Minimalist Endurance Running

As many of you know, I have been running “minimalist” for over 2 years now — in other words, 75% of my running career.

“Minimalist” doesn’t mean I’m trying to be cool and trendy. Actually, it makes me a little marginal. I get plenty of strange looks and skeptical comments when people see me undertaking a marathon in shoes that look like foot gloves.

What minimalist means to me is that the human body is an extraordinary mechanism, a finely tuned orchestra of bones, joints, nerves, muscles and tendons. Regardless of how fit you are, your body is capable of working with maximum efficiency — if you will allow it to!

Your body will always strive to protect itself, and will do what is best for it under the conditions that you subject it to. This can sometimes lead to unexpected results. In the case of “normal” running shoes that are supposedly designed to “protect” and “support” the feet and lower legs, there is a growing wave of public opinion that says these shoes are in fact an impediment to ideal gait, stance and proprioception.

Back in 2010, after doing a lot of reading on the subject, I decided I could not pass judgment on this debate without trying minimalist shoes for myself. So I made the leap and found a new freedom in my running that I had not anticipated.

Two years later, I know for a fact that I will never again do any recreational or race running in so-called “normal” shoes. Indeed, if at some point I do transition away from the Vibrams that have given me such good service, it will most likely be to adopt full barefoot running!

But this is for the future. Right now I am facing the enormous challenge of running 262 miles in 10 days to support Brathay Trust, and as far as I know I will be the first person to complete an event like this in minimalist shoes(*). I know — all this proves is that I am marginally more crazy than my 17 companions. But only marginally…

(*) Of course I am happy to be the third or the three-hundredth, so feel free to set me straight in the comments if that’s the case!


  1. Will you be running all of those marathons with a single pair of VFFs? If so, can you post a photo of your VFF’s after running them? I’d love to see them, battle scars and all, after taking you all of those miles.

  2. I’ve got a pal in Australia who swears by the new foot glove shoes and he is clocking up the mileage. May they give your feet wings. Good luck Rob and we will be following your progress.

  3. Hats off to you Rob. I’m very much a believer but I haven’t been brave enough yet to transition away from Newtons and the like. Make it through the 10 days in VFFs and I’ll dig mine out from under the bed!

    • Thanks for the vote of confidence @Matt. To be honest I don’t think I could complete this challenge without my VFFs – anything else would be too much shoe to carry around! Anyway we’ll have 10 days to compare notes…

  4. Best of luck Rob,

    Looking forward to seeing you all run on day 9, and have the honour of running your victory lap with you on the Sunday…

    I’d be interested to see the shoe wear that 131 miles adds to each of your pairs…!

    I think i’ll go the way Matt has soon and transition via Newtons… How long did it take yuo to transition from normal trainers to marathoning “barefoot”?



  5. You know I’m a big fan of minimalist shoes. Running in vibrams COMPLETELy changed my body and eliminated decades of foot problems (to which a doctor actually suggested removing bones in my toes-could you imagine lol).

    Now, I even switched away from heels and love my new living on the ground lifestyle.

    I just hears of another barefoot running book by a guy that was in an accident, the doctors told him he wouldn’t walk again and he retaught himself to walk AND run by going barefoot.

    Love this post!!

  6. Rob,

    Nick and I are so amazed that you are about to embark on this journey! You can do it. When the miles get hard, just remember how many of your friends are cheering you on. AMAZING!!!!

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