Comment from: Barefoot Benny [Visitor]  
Barefoot Benny

Use your ears. If you hear your feet slapping the ground, you're doing something wrong! Take shorter, lighter steps, PULL your foot of the ground, and listen for silence. If you're running quietly, you're probably doing something right!

06/18/10 @ 12:29
Comment from: Brett Stewart [Visitor]
Brett Stewart

I wear KSO's every day to work and to work out/sprint at lunch so... they get quite smelly! I wash them at least once a week but that usually is not enough to stop the foot funk (I work in an office, not a commune). Lately, I have been spraying the toes with Lysol each night and it seems to help cut the stink down a bit. Baby powder helps hide the smell too... The best option is to have more than 1 pair and rotate them!

06/18/10 @ 12:31
Comment from: Another Justin [Visitor]
Another Justin

IIRC this site recommended doing a little bit of fully barefoot running before you get into the VFFs, and then work slowly from there. I'm always having to explain to people that you use different muscles when running barefoot or in my "lizard feet". So you will want to strengthen those up a little bit --DON'T go run 5 miles, but more like a lap around the block or so. Strengthen your muscles up a bit, and also get used to the new form. I would run two days in a row then take a day or two off so I wouldn't mess anything up.

Only by running barefoot can you really figure that form thing out. I felt like the goofiest dude ever running, rocking back and forth unsure if I want to be on my toes or midfoot or leaning on the outside edge of my feet, until I was able to get it down somewhat. "It seems to hurt less this way" turns out to be effective feedback.

06/18/10 @ 12:40
Comment from: Tripp From Austin [Visitor]
Tripp From Austin

I just try to feel like I'm leaning back and pulling my hips up with my abs. I know, sounds weird, but the leaning back makes it less likely I'll land on my heels first. And by bringing my abs into my stride, my perception is that I'm leaving my feet on the ground for the shortest period of time I can.

06/18/10 @ 12:41
Comment from: pcj [Visitor]

I know it's a cliche - but START SLOW

when I started out, I read everywhere that you should start slow, take it easy. I even thought I was. I felt great, felt strong and the miles felt easy. Until I hurt my foot from going to far too fast :)

06/18/10 @ 12:43
Comment from: Dave [Visitor]

I got my Vibrams for walking and brief bits of light jogging, and echo Benny. If you're going THUD with every step, you're doing it wrong. (The earbuds I usually wear when walking make this very obvious.) And if you're taking big wide strides, you're doing it wrong.

06/18/10 @ 12:57
Comment from: Mitch Hamm [Visitor]  
Mitch Hamm

When starting out you will be telling yourself not to heel strike. This can backfire and have you landing too far forward on the balls of your feet only. Your calf muscles will rebel in a major way with some DOMS that will bring tears to your eyes.

When you run, make sure you land on your forefeet but still utilize your heel to help support your weight. It happens naturally if you don't force it.

06/18/10 @ 12:57
Comment from: Jason [Visitor]

Read everything on this site, then read everything on Barefoot Ken Bob's site (. Then, go running, and enjoy the heck out of being liberated from ridiculous designer running shoes!!

06/18/10 @ 12:58
Comment from: Lightly Shod Matt [Visitor]
Lightly Shod Matt

As said before, light, short steps, land on the front of your foot, and pull your body forward.
Take your mileage up in very small increments, because you're learning a new style of running, your legs and all their working parts need time to adapt.
The most important thing is to enjoy what you're doing, be aware of your body and surroundings.

06/18/10 @ 12:59
Comment from: Claire [Visitor]

Transitioning to running in the VFF KSO, I ended up with some pain across the top of my foot, under the velcro strap, from my foot straining against it. However, the Classics still felt too loose without the mesh upper to hold them on my feet while running. Now I run with the strap of the KSOs as loose as possible. My foot still feel secure inside the VFF because of the mesh upper, but I no longer get pressure on my foot bones. Ta-dah!

Also, invest in The Stick or a foam roller. Your calves will thank you - especially after your first few runs!

06/18/10 @ 13:00
Comment from: Andrew [Visitor]

Always be scanning the ground in front of you for things to avoid stepping on. After some time you'll become much more accurate with foot placement, and you'll be able to nimbly dance around debris. This echoes the movement of our ancient ancestors and promotes a higher level of fitness (and fun!) than trodding along in sneakers while completely oblivious to the path ahead.

06/18/10 @ 13:05
Comment from: Ami [Visitor]

My best advice: minimal footwear is what you should wear for every kind of exercise/workout. In other words don't switch from running or lifting or plyo training in your over cushioned shoes a few days a week and running 2 days a week in your Vibrams (my fave choice for example!) Jump in with two bare feet as much as possible and I think you will train and condition your body to be faster, stronger and more comfortable.

PS For the mama runners out there who struggled with bottle feeding and/or breastfeeding their newborns- and the dads who may have also heard of "nipple confusion". Same thing, ha! Don't confuse your baby feet!

06/18/10 @ 13:06
Comment from: m00se [Visitor]

Don't over-do it. Take it slow and add distance over time.

06/18/10 @ 13:07
Comment from: Laura [Visitor]

Learn good form - posture (including engaging your core muscles) and how to relax your lower legs. And Gradual Progress! Great place to start is with ChiRunning!

06/18/10 @ 13:09
Comment from: BizanBandit [Visitor]

Don't try to run too many miles too quickly. I'm an experienced runner of more than 20 years, and I had to start out running very short distances--one or two miles at most--while barefoot or wearing FiveFingers. Your feet and calves will cry out in pain if you don't transition slowly.

06/18/10 @ 13:14
Comment from: Rob [Visitor]

Make sure you start off slow! Start off running barefoot/VFF at 10-15% of your normal running distance

06/18/10 @ 13:14
Comment from: Magus Shadow [Visitor]  
Magus Shadow

Stretching is always important, weather in Five Fingers, Shod, running or swimming, but it's especially important to pay attention to the full range of stretches available for your legs and calves as you are using muscles that previously were not often used. Keep up on the stretching to prevent strain and injury and to keep muscles from forming at a different rate from one another. Here is a nice site to go to, but there are all kinds of resources you can find online:

06/18/10 @ 13:21
Comment from: Bobby Gill [Visitor]  
Bobby Gill

Use. Common. Sense.

If something hurts, tone it down. Listen to your body. Let the form come naturally.

Remember that the road towards efficient running can be different for each person based on their particular biomechanics, flexibility, strengths and weaknesses. The perfect form for someone else may not be the perfect form for you. Don't force anything (aside from a higher cadence).

Barefoot/VFF running can be an invaluable tool in any runner's training toolbox, but until you have been running in this manner for multiple YEARS and built up the proper strength and flexibility to maintain constant high barefoot mileage, remember that it is a tool and not an end-all-be-all solution to be applied to 100% of your mileage.

Happy trails!

06/18/10 @ 13:24
Comment from: [Member]

Here's my own: I find that thinking "one one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand ... [up to 10]" where every step coincides with a syllable helps me keep my cadence fast -- goal being at least 180 steps per minute.

06/18/10 @ 13:25
Comment from: Philly Jen [Visitor]
Philly Jen

Supplement your current running schedule by doing the Couch to 5K program barefoot ( to make the transition. It's extremely low mileage on top of whatever you already run, and will give you time to find your barefoot stride without injury.

Yes, it takes longer, but good things come to those who wait.

06/18/10 @ 13:32
Comment from: Dan [Visitor]

1. Relax - hard to do at first, but keeping everything loose and not tense is key.
2. Good posture - I find I run most comfortably when I lean slightly forward so that my head is above where the feet are striking the ground.
3. Use the core - aka pick up your legs. You should be able to run up onto a curb without changing your stride or trying to "jump."
4. Stop if it hurts - "no pain, no gain" is not true in this case.
5. Stretch! I found stretches for plantar faciaitis are pretty good for working the foot and stretching the calves.

06/18/10 @ 13:39
Comment from: Aaron B. [Visitor]
Aaron B.

1) I know it's been said before, but start off slowly, even if only 100m at a time. For my first run in VFFs 2 years ago, I went about 4.5 miles; the feeling was exhilarating - I felt like I was flying, and just kept going!

LOL the only 'flying' I did for the next 10 days was in my mind, as I hobbled up & down the 3 flights of stairs to my work office, with my calves crying "mommy!" in a fetal position.

2) Run with your abs; the angle of your pelvis really affects the way you run.

3) I have been working on running more silently; lighter footfalls will be easier you. Like it has been said, if it hurts (inordinately during the beginning), you probably need to tweak some things.

4) I know it's obvious, but watch out for rocks - even though the soles are tough, any pointy rocks larger than a marble will still hurt!

06/18/10 @ 14:01
Comment from: Juggling Joe [Visitor]
Juggling Joe

Like others said:
Listen to your feet hitting the ground, be soft and quiet.
Go slow and gradual.
Let your forefoot land naturally.

Grab juggling balls and joggle to step up the awareness and fun factor.

06/18/10 @ 14:05
Comment from: Nathan [Visitor]

Like others have mentioned, running unplugged has been a key to making my transition to minimalist and more efficient form running.

Running barefoot at least once per week has been a close second to learning to run properly through ground/foot feedback.

Alan T also shared the advice of "listen to your body," and "be gentle with yourself." Great advice to run by.

06/18/10 @ 14:30
Comment from: Oscar Boykin [Visitor]
Oscar Boykin

Relax the lower leg. Think of your wrist bouncing a volleyball: the wrist is your ankle, the volleyball is the earth.

Don't push off too hard. Let the whole foot touch the ground (including the heel) before you propel.

Take your time.

Remember, tendons, ligaments and bones take longer to adapt than muscles. Just because you aren't sore, doesn't mean you aren't still adapting.

06/18/10 @ 14:40
Comment from: Kirk [Visitor]

Find a good coach! Seriously, someone who does barefoot or minimal footwear running, Crossfit Endurance, POSE or Chi Running and understands it. Nothing beats a good coach who can work you into it, give you drills and watch/ improve your form as you develop.

Best advice from my coach (Coach Brian @ NYC Endurance) as I was learning: watch the bending at the waist, pull not push (imagine you are running on hot coals), imagine being pulled forward by the belly button...and of course, fall into it.

I've been running in VFFs for two years - including all through the winter in Treks - and I still rely on Brian's great coaching to improve and get better.

06/18/10 @ 15:19
Comment from: 22209 [Visitor]

Train your feet/legs barefoot, and remember to run quietly when you do cover up your feet.

06/18/10 @ 15:25
Comment from: Nick Cruz [Visitor]
Nick Cruz

Watch for blisters when first starting out as well. Especially if going straight barefoot. Your feet will need some time to develop nice callouses (I learned the hard way).

06/18/10 @ 15:42
Comment from: Tripp From Austin [Visitor]
Tripp From Austin

I found this video of Anton Krupicka, who isn't wearing VFF's, but has the same kind of smooth, upright and seemingly effortless strides that we have to use with VFF's.

06/18/10 @ 17:02
Comment from: Rana [Visitor]  

Listen to your body - don't fall into the all-too-common runners' trap of "push through the pain."

If it hurts, stop. If today you don't have as much energy as yesterday, take it easy. If it feels good, enjoy it!

Most of all - have fun!

06/18/10 @ 17:44
Comment from: Noël Bodwell [Visitor]
Noël Bodwell

For me, trails have eliminated many of the transition problems others have suffered running on asphalt. Find some nice soft woodland trails and begin your transition on them.

06/18/10 @ 17:58
Comment from: Tim [Visitor]

Lots of great tips so far! If you consistently are doing long runs, get into the routine of getting monthly deep tissue sports massages. Helps loosen up tight calves!

06/19/10 @ 01:01
Comment from: Frederick [Visitor]

If you are going to start out barefoot running in vffs then what I suggest is to first walk in vffs for a couple of days and then transition to the treadmill. Continue on the treadmill with a one session at the end of a month on urban terrain, half of this distance you would normally run on the treadmill. Continue increasing your treadmill to urban terrain ratio routine over the required months until you have the choice of either environment. The treadmill can not provide the same sort of physical resistance provided by an urban environment. However what it is very good at, is controlling speed (opportunity to improve form) and providing significantly more cushioning than the urban environment is able to (strengthening joints). This will also go a long way to help strengthen the required muscles without “over” damaging muscles causing discomfort over the next couple of recovery days, (“Damaging” Muscle is torn or damaged every time we workout, it does so to regenerate bigger and stronger in preparation for the next workout) Take it easy! Muscle and joints takes time to strengthen. No one gets good stable gains in a day or two, it takes TIME!

06/19/10 @ 04:01
Comment from: NC Chris Johnson [Visitor]
NC Chris Johnson

At a minimum run barefoot to train your stride. Then adapt that lesson into the minimalist shoes. ANY shoe will allow for an inapropriate stride, barefoot teaches you best.
Decide what YOU want to do. Barefoot running is great. But determine whether being totally barefoot is what YOU want. It took me a great while to figure this out. I had the wrong goals to run barefoot. I have since continued to run barefoot for training, but have chosen Vibram Sprints for my distance efforts. Finished my first marathon in them June 12th (90 degree, humid southern heat)!
Read everyhting from Barefoot Ted, Barefoot Ken Bob, Birthday Shoes (except ANYONE calling minimalist running "barefoot running"), and Barefoot Josh ( NC.

06/19/10 @ 07:03
Comment from: Phil [Visitor]

Literature that I have read re Achilles tendinitis suggests that putting in a small heel lift and splitting the tendon cup in Bikilas will help reduce the rubbing which can lead to inflammation.

Also changing your gait to resemble that of a bicyclist. Short quick strokes. Chi running positions help. Also remember to strike mid-foot or forefoot. You can go flat footed but beware of jarring to the knees.

Calf Stretches and book stretches are great for the Achilles. Yoga is great too for getting the lower tendons in order.

06/19/10 @ 10:33
Comment from: Hendrix76 [Visitor]

Bodyglide on your ankles and tops of toes before a rainy run in Bikilas will make you unstoppable. You'll start to steer into the puddles, and the wet VFFs will become one with your feet.

06/20/10 @ 11:40
Comment from: Mike [Visitor]

My feet were pretty sore through the "adjustment" period. I read somewhere that rolling a tennis ball under your foot while sitting down helped stretch everything out and speed up the healing. I loved this trick, and sitting on the couch at night I would roll a ball up and down my foot pretty firmly while watching TV. My feet always felt better the next day and I'm sure it helped my feet adjust more quickly to five finger running.

06/20/10 @ 14:28
Comment from: Kathleen [Visitor]

1. Epsom salt does wonders for sore muscles and blisters. I truly believe baths with Epsom Salt have helped me heal anytime I've overdone it!
2. Listen to your body, listen to your foot falls. Silence is key to a comfortable stride!
3. Relax, relax, relax!!! If you're tense, you'll hurt yourself and you won't have as much fun. Make a conscious effort to chill out and relax while you run. You'll certainly have a much better time and will be less likely to over-do it that way!

06/20/10 @ 15:58
Comment from: Piet Barber [Visitor]
Piet Barber

If the VFF Sprints you've been running with for the past 500 miles develop a hole in the sole, a patch of black "duck tape" cut out in a circle, applied directly over the hole, followed by a generous application of "shoe goo" will patch it up for another 100 miles or so.

Since it's hard to find VFFs in stock either in stores or online any more (they fly off the shelves!) you might have to find a way to extend the life of your VFFs by a few more weeks while you wait for your favorite vendor (birthday shoes, of course) to get back in stock for your size and style.

06/21/10 @ 11:17
Comment from: JdB [Visitor]

The best advice I ever got was to act as if there is a small log you're stepping over. That should help your feet get off the ground just high enough and also keep your gait short and quick.

06/21/10 @ 11:19
Comment from: Mackenzie [Visitor]

I'd take JdB's advice one step further and say that in training yourself to a new shorter, high-cadence stride, it's really helpful to run trails that are actually full of obstacles like small logs. I love to run the forested paths in my local park, which is full of sequoia trees so the trails are very soft dirt and pine needles, interrupted occasionally by fallen branches and huge tangles of roots crossing the trail. Having to pick my way through these obstacles, while trying to maintain my speed (and not trip over my dog ;)) have really helped me turn a lighter, faster step into my norm. I still prefer trail running too because although physically it's more difficult for a beginning runner like me with a lot more climbs and descents and obstacles to get through, it's just mentally more interesting... when I'm out on the flat road with nothing else to think about, my mind gets the better of me with reminding me how tired I am and how much my muscles ache. It's really hard to keep myself going. Whereas on a trail, where the terrain is more varied, my mind is occupied with not tripping over anything, and with getting to the end of this trail so we can go find the next one.

06/21/10 @ 13:13
Comment from: Steve [Visitor]

If you want to use the Nike Plus system with your VFFs then get a velcor pouch for the sensor and loosely, yet securely, attach it to the velcro strap of the shoe on the anterior side. For example; I attached the sensor pouch to my right shoe, on the right side, as close to the velcro "buckle" that I can. I find that it is fairly accurate even without calibrating the sensor, and considering that I run for fitness based on time and not distance, it serves my purpose well and allows me to track my progress from run to run.

06/21/10 @ 13:14
Comment from: Kathy [Visitor]  

As many of you have mentioned, The MOST important advice is to GO SLOW in your training. After running barefoot (on a high school track) 3-4 times a week @2miles, 1 mile, 2 miles and sometimes 3 miles for a good month or so, I felt I had my form and technique down pretty good. Then I got my KSO's and started training 3 times a week in short intervals of 2 miles, 3 miles,2 miles. Everything felt good so I ran an 8K after training 2 weeks in my KSO. Not good. Ended up with a stress fracture that sidelined me for 5 weeks. I am back to SLOW training, 1 mile, 2 mile, 1 mile, 3 mile, and I will continue with this for another month. One thing I must say though...I need a t-shirt that says, "My shoes are called fivefingers!" because I am constantly stopped by people in awe of my VFF's and they want to know , "What is on your feet?"

06/21/10 @ 13:16
Comment from: cdhazen [Visitor]

I bought Evolution Running (DVD) from Amazon. I've totally changed my form based on these principles. My #1 tip (from the DVD)- start accelerating your foot back before it hits the ground. This will give you a light landing on your midfoot automatically.

06/21/10 @ 13:59
Comment from: Ben jasz [Visitor]
Ben jasz

For those of you waiting for your fivefingers, you can condition early by running on the balls of your feet in whatever shoes you have. as long as you keep a jogging pace the heels have minimal interference, so you can transition more quickly!

06/21/10 @ 19:10
Comment from: bspizzle [Visitor]

1. Stretch like crazy and walk barefoot as much as possible.

2. Go on small runs when you're bored, like around your apartments or the block you live on frequently.

3. Do toe exercises! extend and curl your toes as far as you can and as many times as you can, then switch to trying to wiggle your big toes and little toes independently from the others. This has helped me a ton with foot pain and recovery.

4. Keep your shoulders broad and your hands from crossing paths; ideally they shouldstay in front of your arms. This helps keep your lungs wide open in and let's you find your natural arm swinging rhythm.

5.NEVER LOOK DOWN! Keep your eyes in front of you to look for obstacles and try to sense your landing with your feet and listen with your ears. Slapping is bad, and looking at your feet throws off your form and deprives you of chest expansion to get in air.

6. Somewhat unrelated to barefooting, but important just the same: Do resistance training and LOTS of core training and the rest of your body will be able to adapt quickly. For me, this was the most important step in getting the results I wanted.

06/22/10 @ 16:23
Comment from: Mark Barnes [Visitor]
Mark Barnes

I started slow, but I still "tourched" my calves trying to run too much on the balls of my feet. I have been reading the book "ChiRunning", & LOVE it's method! Best runs I've ever had & now I'm slowly increasing my distance to several miles.

06/22/10 @ 22:09
Comment from: Amy [Visitor]  

Wow! These are all great tips! So I'll leave one that isn't related to form or getting used to your VFF's. How to get the stank out. I don't wear socks with mine because I feel it defeats the purpose. So they get stinky after a couple of months (initially, it took about 9 months or so for me to notice an unpleasant odor). If machine washing doesn't work when they get smelly, soak them in a bucket with 4 or 5 denture cleaner tablets. I soak them for a couple of hours and then (if possible) let them dry in the sun. Once they're dry (or mostly dry) throw them in the washer and use a sports wash (like Penguin or WIN). Remember to let them air dry. :)

06/23/10 @ 12:22
Comment from: THE bRAIN [Visitor]

I got several explinations on how to approach running in my KSO's. They were all very conservative approaches ranging from 400M to 2 miles, per week for a month or so. Just because someone said it is, does not mean it is true. I've tried to live by this for some time now. Inspite of what I was told I ran 25 miles the first week with no problems and loved them since they touched my feet. I'm not saying this because I want to brag, it just seems like the advice I've recieved in the past feels like it limits the psychy. Don't limit yourself becuase of someone elses experience, were all better then that.
See ya on the trail- Brian

07/13/10 @ 21:09

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