I'm intimidated by the idea of going totally barefoot. And I'm cheap, so I'm not eager to buy minimalist shoes unless I absolutely have to. Is it possible to learn to a midfoot strike wearing my regular cushion shoes (Brooks Defyance)? Or would I be much better off investing in a pair of minimalist shoes? Would appreciate your wisdom.
what exactly is intimidating to you? are you worried about hurting your feet or sustaining an injury?
what do you want to get out of barefoot/minimalist running? you can land your foot however you want in most any shoe. i think if you are planning on a transition it could help to start in the trainers to get those new muscles firing and start stretching the Achilles tendon. as far as what shoe to wear, i dont have much advice in that department.
you would be much better off finding a place outside that you feel comfortable walking around barefoot and do that for a while. work your way onto the sidewalk or path, the more you do it the better you get and before you know it youre getting faster then youre running.
I suppose I'm anxious about the footpain (stepping on pebbles and stuff). And my interest is in seeing if a barefoot/minimalist style of running eliminates the knee pain I developed last time I ran a marathon . . . that being the only time I've run a marathon. Anyway, on that occasion, my right knee started to hurt once I got up to about 9 or 10 miles on my training runs.
Well, you have a couple of options about the shoes. You can buy water shoes at sporting goods stores for $5-10 and practice in them. I did that, and I also bought one pair of minimalist shoes (Nike Free 5.0 @ $85) to wear during the day casually and at work, to strengthen the different muscles I was using and www.eastbay.com has racing flats for $19-49. I think wearing shoes like that is why I didn't have any trouble at all with sore calves or legs - my feet got a little sore sometimes, but that was simply telling me the distance was a little too much for that particular run.
You'll notice BF there are different "grades" of pavement. In my area, it's all asphalt but there is rough (older, usually) pavement, really smooth pavement, and surfaces in between. So, I usually do my shorter runs on the rougher pavement because it's no problem being a shorter run and it helps keep my feet in shape. Long runs I do on a long newly paved and smooth "rails to trails" bike path.
The easiest way for me to learn to run barefooted comfortably and for long distances was to walk BF for a few minutes after each shod run, and to just walk BF longer on some of my rest days. After awhile I interspersed jogging various short distances into my BF walking and committed to several months of this, steadily increasing my BF distance. Your eyes will help you avoid obstacles and your feet will learn to "roll over" or compensate for many of the few things you may not see. You'll find out that it's actually enjoyable and fun. And BTW, my running injuries went away (I do about half my running BF & the other half in minimalist shoes), so maybe yours will too!
"I can do 440 in 220" Half Fanatic #846 "90% of running is half mental" If I collapse, please pause my Garmin
Last November I prepared myself to run minimalist (haven't transitioned to barefoot, too cold and the Gym I run at doesn't allow bare-feet.) by cutting my stride length, quickening my stride tempo and concentrating on forefoot/ mid-foot foot plant. I was wearing Waverunner 13's for most of these runs.
This worked very well for me. I started running in VFF's in January and have managed to increase my mileage to 17 MPW with no serious problems. I plan on trying the bare-foot thing once it gets warm enough to run outside regularly.
I took a full year to make the transition. I did a whole lot of BF walking, then later very short BF runs (one block). I think it's important for your feet to feel the ground (concrete sidewalks and asphalt in my case) in order to re-learn how to run.
Now I wear Vibrams for most of my running, but will be doing some BF and in huaraches when the weather is warmer.
It was SO worth it - no more knee pain, more endurance, and running now is a lot more fun.
Well at least someone here is making relevance to the subject.
I should add that I am very rarely in shoes. I work at home, don't wear shoes in the house, so the only time I am not in stocking feet is when I need to run out for errands.