T Nation

'Bare-Foot' Running Shoes


I've recently started getting into running, and I've been running in very thin soled shoes as I've been reading a lot about barefoot running. I used to suffer with a lot of knee pain, but since I've been using this style of running the pain has completely gone.

I've been wearing a pair of really cheap shoes that are two years old and falling apart. They aren't designed for exercise, they are just cheap lace-up casual shoes.

I was just wondering if anyone else on here does this style of running and if so what shoes do you wear? I've read about Vibram 5-fingers and Nike Frees but I was also wondering if people had had success with cheaper plimsoll type shoes?

Thanks for your time.


I have been using my Vibram Bikila for about a year and a half now. I only use them to lift but there was a brief time I used them for running. They definitely helped with my shin splints but running is very rough on my hip (I have perthes disease) so I stopped. I love them as a lifting shoe as well.


For over 20 years i have been avoiding shoes.
At home it is barefoot or only socks when it is cold.
I would focus on surface. I would avoid any hard surface.
Anything close to barefoot is worth a try.
Maybe alternating running/jogging, cycling and or swimming if you put in many hours to avoid overuse issues.
All the best !


I use the nike free's. The cheaper $60 ones and like them a lot. Looking at replacements now due to wear. I believe the nike's have a lot more forgiveness than the vibrams. Then of course there's these: http://www.pfflyers.com/The-Original-Sandlot/MC1001-SL,default,pd.html?dwvar_MC1001-SL_color=Sandlot&start=1&cgid=10001


Thanks for the reply. I just looked up the Nike Frees - I see they have different numbers based on how thin the sole is. What number do you have, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks again.



dont put too much into what kind of shoes to buy. get a pair and get out training.. these athletes dont worry at all about shoes. they train.. get going..


I'm wearing the "Flex Run": http://www.champssports.com/Mens/_-_/N-24/keyword-nike+flex?cm_REF=Men%27s

My previous pair were "free's", comparable to the free 3.0's but with less cushion( bought back in 2010/11). The flex run's are close in feel, little more padding, and about 2/3's the price. I'm in the air between getting another pair or trying a trail shoe now that winter is coming.


I really like the Merrell Trail Glove. I have had two pair now and wear them for lifting, off road running (I swore off hard surface running a few years ago) and often just around town running errands. I think that you can find them just about anywhere for $70ish.


Thanks a lot, that's exactly the kind of thing I was looking for!

Best wishes


Happy to help. It's funny - I put on my pair of Brooks running shoes the other day and they felt as if I were wearing snow boots. They were the best shoes I could find for running on asphalt. But after you get used to using a no support shoe, everything else feel clunky and awkward.


I would agree with spk here. Hard work trumps all... and learning to run efficiently is a lot of help too.

That being said:
Cheap shoes (like less than or equal to $60) may look bulky and not minimalist, but they really are just soles with a cover over them... given some time of consistent running they'll start to "fall apart" into some minimalist shoes.

Or you can fork over the money for Inov-8's. I think these shoes are the best minimalist not-toe-shoes... they just fall apart quickly if you're not light on your feet.


Thanks. I agree with spk too, for sure, and I run at least every second day just wearing my cheap shoes.

I just wanted to invest in something a little more durable, because my current shoes are rapidly disintegrating and they are really bad on slippery surfaces.


I absolutely hate running in "barefoot" shoes.

I'm a 230 pound, 6 foot man. More than a quarter mile and I literally bruise the balls of my feet, then my heals as I allow them to take impact instead.

I'll take padding all day. I run to increase my VO2 max, in some cases to spike and prolong EPOC and to burn additional calories.

I'll build ankle strength on leg day at the gym.


Really? Sorry to hear that. I'm 215lbs and I haven't had any problems. Which barefoot shoes have you used?


Vibram and Nike. It's a matter of physics.

I'm willing to bet most people who have "never experienced" problems chalk up the pain of bruising to "progress", however illegitimately.

"Oh shit, my ankles hurt and my feet are sore and swollen, clearly I'm working my little muscles that have been neglected for so long. I'm becoming an animal."

No, you're bruising the shit out of yourself, headed for shin splints and not increasing your cardio effectiveness to any significant degree.


I absolutely love Vibrams and need to get another pair. Granted, I only worked up to 8 miles in them, but I never experienced the shin splints I suffered with regular shoes.


I don't know. I'm 6'4" and around 230 and I have comfortably run 2.5-5k in my NB Minimus trails on a pretty regular basis, physics or not.

400m repeats result in no foot pain at all (but all kinds of other pain). My calves/ankles/arches were a little tight after the first few times out (balls and heels were fine), that was it.

I don't really care one way or the other what anybody else runs in, I don't get people who go all evangelical about this crap, but minimalist stuff works fine for me.

I would also agree that how (form), how much and how fast you run is infinitely more important than what you run in, but I don't think that was ever really the question.


Maybe there are 2 different ways.
- 400 M = running.
- 30 to 90 min. = jogging.
Many say they ran a marathon but for most it could be called jogged.
Short distance versus 1 hour plus is different in my experience.
Joggers who like to jog usually do over 5 hours weekly outside.
Motorized help is not even considered.
Footwear is a personal choice.
Overuse problems are a reality.


I'm not sure what you mean by "motorized help".

I run 2400m/1.5mi in about 9:30 or about 6:25/mi. That's not at all fast by competitive running standards but it's not exactly jogging.

I have found that overuse problems aren't as common as technique problems, whether we're talking about running, lifting or whatever else.

Footwear and training modalities are totally a personal choice. That said, no amount of cushioning or motion correction will protect your joints from the long term effects a heavy foot strike. It will, however, protect your feet so you don't get that immediate, negative feedback that tells you not to do it that way.


" I'm not sure what you mean by "motorized help "
When people do it with a rolling carpet that needs electricity to power the motor.
Like a motorized vehicule is not an exercise device.