The Runner’s World (r) Complete Guide To Minimalism And Barefoot Running


In my last group training session a woman asked about my VivoBarefoot shoes. It’s the first time in the two years I’ve worn them that a stranger has shown interest in my shoes. Seems you can read about minimalist shoes in the paper every week, but very few actually use them for running. Out of the hundred something runners I see every week, about zero to one of them are wearing minimalist shoes, except for the odd Lunaracer racing flat. And even those are far between.

Anyway, the woman told me she had started running in VivoBarefoots, and had to stop after two weeks because of all kinds of pain in her lower legs. She seemed to be doing fine in her cushioned running shoes, but I wish she had read this book before venturing into barefoot shoes. I am afraid her story is a common reason why the five fingers end up in the back of the closet. (The other main reason being how they look.)

The book is short and very well written. I read it in a single day. It explains the main ideas and principles of running with less cushioning, and the author, Scott Douglas, is very careful to include all the ‘caveats’, and different viewpoints on barefoot running, which is nice. The book also includes some simple exercises, like how to do butt-kicks (on yourself), and how to go about shopping for shoes.

All in all, I’d say many people would be better off reading this book quoting reputable coaches, than getting all their information from web forums. It’s essential in the sense that it’s short, and IMO important for anybody interested in barefoot and minimalist running.



Runkeeper congratulates me with a new record! 1 km in 4 seconds! The real record however, was “farthest distance ran before the GPS finds its location.” Unfortunately.

The good news is I can now go for a (short) run every day without injuring myself. It’s taken me over a year to get here. Until now I’ve always taken a full day’s restitution between runs, or paid the price in sore legs. This makes things easier. And I feel more and more secure in the minimal shoes. I am a little sorry that I didn’t run barefoot more this summer when I had the chance.

Also I’ve started playing with intervals again. My system is to jog along at a comfortable pace. Whenever I feel like it, i run fast for about 30 seconds. And then back to the slow tempo. My slow tempo is at about 5:30/km and the fast is at about 3:00/km. This is a lot faster than I can run a km, but still feels comfortable, and more important: Fun.

I am going to alternate with some longer intervals, ideally a km at about 4:00 min/km. But I’m not there yet. Anyway my ideal half marathon race pace is at about 5:00 at this point.


4 °C and too cold to run barefoot this morning. But nevertheless a great morning for running. And I’m back to running every day.

I generally have a problem with addiction. I’ll start something new, get all fired up and manic about it, but when I can’t keep up with my initial ambition I quit. It’s a common personality type I guess. But running seems to be a bit more steady than than, even though my mileage is very uneven. Soon I can call it a habit.

Barefoot again and it feels good.

After the weekend’s bad race I’ve been really down when thinking about running. Luckily spring has finally come to Copenhagen, and I ran in shorts and t-shirt today, like I have been dreaming about all winter. After a short, fast run I took off my shoes and ran another mile. That will be my third “barefoot run”. (I’ve ran barefoot before I knew it was a thing, of course.) I ran on a patch of new pavement. It felt absolutely great. I think I might start to do it more often, maybe as a warm-up. 

And I’m still onthe fence about buying a couple of racing flats. If minimal feels good, why buy shoes with more sole? On the other hand, I might want some protection for longer runs. Well, for now it’s minimal shoes.

Barefoot running fun.

A good sign that barefoot running is becoming mainstream is the inevitable Youtube parodies. And since barefoot runners are “simple”, to quote the first video, they are happy to laugh along with ordinary runners, the ones in high heels I mean.

I am not a barefoot runner myself, but I do subscribe to the general concept. Our legs have a great suspension system so why not use it?

Here are my favorites so far.

“The Barefoot Runner”

This one popped up two months ago, right about the time everybody, including me, grew a mustache. On a serious note, I have read, from a certified podiatrist, that 80% of runners are overpronators, and need supportive shoes. 80%! I know we are a degenerated population, but that just can’t be right.

“Sh*t Barefoot Runners Say”

Another installment in the Sh*t people say-series. And very realistic.

Of Mania and Achilles Tendinitis.

My right Achilles tendon is fine today, after running 10km yesterday. I mean fine as in no pain, no stiffness in the morning. Based on experience, I wouldn’t go for a run today though… I’ve looked at my training blog (finally some use for it) to try to determine if there’s a pattern before any crisis or pain in my feet and legs, but there’s really no system to it. I had some pain and swelling under the right foot after stepping on a sharp stone a few weeks back, which lasted ten days or so. Seems easy enough to self-diagnose.  Six months ago I  started running much too suddely, and developed a case of Achilles tendinosis, also self diagnosed, I should add. But this round of Achilles pain is a bit of a mystery.

When I started running last spring, I hadn’t run regularly in fifteen years. I had previously had some knee issues, probably aggravated by being slightly overweight at the time, and possibly by those stability Asics I’ve later grown to hate. Can’t remember the model number, unfortunately, or I would warn against them. They must have had at least a 4cm heel, because I kept sliding into the front of the shoe. Enough said, I had some bad experience with running, so I googled running technique and found some entertaining Youtube videos by some dr Silberman, New Jersey, analysing the gait of a runner heel striking vs. forefoot striking. I think I watched it a few times before watching many more videos advocating the same footstrike, so I decided to try it. And the effect was immediate. Already on my fifth run I ran 11 km wich is longer than I had ever run before. So it definitely worked for me.

Then I did something stupid: I got completely manic about running. After only two weeks of running I ran every day, between 4 and 10 km. A few weeks in I would occasionally run twice in a day. I remember reasoning like this: “Kids run all the time, so why should’nt I?” Inevitably something went wrong, and that something was my left Achilles tendon. After that I started taking two days rest between each run, which was painful, mentally, because I would like to run every day. Then I took about two weeks without running, and when I started carefully, the pain was insignificant unless I ran the day after a long run. I managed to finish a half-marathon, partially heel striking, with no discomfort. My left tendon is fine now, but I still try to be careful.

And then it happened again: A week back my right achilles tendon acted up, and it’s now the limiting factor of my running. It seems I still have a hard time in keeping my distances short enough. Simply put I must try not to run more than 4km at the time, which has proved to be my “safe” distance. Because of those first weeks of invincibility it’s hard to accept that I am still a beginner, and that I probably need to ease into it more than most. I weight 82 kilos, which is heavy for a runner, and I’m simply not used to this amount of exercise. It’s important for me to accept that I am still a far way from being a marathoner. Part of the problem is, I seem to enjoy long distance running the most.

I have started thinking about reverting to heel striking in padded shoes, but I don’t want the pain in my knees to return, and, more importantly, it feels weird now that I’m used to forefoot striking. The fact that my left foot is now seemingly healed and strong enough to carry me for long runs, I am optimistic that my right foot will follow, and that if I just keep at it, slowly my legs will get the necessary strength and robustness. It is a trial for my patience though.

About healing of Achilles tendon injury, it can be good to know that while a broken bone usually heals back stronger than before, a tendon is often weakened my old injuries, and can become a lifelong annoyance. With regular exercise it gets stronger, but with overuse it gets weaker. If you are contemplating barefoot/forefoot/minimal/natural running, please don’t go from 0 to 10km immediately like I did, even if it feels good at the time.

I still have the urge to run every day, and I hope that someday I will be able to.

Here’s my game plan:

  • Better warm up.
  • Shorter runs, but maybe more frequent.
  • Never continue after feeling any discomfort.
  • Lose weight.

Sounds easy enough. But there are some Vivobarefoot trail shoes on their way to my door via mail…

First barefoot run.

This post should be called “Run barefoot first!”  Because that’s where I should have started six months ago. I can’t recommend it enough. Again, I’m running slowly, focusing on running lightly and smoothly. After my run today I tried a bit of barefoot running on the street. I was shocked at how different it was to “minimal” footwear. I go barefoot indoors a lot, and in the summer i play badminton and walk around barefoot, but it’s a very different thing to run barefoot for a while. I was much more careful than in shoes. I’ll definitely do that again Saturday! Shame winter is around the bend.

This days run was followed by a nice two hour sauna and freediving session. Life is good.