Step 1 in Barefoot Running

So, you want to run barefoot? Or at least run in minimal shoes. 

You’ve heard all the hype about a stronger foundation, a reduced injury risk, and transitioning to a more natural way of running…you know, the type of running our ancestors did.

Well, now is the time to get started! But that’s the question, where do you start? 

But first things first. If you’re unsure about barefoot running, I’d first tell you to read “Using Barefoot Running to its Maximum Potential,” which outlines the Barefoot Run Review philosophy.

Now in this post, I will introduce the first step everyone must take to transition into barefoot running!  This first step is backed up by multiple research studies and requires almost no change in your day-to-day life.

No extra workout sessions. No reduction in your current training plan. 

Just one simple switch. 

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How to start with Barefoot Running?

It sounds like an obvious answer, doesn’t it?

Just start running…..

But please, do not immediately start barefoot running! 

Running barefoot exerts an entirely different stress through the muscles and joints, a stress you’re likely not used to. 

And as you know, starting any new movement or exercise hurts, and when done in excess, it can injure you! 

Instead, we need to focus on slow improvement and the compound effect. 

Using the Compound Effect

Put simply, the compound effect is the incremental improvements that you make to produce significant results in the long term. 

That’s what we want. Big results! 

To produce the compound effect, we want to progress little by little, regularly. 

For barefoot running, that doesn’t mean one run per week, nor does it mean every run should be barefoot. Quite the opposite. 

We need to slowly build week by week with simple yet gentle practices to produce sizeable long-term effects.

How do we strengthen our feet?

Here’s the tip you’ve been waiting for…… How do we start barefoot running?

Walk….in minimal shoes.

It’s that simple. 

There’s no need to increase your training load. No need to add a new workout to your training plan. 

Just replace your current shoes with minimal shoes! 

Heading to the shops? Put on some minimal shoes. 

Taking the dog for a short walk? Put on some minimal shoes. 

I would add one caveat to this rule, and that’s if you’re heading out for a long multi-hour walk, don’t grab your minimal shoes at first. Long walks can still be strenuous and, at the start, could increase the chances of injury. 

So just replace your everyday shoes with minimal shoes.

What does science say?

How do we know that walking in minimal shoes will work? 

One study shows that replacing your everyday shoes with minimal shoes increases foot strength by ~60% over 6 months. 

The participants in the study wore minimal shoes more than 70% of the shoe-wearing time and at least 6 days a week. So I’d translate that to say, wear minimal shoes “most” of the time. 

AND it’s important to note, they were told NOT to run in minimal shoes. 

That’s right; there’s no need to start running in minimal shoes. That can come later!

Another study shows that runners walking in minimal shoes increased their foot strength by ~40% in just 8 weeks. 

So it only takes 2 months to improve foot strength! And when we continue with minimal shoes, we can see improvements up to the 6-month mark. 

Barefoot Walking in Practice

So what are you waiting for? 

Simply switching your everyday shoes can help with your running goals! It’s so simple and still effective. 

What barefoot shoes to buy?

Lucky for you, you’re in the right place. 

If you’re looking for a trainer replacement, I’ve created a quick quiz to find the right shoe that fits your foot. 

Which minimal running shoe is for you?

Take a quick 5-question quiz to identify the perfect minimal running shoe for your feet! You'll get both road and trail options based on your answers!

Replacing those smart dress shoes, or “cool” looking shoes, is a little more complicated. Because….minimal shoes sometimes look odd, but here are some brands making headway in the trendy designs and they’re worth looking at. 

Vivobarefoot – A brand that creates smart and casual shoes with style in mind

Xero Shoes – Maybe an acquired taste, but they are on the cheaper end of the market and have styles to fit most situations.

Be Lenka – From boots to trainers, lots of great options for all ages.

I can’t advise on all shapes and styles, so if you’re looking for a specific style of shoe or a women’s specific perspective, I’d suggest checking out Anya’s Reviews.

When do I Start Running Barefoot?

I expected to run barefoot!? 

I get it; you want to try running straight away. I did too! 

But it’s important to start slow and introduce minimal running gradually. 

The studies I referenced show that the most significant foot strength increase happened between 0-8 weeks. 

So I’d suggest waiting at least 8 weeks before trying to run barefoot.

And at that point, you should only start with a few minutes at a time. 

Start your run barefoot, loop back around to your house, and put your regular shoes on for the rest of your run. 

If you want a complete barefoot training plan + a training plan for your next race. Get in touch! 

We can work together to create a sustainable training plan using barefoot running to improve your running future!

Instagram – @barefootrunreview 

Email –


Nick is a UESCA-certified ultramarathon coach and avid barefoot runner, having over 5 years of experience in barefoot training and has competed in multiple ultra marathons wearing barefoot shoes. Starting his journey in the running industry over 10 years ago in New Zealand, Nick evolved from a running shoe salesperson to a passionate advocate for the transformative power of barefoot running. He believes in its potential to enhance running experiences for all and combines his unique insights from both personal achievements and professional coaching to guide and inspire the running community."

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