Having decided to ditch the shoes and focus on barefoot running I felt it was prudent to begin slowly! After all I was leaving the security of closed and protected feet and now willingly exposing my toes to pavement, concrete, rocks, and the occasional dog poo ( a story for another time!)
In barefoot running (BR for short) there is a common phrase used: TMTS.
TMTS stands for To Much, To Soon. TMTS stands for pain and injury. If you do TMTS when first beginning to run / walk barefoot, you will be hurting.
If something starts to hurt when you start moving around barefoot, STOP! Take a break, come back and finish your walk later, put on some shoes. Whatever it is, avoid TMTS.
Shod runners have a tendency to “push through the pain”, “go the extra distance”, and other cliches. This results in injury which leads to poor performance and possible chronic problems later on. In BR we attempt to run lighter and more natural which results in less impact, less wear and tear, and injury free. Focusing on form over speed or distance takes a long time, the results are not immediately available to you as a BR runner. However, what is available is running at a comfortable pace that allows you to enjoy the process.
I started my transition by going barefoot around the house as much as possible. I still wore shoes to run in, but around the house I was using my bare feet. After a while, I moved outside the house, again being light and cautious as there was no rush to complete a set time or distance limit.
Finally, I began to move down the street, and within a few weeks was walking a mile on pavement and concrete. As my comfort level rose, I uppped the speed slightly, eventually reaching a full jog over time. Each time something did not feel correct or slightly uncomfortable, I stopped. On one or two jaunts, my old habits came back and i “pushed through” with immediate results – I had done T MTS and my calves and ankles were not happy.
Moral of my story – go slow. There’s no reason to push hard into BR. Start with 1/4 mile walking for a week, then go to 1/2 the next week. Once your up to a mile then start slowly jogging 1/4 of that mile. Again, watch out for TMTS and if you feel it coming on – STOP!