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Question about minimalist running

posted over 7 years ago | Report

I have begun researching minimalist shoes such as VFF/Nike Free/Brooks. I know that you must slowly work into this style of running, first and foremost. My question, however, was how often can you run in minimalist shoes per week? Once you are adjusted to this running style, can you stick to only running in VFF (for instance) or do you need to alternate with traditional shoes to avoid any injury?

I have heard conflicting opinions on this, so I thought I would see what more experienced runners thought.

  • There is definitely an adaptation process when moving to minimalist shoes. I have experienced this in two stages: the first when moving from typical running shoes to more minimal shoes such as the Nike Frees, racing flats, Brooks Mach 11, etc.; and the second when moving from these to VFF KSOs and Bikilas, which you cannot classify as shoes in the same was as any of the above.

    I like the Nike Frees, and I do use them. However, they are nothing like VFFs, and not as minimal as some racing flats like the New Balance RCWR 205's. The Brooks Mach 11 are the shoes that I have found the most minimal so far as the heel does not interfere with a mid-foot strike at all.

    During this transition, what is common, and what I have experienced, is significant soreness in the calf area as the legs acclimatize to the new strike (you may also find early fatiguing of quad muscles, but this is less pronounced). When moving from standard shoes to minimal shoes, it took about 6 weeks after which soreness stopped. At that point, I could run in minimal _shoes_ as much as I liked.

    I am now experiencing an amplified version of this as I progress from the shoes to VFFs. Amplified, because the level of soreness is greater, the duration longer, and the impact on subsequent runs more significant. I have twice made the mistake of getting overly exuberant with the VFFs (the first time out and more recently having come to the mistaken conclusion that I was fully adapted), and paid for that in following days - even weeks.

    So, to answer your question, once adapted you will be able to run minimal as much as you like. Care during the adaptation period is needed to prevent trouble however. I don't yet know how long the adaptation period is for VFFs; I guess I am approaching 6 weeks of use, and do feel I'm on my way.

    posted over 7 years ago | edited over 7 years ago

  • thanks for all of your advice! that definitely helps me to better establish a training plan for the next couple months. it looks like i need to go out and find some new running shoes soon!

    posted over 7 years ago

  • during the 1st month of adaptation, still, most of your running will be with regular shoes. But after a few months you should be able to fully transition to your VFFs.

    posted over 7 years ago

  • in reply to what Bryan said:thanks for all of your advice! that definitely helps me to better establish a training plan for the next couple months. it looks like i need to go out and find some new running shoes soon!

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    posted over 3 years ago

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