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I've recently started training for the London marathon 2013. I've been running with Brooks Pure trainers for a few months now and have been getting on really well with them. I'm now really tempted to try the Vibram Five Fingers.

This is my first marathon so I'm a bit wary about switching to such minimalist shoes. Should I stick to what I know or give the Vibrams a go? And advice would be appreciated!

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Especially in running, I am a firm believer in "If it isn't broken, don't fix it".

The whole movement of Chi/Pose and extreme minimalist shoes has grown out of a misconception and bad application of "heel striking". Heel striking does not mean that your heel touches first, it has to do with where your foot is when the majority of your weight falls on it.

Many top distance (5k and up) runners are mid to forefoot strikers, but if you look at slow motion video of their strides, their heels appear to be (and are) touching first. However, their legs are not straight in front of them, but slightly bent, and when their weight settles on their foot, most are somewhere between the mid and forefoot, as their body travels over the planted foot.

If you really want to try VFF shoes, I would definitely wait until after your marathon. Transitioning from somewhat minimalist shoes like your Brooks to VFF is going to take a while, and you don't want to still be transitioning or stuck "between" shoes going into your first marathon.

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  • dunno about the first part, but definately agree with the inbetween part. – DForck42 Nov 16 '12 at 17:05
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I agree with the other answer to this question. I like the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mentality. However, I'll add advice regarding the transition to VFF or barefoot running. Follow the guidelines mentioned in Barefoot Running Step by Step. Overall, you want to avoid Barefoot Running Exuberance Syndrome (BRES), which is what the author calls it when you go all out with this new, different form of running before you are ready. As with any workout, don't do too much, too soon.

Also, the book specifically recommends going completely barefoot for a while, before going to the VFFs. Going barefoot first helps you to strengthen your feet and ankles. It helps your body to get used to this change if you do it gradually. Once you do this for a while (the timeframe might be different for everyone), you can slowly transition to the VFFs. The author actually believes (and I think backs up with data) that your shod running will improve even if you're just doing some light barefoot work.

So given that you asked this question about 5 or 6 months prior to the marathon, I'd say no, you shouldn't work VFFs or barefoot running into your routine. However, after the race you should be able to try some barefoot running, then work up to VFFs after a period of time.

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