How To Run 5K Without Shoes
Among the many running milestones one can achieve in long distance running we have the 5k Run. It sits alongside the Almighty 26 Mile Marathon and the 13 Mile Half Marathon. The popular 5k (3.1 Miles) Race is run and enjoyed by everyone young and old, from all walks of life the world over.
Running it without shoes or barefoot, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish. We will look at how to do this in this article.
How to run a 5k without shoes?
- Keep it simple and break the race prep into small chunks.
- Strengthen your feet and body.
- Learn the route for the race beforehand.
- Plan out your training well in advance.
- Work up to race distance incrementally.
- Decide your target race time and aim for it.
- Get race day support if you can.
- Have Fun
To make sure that we cover everything, I will work on the assumption that you are entirely new to barefoot running. We will go through everything you will need.
Keep it Simple
Throughout the process of preparing for the race, we will divide everything to make it simple. Here’s what I mean, 5k is also 5 x 1000m or 10 x 500m and so on. The sample training plan further in the article will take this approach.
We will be breaking up the 5k distances into smaller chunks after we get to grip with barefoot running.
One approach could be aiming to run your first 1000m barefoot or in barefoot shoes three times a week with relative ease. Then we aim to do that more often reducing the split time as you improve.
All this, of course, can be scheduled in many different ways. more on that in a moment.
The simpler you keep things the less overwhelmed you will get and the more fun you will have. That’s the whole point right?
Strengthen Your Feet and body
Like it or not if you have NOT run barefoot before you have to do this get your body ready. Your body will have to adapt to the new forces that will get loaded from forefoot striking. The exercises and drills will help to get you prepared for the new barefoot running technique.
The new forefoot running patterns will take some time to get used to, and the drills below will help you get yourself ready.
Here are some simple drills I recommend to cover all these off. Merely try all of them out, then choose your five favourites and add them to your exercise prep routine.
- Standing Hops
- Gazelle Springs
- Jumping Lunges
- Walking Lunge
- Regular Bounce Jump Rope
- Running With A Jump Rope
- Agility Ladder Drills
- Hill Sprints
- Curb Hops
- Air Squat Elevated Single Leg Squat
- Side Plank
- Deep Squat
- Band Assisted Figure Four Run
- Standing Figure Four
- Standing Figure Four Against The Wall
- Buddy Assisted Figure Four Runs
- Running In Place
- Exaggerated Knee Raises
- Running Extended Split Skip
These Strength drills and mobility drills will set you up correctly to get ready to deal with the inevitable DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). Have a look at the full article I wrote on Running Drills here for the details.
Strengthen your feet
As part of the drills and exercises, I just mentioned one of the key things we will be aiming to achieve is stronger feet. If, like most of us you have been used to wearing shoes most of your life your feet will need to be prepared too.
Stronger feet will help your body adapt better to the new types of loads you will be putting on your feet.
I have a detailed article on Barefoot Exercises To Strengthen Your Feet here. You can read through the details but here are some of the drills that you can use to get you started.
- Pencil lifting
- Marble pickup
- Spread the toes
- Ball arch rolls
- Plantar and Dorsiflexion
- Single Leg Calf Raises
Learn The route Of The Race Beforehand.
Since you will be running the 5k Barefoot, or with Barefoot shoes on you will need to have an idea of the terrain and race surface before the race.
If it’s not your regular running one approach is to see if you can get to the route in person or use google earth to have a bit of an idea what to expect on race day. If you are running an area you are familiar with then obviously this does not apply.
Knowing the route will help you plan where you may need support from friend and family etc.
Use a Training Schedule
Needless to say plan, plan, plan. I have added 2 sample plans to act as a guide to get you going. Use them as a reference point and adapt to suit your need accordingly.
The first one is to get you running barefoot; the second is for the 5K planning.
An excellent approach would be to count back from the expected race date. For the 5k barefoot run iI have set it at eight weeks until race day. For the barefoot running training, I have made it 4 weeks till you start training for the race. It means that it will be about 12 weeks of preparation and training all together.
Once again remember this is for the complete beginner. Adjust as you see fit, the key thing here is to ensure that you enjoy the entire process.
Beginners Barefoot Running Trainning PlanThis plan will get you on the way to Barefoot Running.
There is a heavy emphasis on mobilisation and drill to help you overcome and recover from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) quicker.
|1||10 min Barefoot walk||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||15 min Barefoot walk||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||20 min Barefoot walk||Mobilise||Mobilise|
|2||10 min Barefoot Run||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||15 min Barefoot Run||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||15 min Barefoot Run||Mobilise||Mobilise|
|3||15 min Barefoot Run||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||20 min Barefoot Run||20 min Barefoot walk||20 min Barefoot Run||30 min Barefoot Walk||Mobilise|
|4||25 min Barefoot Run||20 min Barefoot walk||25 min Barefoot Run||Barefoot Drills and Exercises||25 min Barefoot Run||30 min Barefoot Walk||Mobilise|
|5||30 min Barefoot Run||30 min Barefoot Walk||30 min Barefoot Run||30 min Barefoot Walk||30 min Barefoot Run||30 min Barefoot Walk||Mobilise|
Sample Barefoot 5K Training PlanBarefoot 5K training plan for the absolute beginner... use this a guide to get you started
|1||1 mile Run||20 Min walk/Mobilise||1 Mile Run||20 Min walk/Mobilise||1 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||30 Min Walk|
|2||1.5 mile Run||30 Min walk/ Mobilise||1 Mile Run||30 Min walk/ Mobilise||1.5 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||30 Min walk/ Mobilise|
|3||1.5 mile Run||30 Min Walk/Mobilise||1.5 Mile Run||30 Min walk/ Mobilise||1.5 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||30 Min walk/ Mobilise|
|4||1.75 mile Run||30 Min Walk/Mobilise||1.5 Mile Run||30 Min walk/ Mobilise||2 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||60 min Walk/Mobilise|
|5||2 mile Run||45 Min Walk/Mobilise||2 Mile Run||45 Min walk/Mobilise||2.75 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||60 min Walk/Mobilise|
|6||2 mile Run||45 Min Walk/Mobilise||2 Mile Run||45 Min walk/Mobilise||2.75 Mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||60 min Walk/Mobilise|
|7||3 mile Run||60 Min Walk/Mobilise||2 Mile Run||45 Min walk/Mobilise||3 mile Run||Rest and Mobilise||60 min Walk/Mobilise|
|8||3 mile Run||60 Min walk/Mobilise||2 Mile Run||45 Min walk/Mobilise||Mobilise||Race Day||Rest|
Work up to Race Distance Incrementally
The plans above are designed for your training for the distance incrementally. The big bang approach is discouraged as I will more than likely lead to you get hurt. In this instance, less is better.
Decide your target Race Time and aim for it
The average race time for a beginner 5k runner with shoes is about 35 mins or less. Add 10 mins to that time for the Barefoot running newbie and bear it in mind during your training and prep.
45mins or less for your first barefoot 5k run is a respectable time to aim at. It will get better the more races you run and the more adapted to running barefoot your body gets.
Get Race Day support if you can
For your first Barefoot race, it is a good idea to have friends or family at the event to support you, just in case you need it. Having some support is a good thing so you can focus on the race. You will have a good idea where you want them to be if you know the race route beforehand.
One of the most important things to note is that you will need to take it slow in the beginning. Shin splints and sore feet, are to be expected as your body adapts. Walk barefoot as much as you can on rest days around the house and for short distances. Lastly, mobilise your feet using the lacrosse ball and other techniques mentioned earlier to improve your recovery rate.
The good thing is once we have navigated past all the preparations, successfully run barefoot and completed your first 5k you will have a greater understanding of what works for you on your barefoot journey.
Then you will be ready to attempt greater distances and even a full-blown marathon in the future.
We have many detailed articles relating to all things barefoot training so have a look round when you are done to get even more clarity.
Have fun on your run and good luck.