If you’ve read through our articles or listened to your barefoot friends, you know that you need to gradually adapt to the barefoot running style. Learning proper techniques may be the best thing you do to avoid injuries and increase efficiency, but you won’t see the benefits if you don’t do it correctly.
Here is a simple program for beginning barefoot runners that will be an effective way to adapt your body to the proper running form.
The first week is super easy. All you have to do is start walking barefoot around the house, outside, or wherever there is a safe surface (even the sidewalk is good as long as there’s no broken glass).
Focus on feeling the ground with your feet. Much of barefoot running is based on the fact that the nerves in your feet respond to the surface you’re running on. Since there is little to interfere, you’ll know when your form is breaking, and you can adjust accordingly. Also, when you can feel the ground you’ll be able to sense oncoming injuries before they become serious.
Do this for about a week at first (feel free to continue though!)
After the first week of barefoot walking, you’ll start running lightly (this is where your barefoot running shoes come into play.) The best place to do these runs is a soccer or football field, but any grassy area will do. Sidewalks and concrete surfaces will be a bit too rough to begin with, and the beach is a bad idea. Sand is actually too soft (you won’t be able to run with proper form.)
Here’s what you’ll run for the first week:
20 yards- 3 times
50 yards – 3 times
100 yards- 3 times
Do this workout at least twice during the week (give yourself a few recovery days in between). Don’t work about speed. The important thing at this stage is that you practice the correct form. Feel free to ratchet up the rep numbers after the first week as you get more comfortable with the technique. Still, don’t start running full miles just yet.
You will be sore- this is a good thing. As you run more, the soreness will dissipate and you’ll be able to run longer.Barefoot Running Beginner Program
After about a month (or when the soreness is gone), you can start logging some real miles. Even if you’re a seasoned runner, it’s still important that you take it slow and only run a few miles at a time.
Here’s what a sample week might look like:
Monday- 1 mile
Wednesday- 2 miles
Saturday- 3-5 miles
Listen to your body. If your form starts to break, stop. It is much better to run a little with great form than to run a lot with poor form! By this time, you should be comfortable with proper running technique, and you can increase mileage as you see fit.
That’s it! It will take some time to get used to the barefoot running technique, but we’re confident you’ll never go back. In addition to a plan such as this, various exercises and weightlifting routines will help strengthen foot and leg muscles.