How can a runner transition from sneakers to barefoot?

There are two main ways to transfer from running in sneakers to running barefoot:

  1. Transfer Method. Keep your weekly miles the same, running both shod and unshod, slowly moving the amount of miles run shod to unshod.
  2. Cold Turkey. Stop running shod completely. Gradually build up your miles running barefoot.

If your end goal is to run in minimalist shoes, it is still wise to run barefoot until your body is fully adapted. The entire process will be much quicker as you will be receiving richer feedback.

The Transfer Method

This method is best suited for runners who are mid-foot strikers.

Heel strikers who attempt this method will find themselves in an awkward situation. For the unshod portion of their runs, they will be landing on the mid-foot, while feeling "off" due to the change in form.

For the shod portion of their runs, they will most likely start running on the mid-foot, and revert to heel striking when their mind wanders, or their body tires.

It is impossible for the body to feel comfortable being forced into two separate running forms -- this increases the risk of injury.

Mid-foot strikers will find that running barefoot still requires adaption, but the changes required are easier because they are less dramatic.

The Cold Turkey Method

This method is best suited for runners who are heel strikers, or who are recovering from an injury. Since this type of runner requires a fairly drastic alteration in form, the change must be the only way the body is allowed to move.

It is too difficult to force the body to run in two different poses, while trying to mentally communicate that the way that feels more awkward is the one you want to keep stick with. Your body sticks with what it knows

By going cold turkey you can completely focus on the changes you are forcing onto your body, while never letting up, or sending the body mixed signals by reverting to a heel strike.