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Barefoot Tracks

Thin-soled, minimalist running shoes are a solid choice for many runners who say the footwear option better connects them with their body, the running surface, and a sense of freedom. But don’t just decide to run in these shoes (or without shoes at all) without the proper preparation.

Some running experts strongly suggest  that barefoot novices incorporate the new shoes into their existing running routine - not go full-bore into it. For starters, your feet, ankles and calves will have to work harder to supp  ort your body when you go barefoot, so you’ll have to strengthen those muscle areas.

•  Doing weight-bearing strength training barefoot
•  Wearing the shoes on an elliptical machine and while casually walking
•  Strengthening and adding flexibility to your calf and foot muscles

Stride changes. You’ll also run with a different stride in minimalist shoes. Instead of striking the surface with your heel first, you will need to learn to land on your forefoot and midfoot – the ball and arch of your foot – and let your heel down gradually into a springy landing. You will need to shorten your stride too, with each step feeling as if it is landing under your hip.

To get the feel for landing on your foot the right way, try walking backwards while leaning slightly forward. That will give you a good sense of how your foot should feel with every step.

Be patient, take your time to make the transition and seek help from a minimalist running coach if you can. Learn the proper barefoot running form and soon you may be heading out for a marathon in your new minimalist shoes.

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