Got a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves for Xmas. I am not convinced I want to fully transition into minimalist shoes for all of my runs - but perhaps once or twice a week. I have a few questions:
1) Their website offers a 40 day transition plan which culminates in a 1.5 mile run in the shoes - any opinion on this transition plan - http://www.merrell.com/US/en/BarefootConnection
2) Can I still maintain my regular training runs while following this plan too ? For example on Day 2 it suggests walking outside for 30 minutes barefoot. I assume I can do this on an off day or even later in the day on a normal training day for me ? Or will this activate some muscles that I dont use and I'll be too sore to do my normal training run in my regular shoes ?
3) It is too cold where I live to take a 30 minute walk outside - think it is OK to just walk on a treadmill ?
4) Finally, any problems running in regular training shoes (currently Mizuno Wave Riders) and switching once or twice a week to the Merrells ?
I scanned a few days of the transition plan you linked to and it looks fine, but it seems to be ulta-conservative. Build up to a 1.5 mile run in the Merrells in a month or so? Heck, you can probably do that now with no problems. The M's are still shoes with a hard outsole. Maybe don't do everything in them for now if you want to do a transition, but do your short runs or every couple of days in them and see how it is - take it from there and you'll probably progress a lot further & a lot quicker than you might think! Don't be afraid to experiment, but don't "push it" to the point of discomfort either.
I think a "transition" really applies more to going from regular running shoes to Vibram FFs or to completely barefoot. But many of the posters on this forum have gone from shoes to barefoot with no transition period (I transitioned).
Walking barefoot frequently is great for conditioning your feet properly. Do your runs (it probably doesn't matter what shoe you use) and then walk BF afterward for a few minutes outside, maybe every other day or so. Try 10 minutes, then build. Even if it's cold and you can only do 5 minutes - every little bit helps. It won't hurt to find other ways to strengthen your feet (as the plan suggests), especially if you decide to do some barefoot running later on.
MTA: For some good info, check out the Minimalist Running section at
(sorry - not sure why this isn't linking...)
"I can do 440 in 220" Half Fanatic #846 "Ninety percent of running is half mental"
Decker Challenge 09/12
Running in the Merrell's will activate your Achilles and calves more than other running shoes. I would suggest not doing long hill workouts on either side of the day you run in the minimal shoes or go barefoot since it also stresses the Achilles and calves - as I learned the hard way last year.
bob e v 2013 goals: keep on running! Is there anything more than that?
Finish halves, 3M Half 1/13 and probably Decker Challenge in DecHistory: blessed heart attack 3/15/2008; c25k july 2008 first 5k 10/26/2008 on 62nd birthday.
Prince of Fatness
I just bought a pair of Trail Gloves about a month ago. I run mostly in light weight trainers mixing in flats. Once a week I would go out for a couple of miles barefoot. I bought the gloves because it's too cold for me to run barefoot in the winter. The plan is to get used to the gloves during the winter and then when the weather warms split between the gloves and barefoot once a week.
Now to your questions.
1) To be honest I didn't look at the plan but since I was going out for 2 miles once a week barefoot I substituted the gloves for that run.
2) I think so. Just listen to your body (well, your feet and lower legs). You will most likely feel some effects from getting started in the gloves. I think that the trick is taking your time working the gloves into your routine. There's no hurry. It took me a good part of a year to run a couple of miles barefoot once a week.
3) I don't see why you can't walk on the treadmill. It sure beats sitting!
4) I try to mix my foot wear up. Light weight trainers, flats, the gloves, and barefoot. Variety is good, I think.
What I really found interesting is that it was a bit more difficult adjusting to the gloves vs, completely barefoot. Because there is some cushioning with the gloves, I found that I still needed to focus on my foot strike. With barefoot it is much less forgiving so the more forward foot strike happened naturally, if that makes sense. The other thing that I noticed is that the gloves are noisy on pavement. The first time I ran in them I tried to run quiet and it did not work too well. The next time I didn't worry about the noise and just focused on how my feet were landing. Much better.
Enjoy the gloves.
I just started reading Barefoot Ken Bob's book, "Barefoot Running Step by Step" (bought autographed copy in Sept at Merrell Naked Foot 5K that was also personalized by co-author Roy Wallack, finally got chance to start reading it)
In the "Feetback Loop" section, page 58, he quotes Nicholas Romanov, creator of the Pose Method, saying that with such a change in bio-mechanics (Pose being similar to BF) "generally takes from two weeks to six months to adapt" basically because wearing shoes weakens muscles, tendons, and skeleton by lack of use.
So plan on it taking longer than the Merrell transition plan to fully adapt to BF. Ken Bob also suggests transition should be Shod, BF, then minimal because minimal still blocks sensation/feeling as well as motion of the foot. I haven't finished the book yet, but he also encourages doing more BF on gravel/rough trail surfaces as opposed to concrete/asphalt road beds because it forces one to use more bent knee to run softly enough to handle the rougher surfaces. Looks like I'll be do more form mods on the gravel path slightly over a mile from my house. I probably need more bent knee (not high knee lift, bent knee... I need to really learn and understand the difference!)
After yesterdays 2 hr run (in VFF Sprints) Started the year with a barefoot recovery walk, 2.1mi, 38min. When I got the gravel trail I tried "being one with the rocks" as BF Ken Bob says in his book... well it didn't work. Worse than the other day - think cold feet are part of the cause. I kept deepening squat to deepen knee bend but didn't work. I kept knees bent more during most the walk especially on the downhills. Can feel it in my quads and am not sure if that is a negative - means I was lifting the knee not the foot?
Great feedback - thaks for the responses. I just read an article in Outside magazine saying maybe barefoot is not the way to go. Maybe I should just return the Merrells! Doubt it - I will likely give it a try - slowy seems like the way to ease into it:
I should have mentioned that BF Ken Bob strongly suggests making the transition to minimal using BF first, not last. He has a table showing how any foot coverings (including socks!) reduce touch sensitivity and thus can affect form. I've heard others say Shod, BF, then minimal shoe so that one has proper form when going into minimals. I know starting with VFF Bikilas did not immediately get me to change from heel landing to fore foot landing - no pain induced by heel landing. The landing shock was more noticeable and helped me transition, but slower than when I took the dang things off and ran BF once the construction debris in my neighborhood was gone. Note to that Ken Bob also recommends running on roughest surface you can find at first so that one learns how to land lightly on their feet.... man that's something I haven't mastered yet myself! LOL
Oh, good article. Lots of truth in it!
That's an interesting article. The author is apparently a well respected writer & researcher and is well-published in major media (NYT, RW, etc.). Although I think she's "right on" with a lot of her stuff and provides plenty of food for thought, some of her statements seem to be controversial (that can make for good writing, too!) or somewhat naive.
Quote: Myth: Running barefoot is better
Truth: It all depends on body type and discipline
From personal experience, running BF certainly takes discipline, at least initially. It's a myth only if it doesn't work. I wonder what body types can't run BF (never heard of that one before).
Quote: Injury: Heel pain or plantar faciitis
Switch: No. ...you'll be pounding that sore heel without any padding
I've read a lot of testimonials that running BF eased or prevented PF (myself included), but not one that BF caused or worsened it. I suspect neither the author or her source has run BF, or she would know that the heel striking caused by "protective" running shoes is greatly diminished by running barefoot (or in shoes with no heel lift). Running without shoes naturally transfers the foot strike mostly to the midfoot/ball of the foot. In my case, my heel still touches the ground when BF, but it's very light - especially in comparison to running with shoes, and I have plenty of natural padding on my heel to compensate.
I think the bottom line is that barefoot running is a personal choice and most people may not need to do it (if it ain't broke...). The biggest mistake that people make IMHO is to try it just a couple of times, or for only a short time, or do too much too soon. Like many things, this is a subject that cannot be generally categorized as either good or bad, beneficial or detrimental. It's an individual thing. What if maybe BF isn't the way to go? My smart-aleck answer is "What if it is?".
Thank you for this thread, as I'm just searching how to transition from shod to barefoot running.
I'm returning to running since a few weeks, after having been off for at least a half year (and only started running rather inconsistently at age 46).
I'm waiting for milder temperatures before starting to run barefoot. (However, I have the impression that it's colder to walk barefoot than to actually run outside now...)
Inside, I've tossed my slippers, and I try to walk at least from the gardendoor to our garage and from the kitchen door to the mailbox. (And I don't have cold feet at night anymore...)
I don't want to try minimalist or reduced shoes at first... Partially because I feel irritated by all those Big Brands who have been yelling for years that your feet need support and cushioning, now try to get there share of the barefoot-market again by proclaiming exactly the opposite.
But I like to run in the woods, and I guess I'll need a little bit more protection that just my bare soles can give me. But first I'll have to make the transition...
During my last runs, I paid attention to my strike, and mentioned that it seemed impossible not to 'heel-strike'. But the running-shoes I use most are Saucony Trigon Ride, and only last friday I found out that 'A dollop of foam cushioning under the heel makes the Ride more aggressively sloped from heel to toe than the average shoe and a great match for heavy heel-strikers'. (Since English is not my native language, I don't know if 'heavy' means the impact of the heel-strike, or the weight of the runner... )
So yesterday I took a pair that I bought a year ago, when I forgot to take my own shoes on a trip. I have only ran a few times with those New Balance, since they felt a bit to hight at my lateral ankle. But although it's of course not a reduced shoe, it has already less drop than those Sauconies... And guess! When running with those shoes, landing on my midfoot was now possible...
But as said... Although I read that Bob runs barefoot when temperature is in the low 40's, I wait till it's a little bit warmer.
Running in BelgiumAnn
2012-goals: stay injury-free, build a stable aerobic base, transition to running barefoot run barefoot as long as temperatures allow it
Run more km than I did in 2010 (45) 2009 (95) 2007 (148) 2006 (222) 2008 (234) 2011 (best year yet: 318 km)
"...minimalist footwear for both running and casual use: Altra, Go Lite, Terra Plana/Vivo Barefoot, Vibram FiveFingers, to name some. "
MTA: More minimal type footwear brands are Feelmax, Keen, Kigo, Soft Star, and Zem
And Bobev, check out the Zem foot socks for runners!
Ann - you might give socks a try until it warms up. I've been doing that when it gets into the 30's & 40's and to try to get form so I can handle gravel. I'm still holing them in right heel after about 8 mi so have to continue to work on form. Have to overcome years of favoring right leg over left due to left calf injury and major surgeries.
Fine in it's own post, but no need to duplicate post please.
making the transition to minimal using BF first, not last
making the transition to minimal using BF first, not last
I've read this before and I agree. I started out on semi-hard surfaces such as football fields and golf courses, then went up to clean sidewalks. After the adjustment phase I got a pair of minimalist shoes so I could run wherever.
Tip- the beach isn't a great place to learn technique...
In the last few weeks I've started to add a couple of hundred yards barefoot to each of my runs. I didn't look for the smoother surfaces, ran on rough asphalt, chip-seal as well as on smooth concrete. And I must say that my soles seem to adapt very rapidly to even the roughest surface.
I run only 1 km barefoot at this moment, since I'm very anxious not to step in the TMTS-pitfall. However, yesterday it wasn't easy to refrain myself from running farther...
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