This is the second week of my journey transitioning to barefoot running. In this post, I share my training schedule for week two and the number one resource that I have been using to strengthen my feet.
Note: this article contains affiliate links, but only to products and services that I have tried myself and believe are worth sharing.
In terms of transitioning to barefoot running, not much happened this week. That is, not on the surface, at least. Between leading an overnight school trip and needing to recover from my slightly over-exuberant week 1, I only managed two barefoot runs in seven days.
However, by the end of the week, I felt as though I had a better handle on my base-level barefoot running ability i.e. what is my body capable of doing right now, without incurring injury? Once I know this I can start building up gradually from there.
“Walk before you run”
I understand the importance of barefoot walking as a precursor to transitioning to barefoot running. It is gentler on the joints and tissues compared with running. However, it still builds a lot of the required strength and mobility in your feet and lower legs that is needed for a smooth barefoot running transition.
I already walk quite a bit in Vibram Five Fingers, but of course this doesn’t help toughen up the foot skin in the way that barefooting does. For this reason, I think that run/walking is going to be a good way to structure my barefoot running workouts. By combining running and walking in my barefoot workouts I will get more barefoot time, but less of the stress on the body that comes from barefoot running as a beginner.
Of course, barefoot walking more in everyday life would be another way to manage this. But this is a tough one. The transition to total barefoot walking would require me to cut back on a lot of things. A lot of my favourite natural movement spots would be inaccessible for a while simply because my soft, weak, naked feet aren’t ready to take me there just yet. It might make my barefoot progress slower in the long run, but for now, I’m going to stick to a combination of minimal shoes and bare-footing for much of my everyday activities.
Other ways to condition your feet for barefoot running
Because our feet have been immobilized for so long by modern footwear and habits, simply throwing off your shoes and running barefoot right away is a big ask. This is where corrective exercise comes in. By gently introducing the movements that your feet have been lacking after a lifetime in shoes, you can increase the strength and mobility of your feet slowly and help avoid injury.
I have been using corrective exercises in my own movement practice for several years now, and it has been a HUGE part of helping me recover from the injuries I picked up during my years as an “athlete”. I might have been fitter back then in a lot of ways, but I’m certainly healthier now and I move much, much better.
The book is pitched at barefoot walking, but the theory and the exercises are still very relevant for transitioning to barefoot running. Needless to say, I have been doing these exercises a lot since I started my own transition to minimal shoe walking several years ago. And I still find them really helpful now I have starting barefoot running.
My TRAINING “schedule” for week TWO of my barefoot RUNNING transition:
DAY 1 – Rest. ( I did two consecutive days of running at the end of week one and needed a break)
DAY 2 – Rest
DAY 3 – Run consisting of: walk 2 minutes, run 2 minutes for a total of 20 minutes. After this, my left calf and achilles were sore for a few days. I got the feeling that 10 minutes total of running was too much for the moment.
DAY 4 – Rest
DAY 5 – No running but a long hike for work
DAY 6 – No running but a long hike for work
DAY 7 – Run consisting of 8 minutes of walking, 2 minutes of running, repeated three times. This was done on roads and pavements around my house, all of which are slightly uphill or downhill.
I think I’ve found my baseline!
The day 7 workout felt like the sweet spot. It lasts for 30 minutes, which is long enough to feel like I’ve actually done something. But it’s only 6 minutes total of running, which (as pathetic as it might seem) is about all my plantar fascia wants to put up with right now.
My next step is to figure out how frequently my body is able to handle this ‘run’. For now, I will try resting for two days before attempting it again and see how that goes. If I feel good, I may try doing it on alternate days.
Bring on week 3!
Are you transitioning to barefoot running, or have you already made it through to the other side unscathed? If so, I would love to hear from you! And be sure to check out my free natural movement fitness starter guide. it’s full of tips and ideas for starting your own natural movement practice.
Other posts in the Barefoot Running Transition Series: