owned VFFS). By mid-feb I was in the VFFs for 4 - 5 mile runs (typical on treadmill) with 8 mile runs being my longest. I started out doing about 20 miles a week in the VFFs in February - to keep my cardio "marathon ready", I was doing about 4 hours a week (in my VFFs) on a cross trainer to keep the impact down on my legs. During the initial break-in, I was only running on roads maybe once per week in the VFFs.

In March I started doing more outdoor work on the VFFs, and went back to an "all running" training. I did about 80% of all my mileage on soft gravel trails to help prevent any foot injuries from making the transition too fast. To get myself used to the roads, I was trying to do about 8 miles a week on pavement.

I didn't really get onto roads until a few weeks before the race. While I was a little worried about this going in, I made it through the race and haven't sustained any of the "typical" injuries from a fast transition.

All that being said - I agree with everything you say! The smart thing is to transition slowly - but if you are looking to do it a little faster - it doesn't hurt to try and stay off the roads and do some work on some nice soft trails (or grass) to prevent the impact injuries to the feet.

04/30/10 @ 20:06
Comment from: Chris Johnson [Visitor]
Chris Johnson

Funny how many posts I read about over-enthusiasm when trying minimalist running. Maybe McDougall should add a big banner page at the end of his book warning everyone to slow down.

I am training for my third marathon this year (and in my life), first with VFFs and have made all the mistakes mentioned. Primarily trying distance before discovering an effective stride. The result was cheating with too much heel and not enough forefoot and then limping for several weeks.
Two months into the effort this past week was the "a-ha" moment for me as far as stride is concerned. How? Well I am a 53 year old SLOW runner (4:45 marathon) but love it. I kept tweaking my stride and felt more and more awkward. I bought every book and DVD and looked at many websites. Then it occured to me that none of the strides I was exploring felt natural, too forced, and also I could never hope for distance if I was trying to reinvent myself. So I added more barefoot running into each effort, decided to slow WAY down (180 cadence no longer a focus) and RELAX, RELAX, RELAX. The result was wonderful. I have much more to do and I agree the learning is ongoing. But for the first time my June marathon does not look ominous over the horizon.
I LOVE barefoot/VFF running!

05/01/10 @ 07:46
Comment from: Juggling Joe [Visitor]
Juggling Joe

Nice job, Sam! Welcome to the world of VFF marathoning, it's a great way to go :)
I kinda had to rush through my conditioning a bit before I joggled the Philadelphia Marathon Nov 2009 (3:31). It would have been a little better to take more to transition, but now I know the value of gradual training and patience. Just joggled a 10K and I am building up my mileage again. Slowly but surely.

Good tips to go by. Nice write up.

05/01/10 @ 14:47
Comment from: Dan D. [Visitor]  
Dan D.

Fantastic work Sam, you'll be hitting that sub-3 in no time.
Throughout your whole VFF experience have you been using the same pair of KSOs? I'm hesistant to buy myself a pair of them because I can't deal out that kind of coin and then have them wear out on me in a month. Thanks for the advice!

05/02/10 @ 10:26
Comment from: Kris [Visitor]  

Nice one. :)

Just got some KSO's this week, but have been walking and running in Vivo barefoot shoes for the past 6 weeks. Prior to this I have not ran at all anywhere for over 12 years, so I figured my overall fitness may as well build up with my feet and calf strength! To start with I could only run 100 yards before getting out of breath, never mind miles! For me there was no chance of overdoing anything. ;)

The reason why I have never liked running prior to trying barefoot shoes was due to my flat feet, and especially my knees doing this horrible 'clicking' when I ran in trainers. I probably guessed right that this was *not* a good sign... I was also clumsy. So I guessed I wasn't designed to run.

After 6 weeks I can now run a 1 mile route 3 times a week (with 3 short walk breaks in each one) This is more than I have ever done in my life, however I have had to take this down to twice a week this week and cut the distance a bit, because the muscles just around the inside of my ankles feel taut and sore. I have no idea what it is as my calves feel ok. Guess I just need to be patient!

05/02/10 @ 17:51
Comment from: Adrian [Visitor]  

Without examining your feet & ankles, its a bit hard to tell you what the problem is, but it sounds like a posterior tibial tendonitis.
Last year, I worked my way SLOWLY up to 5km runs, barefoot or in KSOs. My calves looked great by the end of it, though they were limiting at the start.
I took a break over the winter months, since I couldn't find a pair of Flows in my size, and didn't want to put the heel-strikers back on to run in the snow. Anyway, back out for the past few weeks, and I got just felt so good, and with no calf or foot difficulties this time. So, I "pushed it" one day, and ran twice my usual distance in the KSOs... A day or two later, I was nursing a dull, aching tightness just below and behind my inner ankles (medial malleoli). Anyway, I've self-diagnosed myself with Posterior tibial tendonitis - and have forced myself to avoid running for the past 2 weeks. Lesson learned. There REALLY should be a disclaimer on these things... if you can't run the distance BAREFOOT (and your skin will let you know...), then you CANT run it in a pair of VFF.

05/04/10 @ 00:14
Comment from: Shawn McKenzie [Visitor]  
Shawn McKenzie

Yikes. I'm not doing marathons, but am in the midst of transitioning too soon. I've got some of the same signs: pain on the top of my foot in particular. I'm trying to rest in between, but I love running in them so much it is actually hard for me to go out in my Asics.

Been blogging about my transition at

Interesting that I'm making the same mistakes as everyone else. It is very difficult not to do too much too fast. I just want to do all my runs in them (and maybe double my mileage).

I've done several 7km runs & I'm pretty sure I'm going to do the Sun Run 10k here in Vancouver this Sunday. I've only been running in these for 3 weeks, but the distance I'm doing seems manageable if I rest a couple days in between.

05/05/10 @ 17:17
Comment from: Billy [Visitor]

One thing I think is most important with the running in the vff's is using a Tiger Tail or other muscle roller before and after running. Really helps with the calf soreness.

05/06/10 @ 17:36

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