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Running With Barefoot Running Shoes

OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member
Anyone ever try this?

I am not talking about minimalist running shoes either, I'm talking about barefoot running shoes.

The difference is that minimalist shoes have a mid sole, and barefoot running shoes have only an in sole and an out sole.

An example would be Merrell Vapor Glove (barefoot), and Merrel Trail Glove (minimalist). The Trail Glove has a 4mm mid sole between the in sole and the out sole, where the Vapor Glove has no mid sole.

I have been toying with this for a while now and think there is definitely something to it. Lately I have been doing some of my runs in my Vapor Gloves, and so far can run about 3 miles in them (on paved trails). The ground feel is so much that it forces me to run more softly and properly, because it hurts if I don't. My feet are also getting stronger as well, and I feel a lot less stress on my joints compared to regular running shoes (which I still use a lot).

This requires a long time to adjust to, and could take at least a year or longer to get fully adjusted to it. I still have a long way to go, but I feel progress more and more as time goes on and I do it more.

I think that is why most runners who have been running a long time do not want to try it, because they don't want to have to basically start over again from scratch, and I can't blame them for that. And the ones who have tried it and gotten an injury, is probably because they did not do it gradually enough. JMO though.

Many people say it was a fad that came and went, but it looks to me that there are a lot of people who still do it, and swear they will never go back to regular running shoes again.

A member of our India team does 20 mile runs totally barefoot on paved roads. He tells me he does not like regular running shoes, but would use barefoot running shoes.

Anyway, I am just wondering if any of you have tried this, or are currently doing it.

Lets discuss... :)

Replies

  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Posts: 1,169Member Member Posts: 1,169Member Member
    I LOVE my old Merrell Bare Access Arc 3's. I recently got a pair of Topo ST-2, which feel similar underfoot, but I have more issues with lacing to an appropriate tension - and then a pair of Xero Prio, which lace nicely, but don't have that tiny bit of arch support. I'm perfectly fine with the that minimal structure. I can't tell if the structure will win me over to the ST-2's, or if I'll prefer the Prio because the lacing works better for me. Mostly, I'm just sad that I can't find a stock of Merrell's to buy in my size. Why do they have to cancel my favorite things?
  • monkeefan1974monkeefan1974 Posts: 882Member Member Posts: 882Member Member
    Currently running barefoot on trail and pavement. When conditions are not ideal for barefoot I wear Xero 4mm sandals (diy kit) and this pink pair have almost 3,000 miles on them and still going. You are correct in your assumption that it takes a looooong time to transition. A year or more. Been at it over 5 years. I started running this way to get rid of shin splints and it has worked. Not really sure if there is any benefit to barefoot running but I keep running this way because to me it feels really fun :)
    qxcwjrwxjlgt.jpeg
  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Posts: 1,169Member Member Posts: 1,169Member Member
    @monkeefan1974 Can you tell me more about the foam they provide with that kit? I'm too cheap to send them all my money, but I'd experiment with craft foam (even if the durability isn't there) to see if I want to go further down that path. If the material is far superior to what I've got access to, it might be worthwhile, after I've got the design details down... But do you think I'll get any sort of feel for the experience with art supplies from the local WalMart?
  • monkeefan1974monkeefan1974 Posts: 882Member Member Posts: 882Member Member
    @monkeefan1974 Can you tell me more about the foam they provide with that kit? I'm too cheap to send them all my money, but I'd experiment with craft foam (even if the durability isn't there) to see if I want to go further down that path. If the material is far superior to what I've got access to, it might be worthwhile, after I've got the design details down... But do you think I'll get any sort of feel for the experience with art supplies from the local WalMart?

    Oh no, i lt’s NOT foam at all! And NOT like a flip flop either. It’s a tough but flexible material I believe originally made by vibram. More like the material on a thin rubber tire, that’s how they last so long. They are “guaranteed” to last for 5,000 miles by Xero. It comes in 4mm or 6mm thickness. They only cost about $25 plus shipping so it’s not a huge investment. If I had to make something similar I’d use maybe a thick slab of leather to get a feel for it. Or maybe like the material on those mud flaps they use on trucks 🤷‍♀️
    edited April 13
  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Posts: 1,169Member Member Posts: 1,169Member Member
    I think we've got leather scraps for experimenting on. I wouldn't know where to source old truck mudflaps. Thanks for the information, though. That's very helpful.
  • monkeefan1974monkeefan1974 Posts: 882Member Member Posts: 882Member Member
    I think we've got leather scraps for experimenting on. I wouldn't know where to source old truck mudflaps. Thanks for the information, though. That's very helpful.

    If you go to the Xero web site they have videos on how to tie the diy sandals as well as different tying styles that customers have come up with. I used these videos to modify one of the versions and customize my own tying style :) I also thought maybe a thick bath mat might work to experiment with too!
  • autumnblade75autumnblade75 Posts: 1,169Member Member Posts: 1,169Member Member
    I think we've got leather scraps for experimenting on. I wouldn't know where to source old truck mudflaps. Thanks for the information, though. That's very helpful.

    If you go to the Xero web site they have videos on how to tie the diy sandals as well as different tying styles that customers have come up with. I used these videos to modify one of the versions and customize my own tying style :) I also thought maybe a thick bath mat might work to experiment with too!

    I've watched a few of those videos. Part of me just wants to sew a toecap on the end and make closed-toe sandals. I think my biggest concern is the toe flap folding under and tripping me up. I don't do thongs between my toes, though - flip-flops are right out. Really, all I want is reasonable protection from broken glass and sharp rocks. I don't know why I thought the kit was expensive. $25 and shipping sounds pretty reasonable, even for experimenting.
  • monkeefan1974monkeefan1974 Posts: 882Member Member Posts: 882Member Member
    I think we've got leather scraps for experimenting on. I wouldn't know where to source old truck mudflaps. Thanks for the information, though. That's very helpful.

    If you go to the Xero web site they have videos on how to tie the diy sandals as well as different tying styles that customers have come up with. I used these videos to modify one of the versions and customize my own tying style :) I also thought maybe a thick bath mat might work to experiment with too!

    I've watched a few of those videos. Part of me just wants to sew a toecap on the end and make closed-toe sandals. I think my biggest concern is the toe flap folding under and tripping me up. I don't do thongs between my toes, though - flip-flops are right out. Really, all I want is reasonable protection from broken glass and sharp rocks. I don't know why I thought the kit was expensive. $25 and shipping sounds pretty reasonable, even for experimenting.

    Yea I tie mine across the toes because I don’t care for between either, it works fantastically. The front only occasionally flaps under, especially when you get tired and don’t lift your foot properly but it doesn’t bother me at all, it’s so flexible I just step on it and keep going without breaking stride and pick my feet up properly next time. I’ve never had them trip me up and I do street, hills and all kinds of terrain. Don’t really recommend them for sand though, better to just go barefoot in sand B)
  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member
    Currently running barefoot on trail and pavement. When conditions are not ideal for barefoot I wear Xero 4mm sandals (diy kit) and this pink pair have almost 3,000 miles on them and still going. You are correct in your assumption that it takes a looooong time to transition. A year or more. Been at it over 5 years. I started running this way to get rid of shin splints and it has worked. Not really sure if there is any benefit to barefoot running but I keep running this way because to me it feels really fun :)
    qxcwjrwxjlgt.jpeg

    You are inspiring.

    I may try a little barefoot running (well walking first).

    Thanks for posting.
  • DX2JX2DX2JX2 Posts: 1,877Member Member Posts: 1,877Member Member
    Basically, they're not the be all end all. Transition slowly and if they work for you great. If you feel any discomfort or pain along the way, consider pulling back. Also, if you aren't haven't problems with traditional shoes, then there is no real reason to change (but you still can if you want to, of course).

    It's all individual as your body will adjust to keep total loads the same. The only question is whether your body prefers to lessen forces by absorbing impacts in the calf & upper leg or whether your body prefers to let the shoe cushioning do the work for it.

    https://www.outsideonline.com/2390686/barefoot-running-biomechanics-study
  • GiddyupTimGiddyupTim Posts: 2,745Member Member Posts: 2,745Member Member
    I think barefoot running makes perfect sense.
    Clearly one strikes the ground differently when running without shoes -- more forefoot, with all the greater shock absorption that provides. Clearly we evolved without footwear, until relatively recently -- so recently it probably does not involve evolution.

    (Conversely, I don't buy this whole corollary idea that because we ran barefoot, and can sweat, our ancient selves must have chased down our prey, which couldn't sweat but rather had to pant -- the whole "Born to Run" idea.
    Makes no sense.
    -- Sorry for this tangent, but I cannot help myself. --
    I have, on occasion, tried to run with a dog or another four legged animal. Snort. It's not even funny. I cannot keep pace. I am left extremely far behind.
    They not only are making contact on the ground with four legs where I am only striking with two, they curl their body like a powerful spring! I might guess than in a race of 100 meters, for me, an average sized dog would be another 100 meters in front of me. That means in 300-400 meters that dog (or whatever) would be long gone, probably in the trees, out of sight. I'd have to track the animal, and we humans don't smell that well.
    Even if the animal stayed out in the open, he/she would be resting for two to three minutes, or more, waiting for me to catch up, at which point it could run again!
    Besides, I have to figure that there was always that one lazy, smart guy out there on the wild savannas of prehistory, just like there is in every group today. That guy would have said: 'Ya know, this chasing after antelope is NUTS! I'm not doing it anymore. I am going to go hide by the water hole -- because I have observed that animals always drink water -- and I am going to jump out from my hiding place and club my dinner ... running around in the heat ... that's crazy.'
    After all, we humans are not outstanding physical specimens. We may have the sweating trait. But we are distinguished by our large brains.)

    Anyway, running barefoot.
    I have run for many years and I think I have worn my feet out. They are the part of my body that is most painful and most often injured. But not from too much wear and tear. Rather from not using them well enough, because they were bound up in shoes and orthotics, which let them get weak.
    I think it started with plantar fasciitis. I got orthotics, and I ran differently and did not actively use my feet because they hurt too much. Over time, I believe my feet lost strength.

    The only caveat I would give is is that we dwellers in civilization don't run on soft dirt or grass. We tend to run on very hard surfaces. We tend to run to the kind of mileage where we are really stressing ourselves.
    You have to keep that in mind if you are going to go barefoot.
    But, by all means, use your feet! We have been bred to do so.
  • 33gail3333gail33 Posts: 168Member Member Posts: 168Member Member
    I am not running right now due to knee arthritis, but I have both of those types Merrell shoes. I only used the Vapor Gloves on the treadmill. My outdoor walking/running is at my cottage and the road is pit run gravel and stepping on those rocks with barefoot shoes hurts like hell.
  • ExistingFishExistingFish Posts: 593Member Member Posts: 593Member Member
    I don't run, I just lift weights.

    I make my own barefoot shoes for me and my family, I use a 3.5mm rubber for the soles, with a single or double layer of fabric for the insole (like the shoes have an insole and outsole, then a hard sole).

    I think I'm going to seek out some Vibram cherry (what is used the Xero shoe kits) instead of the 3.5mm rubber because it is cracking at the ball of the foot. Also the rubber has worn smooth and the soles are no longer as grippy.

    My other idea is just to do double layer leather and repair when necessary. I have access to plenty of leather. I worry about moisture though. Or leather with a paper thin layer of grip (like is placed on dress shoes for grip) at the ball and maybe heel.
  • ExistingFishExistingFish Posts: 593Member Member Posts: 593Member Member
    The toe floppiness is due to lack of toe spring. I'm experimenting with ways to add slight toe spring to my kids shoes.

    I plan to make some of these soon for the family:

    http://positivelyaligned.com/2012/11/leather-sandals-tutorial/
  • Silent_SoliloquySilent_Soliloquy Posts: 188Member Member Posts: 188Member Member
    @GiddyupTim evolutionarily, the human can run further without stopping than any other animal on earth. That is our greatest evolutionary advantage. You might enjoy watching some documentaries on aborigines who still hunt by the long-exhaustion method. This method is thousands of years old and many people's groups on multiple continents do indeed still catch the majority of their meat this way.

    A gentle jog, is much more efficient than the deer or water buffalo sprint and stop methods. Also the deer corner and turn so much that they cover more distance than the gentle jog chasers do.

    Eventually they lay down abd submit. And are typically killed by puncture wounds.

    Fun correlation ... do a 3:30 half mile, then a 5 minute half until exhaustion... then next week try steady 8:30 miles. Its amazing how much further the slow and steady can get you.
  • GiddyupTimGiddyupTim Posts: 2,745Member Member Posts: 2,745Member Member
    First of all, I just don't get the connection: We used to run barefoot, therefore we sweat and engage in persistence hunting. We might have do both, have done both, but one does not lead to the other.

    They are two, probably unrelated traits. Cats don't wear shoes and they never developed the ability to sweat.
    This idea kind of originated from the barefoot running movement. And it is a false connection.

    I think you would have a lot of argument from evolutionary biologists that our distinguishing characteristic is that we sweat, rather than our large brain.
    Our large brain has allowed us to dominate the world like no other animal.

    So, I suspect that if we had a large brain back in the day, we would have used it. And saved a whole lot of sweat.
    I would also suggest that what the San and other groups do is not simple persistence hunting exclusively.

    In Fair Chase, the documentary about persistence hunting, the subjects -- well trained distance runners -- chased a pronghorn antelope for 15 miles, and it got away. (My point exactly) Then they chased another one for three miles. It, of course, got away too.

    I would simply guess that those subjects burned over 1,000 calories -- easy -- on that 15 miles and came up empty. How many days in a row could you do that, before you walked back into camp empty handed, again, and the wife clubbed you over the head and said: "You flippin' idiot! [I have a wife. I guessing twice!] Stop running around in the hot sun like a numbskull. Go sit by the water hole and hide. Or that path they take every day. Sneak up as close as you can and throw rocks at them; you might not be more successful but you wouldn't be expending so much useless energy that you come home totally famished at the end of every day. Or, do like the cavemen in Spain do. Start a fire and then round them animals up in front of the fire so they get pushed off a cliff or into a narrow canyon where they cannot get away."

    I get it. The notion of running down your food is a kind of romantic picture. ('See mom? I am not as fast as even a mouse. And I am nowhere near as strong as a chimpanzee. But I am not such a weakling and a clod!) But it is simply just super unlikely that there is any efficiency in that strategy. And you need efficiency as a species to get the excess calories to survive the lean times and thrive.
  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member
    GiddyupTim wrote: »
    First of all, I just don't get the connection: We used to run barefoot, therefore we sweat and engage in persistence hunting. We might have do both, have done both, but one does not lead to the other.

    They are two, probably unrelated traits. Cats don't wear shoes and they never developed the ability to sweat.
    This idea kind of originated from the barefoot running movement. And it is a false connection.

    I think you would have a lot of argument from evolutionary biologists that our distinguishing characteristic is that we sweat, rather than our large brain.
    Our large brain has allowed us to dominate the world like no other animal.

    So, I suspect that if we had a large brain back in the day, we would have used it. And saved a whole lot of sweat.
    I would also suggest that what the San and other groups do is not simple persistence hunting exclusively.

    In Fair Chase, the documentary about persistence hunting, the subjects -- well trained distance runners -- chased a pronghorn antelope for 15 miles, and it got away. (My point exactly) Then they chased another one for three miles. It, of course, got away too.

    I would simply guess that those subjects burned over 1,000 calories -- easy -- on that 15 miles and came up empty. How many days in a row could you do that, before you walked back into camp empty handed, again, and the wife clubbed you over the head and said: "You flippin' idiot! [I have a wife. I guessing twice!] Stop running around in the hot sun like a numbskull. Go sit by the water hole and hide. Or that path they take every day. Sneak up as close as you can and throw rocks at them; you might not be more successful but you wouldn't be expending so much useless energy that you come home totally famished at the end of every day. Or, do like the cavemen in Spain do. Start a fire and then round them animals up in front of the fire so they get pushed off a cliff or into a narrow canyon where they cannot get away."

    I get it. The notion of running down your food is a kind of romantic picture. ('See mom? I am not as fast as even a mouse. And I am nowhere near as strong as a chimpanzee. But I am not such a weakling and a clod!) But it is simply just super unlikely that there is any efficiency in that strategy. And you need efficiency as a species to get the excess calories to survive the lean times and thrive.

    I would argue that well trained distance runners today would be considered poor runners back then. Not to mention the lack of hunting and tracking skills back then as well.

    But yes. We developed a bigger brain, and figured out easier ways to obtain food, and this made us lazy and weak. We are now a threat to this planet because of our bigger brain.

    I don't agree with the everything about the whole "Born To Run" thing, but I do believe that we have evolved for running and walking very long distances.

    I also believe that a lifetime of wearing shoes makes our feet weak, and that our feet are perfectly capable of running and walking long distances all by themselves. I would even go as far as to say that minimalist and/or barefoot running (if properly developed) would prevent injuries, and even resolve foot issues.

    This is only my opinion, but it makes total sense to me.
  • tirowow12385tirowow12385 Posts: 639Member Member Posts: 639Member Member
    I would like to try it but it took me at least a year to adapt to shoes and if running on gravel road wasnt so hard on my soles.
  • GiddyupTimGiddyupTim Posts: 2,745Member Member Posts: 2,745Member Member
    Dear OldAssDude,
    I wholeheartedly agree that a lifetime of being shod with shoes leads to weak feet more prone to such things as plantar fasciitis, Morton's neuroma, bunions, etc.
    And clearly we can -- and probably should -- run barefoot as much and as far as we can. Or, at least, dance in the living room barefoot, regularly.
    I never meant to suggest otherwise.
    Now, to make myself sound kooky (more kooky?), have you heard of grounding?
    That is, walking (or running) barefoot outside because there is an actual physical benefit to being in unshod contact with the energy fields of the Mother Earth?
    I don't know ...
    BUT I want to believe it is true.
  • OldAssDudeOldAssDude Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member Posts: 1,422Member, Premium Member
    GiddyupTim wrote: »
    Dear OldAssDude,
    I wholeheartedly agree that a lifetime of being shod with shoes leads to weak feet more prone to such things as plantar fasciitis, Morton's neuroma, bunions, etc.
    And clearly we can -- and probably should -- run barefoot as much and as far as we can. Or, at least, dance in the living room barefoot, regularly.
    I never meant to suggest otherwise.
    Now, to make myself sound kooky (more kooky?), have you heard of grounding?
    That is, walking (or running) barefoot outside because there is an actual physical benefit to being in unshod contact with the energy fields of the Mother Earth?
    I don't know ...
    BUT I want to believe it is true.

    Me too.

    :)
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