I am new - both to the Team and to the world of minimalist running. I know it may seem crazy to most here but I only just read Born to Run - it was a Christmas gift and it took one day. (Eric, while I run I now mutter "what did Eric say to Chris?") Like many runners/readers I was an instant convert to the philosophy of minimalist running and natural running form; it just makes sense. So, naturally, I have begun researching "the transition" and while I am excited about the challenge of recreating my running form I am distraught at the idea that it will take so long to get to the point where I can run the distances I am used to running. Last year I ran 6 half marathons and several 8 & 10ks as well as my first full. This year I was turning my sights on getting FAST. But fixing my form, especially now since I am in a running slump (I am averaging 15 - 20 miles a week), seems the top priority. And I can wait on speed. But frequency? And distance? I'm ready to amp it up and get out of this slump. Does it really take YEARS to get to go the distance in minimalist shoes? Regardless of your dedication to strengthening your feet?
I appreciate your honesty and guidance.
Remember that Chris McDougall took up minimalist running only months before the Copper Canyon 50 miler. I went from being a hurting knee non runner to doing some low key races within a few months. Watch the foot strike/ knee drive video a few times Everyone will tell you this but make your first run really short (like 15 minutes or so). I thought my calves were going to explode after several hundred yards on my first run. Do a short run and then go read the book again (if you haven't already.) Eric's beginner training plan had an occasional 15 minute barefoot run on grass. Videotape yourself and compare it to Eric's video, or have someone else compare it to make sure your form is good. I think your calves will tell you if you're starting out too fast. You sound dedicated--you'll be racing by the summer!
Thank you for your encouraging words, Thomas. I remembered Eric saying to Chris McDougall that he did not have time to transition to barefoot before the Copper Canyon race but I had forgotten that he DID go minimal until your post. I finally took the plunge myself yesterday. I did the foot exercises first and then did a relatively speedy mile (b/c I heard starting with a speed workout was suggested), walked, then ran another speedy half mile and stopped b/c I realized it was necessary. I have to say it was hard to tell at first b/c I was having so much fun, but as soon as I stopped moving I knew stopping was absolutely the right choice (exploding calves is right!). I think I am going to lay off today b/c I don't want to risk it. Thanks, again for pumping me up.
Well said Danielle! I'm in the same boat--I read Born to Run a couple months ago, and started working on form right after the Disney Half Marathon in January. Besides calf pain, and a new blister on the ball of my left foot, my runs have been very enjoyable and comfortable. I'm still running in my old shoes as I just dropped $100 on a new pair of Brooks a couple months ago, so I want to get mileage out of them before making the move to minimal.
It was hard for me as well to dial back the miles as well. I was used to running 4-5 days a week, but cut it back to 2-3 (namely due to the calf pain). I decided to get a little crazy this past Sunday and ran 7.5 miles on a picture perfect, beautiful clear day. Paying for it now with sore calves and that blister, but otherwise okay, and feel like I'm making progress.
I would like to know more from Eric and experienced runners about time frame. I cut back on all races until later this year, to work on form--is that too long? I've read it took some folks a full year to adapt proper form. Does that sound right?
Hey guys this is great stuff. Use minimal running as a tool to increase foot and leg strength and to help with form. So do not think this is an ALL or nothing approach. use your easy, recovery runs for minimal running and/or use your longer easier runs to build time in Minimal shoes and use your old/trad shoes for quality runs when you need to focus on speed or distance.
Thank you for your response, Eric. I must say I'm still a little confused and hope you can provide clarity. My primary reason for transitioning to minimalist running is to change my running form; I'm a heel striker. Therefore, I don't understand the reasoning to go back to using shoes that encourage poor form. I understand a gradual transition...especially after running in my new shoes/form. I can FEEL what you are cautioning against especially in my achilles. But not going back and forth. Or am I just to change shoes and not form?
Thanks, again - and I look forward to getting my hands on your book!
There are some great "in-between" options to consider if you don't want to go back to a 12mm drop heel wedge shoe while you are transitioning. There are some great shoes on the market that have low drop (0-4mm) and little/no arch support, thus supporting proper mid-foot strike, but still have a moderate amount of cushioning. Eric's B2R shoe provides decent protection, as does the Brooks Pure Flow (the road model in between the minimal pure connect and the not-so-minimal pure cadence). The Brooks Pure Grit trail shoe is a good shoe for transition (4mm), as well as a good shoe if your feet just need a bit more protection from the ground. My wife loves the Altra Lone Peak for zero drop but meaningful cushion. The Innov-8 trailroc line offers some good options. Bottom line, even among people who run with a great midfoot strike running form, barefoot is not for everyone.