Complete Beginner’s Guide to Barefoot Running

Have you ever thought that one day you would try to do something crazy like running barefoot in the street? Learn about this sport with our article.

Beginners Guide to Barefoot Running


I am sure that many people will frown with doubt if they are asked to take barefoot running. All they will think about are injuries that barefoot runners might suffer from and this type of running is not for ordinary people like them.

Honestly, if they understand the purpose of running barefoot and know how to do it correctly, those people might fall in love with it and wish to practice every single day. Today article will provide you with a complete beginner’s guide to barefoot running.

Why Barefoot Running?

We have been told that good shoes could help runners from receiving accidental injuries, so you should purchase a right pair of shoes. Thus, a bad wound when running means that you picked the wrong ones. But, is that true?

Weakening your feet

Recent research has indicated that your feet could be significantly strengthened with barefoot running, which is considered as a natural running. Using a motion-controlled and cushioned pair of shoes is like being cast in the mold for months. When you take it off, your feet, joints, and knees will be weakened and pounded hard.

In fact, the feet’s strength connects with the Earth, so they are kept separate from the ground, which might cause physical problems to you. Also, running barefoot will not make you faster. Honestly, it is all about freedom, keeping your spirits up, lightness, and fun.

What do you need to prepare?

Vibrams, especially FiveFingers model, is the most appropriate shoes that enhances barefoot running in the market now although they are quite expensive. These running shoes provide your feet strength and give you a chance to feel the surface as well. Likewise, Vibrams offer you the adequate protection that could reduce the risk of having injuries.

The question is that do you have to wear FiveFingers shoes? Of course, no. If you can make sure that your chosen surface is safe from rocks, metal, and glass, you could start running totally barefoot without being in pain.

However, to newbies, a pair of FiveFingers Vibrams will assist you in forming barefoot running and building up your strength that is a smooth transition. And here are some briefing notes that you should read through to deal with this kind of shoes.

How to put them on

To be honest, you may be confused at the first time, so it will take you a few times to get used to. It is just like pull on your gloves. But do not worry. The following steps will make it easier for you.

  • Step 1: Move your feet smoothly into the shoes. Do not rush. Just do it gradually.
  • Step 2: Take a few seconds to cover your toes with ‘fingers’ by slotting the spaces between your toes and the ‘fingers.'
  • Step 3: Pull the part from your heel to allow your feet to slide into the shoes gradually
  • Step 4: Wriggle your toes until you feel right and comfortable

This process seems to be complicated, but when you are familiar with it, you just need about 20 seconds to finish.

Purchase the perfect model

Based on my research, there is a great number of FiveFingers Vibrams available in the market. My advice to new barefoot runners is to pick up the shoes those are good for running, training, and work well on different surfaces, for instance, sand or grass.

Have a terrible smell?

I have seen that many runners said they were annoyed about the bad smell of their FiveFingers shoes after several weeks. I have never faced this problem yet. However, to prevent your running shoes from giving off, you could throw them into a washing machine, and then let them naturally dry. You should do this twice per month.


The cost that you might have to pay for a pair of FiveFingers shoes ranges up to $125. However, you should shop around. Some people still find products whose price is under $100.

If you want to start barefoot running, using barefoot shoes instead of normal ones is highly recommended. As I mentioned above, they will build up your strength and help you get used to running barefoot gradually without pains.

Do different workouts

The useful approach to getting familiar with Vibrams is trying different workouts with them, such as bodyweight or weight workouts. To illustrate, when you squat, this type of shoes will not move your forward as others do.

How to kick off your barefoot running

Many experienced runners still make a terrible mistake when they change from running shoes to barefoot running. What I wanna mention here is that those people do it quickly with high intensity. Consequently, injuries, pains, and discouragement are all you would receive because your calves, feet, and ankles are still weak from walking or running with shoes.

Here is what I think you should carefully follow to enjoy running barefoot.

#1. Running on a hard surface in a short time

The first thing you need to do when you begin to run barefoot is trying to run with FiveFingers shoes, or totally barefoot (if you are sure that the chosen surface is safe) in a short time, in this case, just a few minutes. A hard surface is beneficial for the first several times since you are running naturally with a good form.

With your typical shoes, you can pound your heels as well as overextend your legs continuously without worrying about getting hurt. However, with barefoot running, you will have injuries if you overdo it on a hard surface for a long time. So stay calm and run gently. Do not hurt yourself!

#2. Gradually lengthen your running time

The perfect intensity of barefoot running for beginners is to do it within one or two minutes for several times per week. Please do not try too hard and do not try to pound your heels as much as you can. Start slowly to get your muscles stronger and choose a variety of surfaces to run on, for example, dirt, concrete, or asphalt.

#3. Shorter runs

Even if you are a professional runner or you just break into a barefoot run, 15 to 30 minutes is the ideal running time that you could run completely barefoot. I know that many runners, including me, always want to challenge ourselves by taking harder and longer runs, but at this time, all of us had better run with a pair of barefoot shoes to avoid physical injuries.

#4. Throw your running shoes away

As I mentioned above, typical running shoes in the market, cause some damages to your feet, ankles, and legs, especially when you put them on and run. For those who have used barefoot shoes for a long time, you might not need them now as your muscles got stronger enough for you to run completely barefoot.

#5. Try to run barefoot on soft surfaces for the first time

For newbie runners, if you want to try to run barefoot at the beginning, so choose soft surfaces to do it. Because you are not skilled runners, your feet are sensitive and easy to suffer from accidental injuries. Some suggested places are beaches, grass, and other concrete surfaces which are safe from rough materials.

Honestly, do push yourself too hard! Again, if you want to be a risk taker, put your barefoot shoes on before running on any tough pathways.

Running techniques

To make your running journey more enjoyable here are some useful techniques that I think you should know.

  • Use your midfoot or your forefeet to land on instead of your heels. If you feel that you are taking too much on the heels, so shorten your strides. However, do not always land on the forefeet since it might cause soreness.
  • Shorten and shorten your strides. Remember that you are running instead of walking. Hence, do not extend your strides as long as possible.
  • Try to keep balanced. A good posture is to let your feet under your shoulders and hips.
  • Be light. Instead of feeling like you are pounding on your heels, try to keep your body light on the feet.
  • Again, do it gently and slowly. Making noise is a sign of pounding hard which could lead to some physical injuries if you plan to run barefoot for a long time.

Suggested Training Plan of Barefoot Running

Follows is the running program which will allow all of us to have a smooth transition into barefoot runners. Better still, this plan can work well as your starting program if you are a newbie in this field or for people returning after a layoff duration.

Exercise 1: Walking barefoot

At first, you should spend at least one week to let your body get acquainted with the new frequency of exercises. During this time, try not to wear shoes as well as pay attention to the feet. Also, avoid toughening your feet’s soles. By this way, you will be aware of the moving way of your feet when freed entirely from shoes. For instance, five-minute increments when walking your dog may be your good start.

Exercise 2: Performing short runs

When starting your barefoot running, your focus should be to make the body accustomed well to your new running gait and stride. Nurture the feet through such transition and arrange to have at least 1 day to rest between each session. Stretch your feet frequently, soak, and massage them as needed.

In fact, running barefoot is much more efficient with a slower pace than the regular runs. If speeding up is quite difficult to you, listen carefully to what the feet say as they provide the constant feedback toward the remaining part of a body. During this process, keep in mind to go slower.

Exercise 3: Combine running with and without shoes and socks

You also can plan to do running about a quarter of your running distance every day without shoes. And you should do it at the start of your run. More frequent and smaller steps are considered wonderful signs of the natural form of running.

After running your desired distance in the bare feet, let’s put on the shoes and socks. Then, continue to execute the rest of the regular distance. To prevent from increasing the pace, think to lower the energy spent or intensity, not only speed.

Exercise 4: Barefoot running faster gradually

You may repeat the short runs two or three times per week then, increase your distance slowly. As far as you may know, a periodization plan may help you much in transitioning carefully and proficiently to reach the regular goals of running.

Furthermore, you should focus much on landing on the middle and the balls of the feet (mid-foot and forefoot landing, respectively). However, do not land directly on your heels, also known as heel striking. You should keep the feet landing right beneath the gravity center, below your hips. Then, refrain directly from moving from the ground with steps to allow your feet to land simply and continue. And stay relaxed as well.


I hope that you had a good time with this complete beginner’s guide to barefoot running. Remember that it is not about the speed, or how hard you pound on your feet. Instead, barefoot running is a newly enjoyable experience of freedom and connecting to nature.

If you have any questions or other interesting tips, leave a comment to let me know. Last but not least, do not forget to like and share this article to those who are interested in running barefoot.

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