Questions & Answers

Minimal with speed?

Of all the videos I've watched of people demonstrating barefoot running I can't seem to find anyone running faster than a moderate pace. My long-term goal is to be have a sub 3hr marathon. Does anyone have any experience in this regard? Is it recommended to go minimal if I am going that speed for that long? Any insight is welcome. Thanks.


Answers and Replies


Very helpful, Damien, thank you. This research has led me to pick up a pair of the Newton Neutral Trainers. I'll see about getting the Racer when I am ready for a race. It has a maximal look but Dr. Mark sold me on the newtons(watching videos of him teaching proves to me that he definitely knows what he's talking about). Although, I'm keeping my vivobarefoots for everything else.


I can't find the link where I read there was no heel-raise(I hope I'm not making that up). Here is a link that says that Newtons were designed specifically to encourage barefoot running by giving the feel of running barefoot. There is cushioning. The technology they are primarily pushing are the lugs in the mid-foot to cushion and cause a "lever" action while running. Also, the wear on the lugs is supposed to help guide you to a better gait. They have tests to find out which shoe would be best for you but all their shoes are designed to get any type of gait to run in proper form. Of course, most of this I have just read directly from their site, so this will be admittedly biased. I have to say again it is really Dr. Mark's endorsement of these that is having me trust my dollars on getting a pair. So, I will give a personal analysis when I receive them and break them in.


I'm sorry I mentioned the wrong shoe. The Trainers have a 2mm heel-raise. I have switched my order to the Racers, which don't have a heel-raise. The trainers have added space there to help people come off of heel-striking.


Bunthius, Great question and thanks for reading the zero-drop blog. The only way to run fast and efficient is with good form...and shoes with zero drop complement that.

On our store website ( we have oodles of video's from modern and historic times showing good form and all of these runners are in slippers for the most part. Banister, Pre, Shorter, Viren, Geb. these folks are also strong enough to run in minimal shpoes becacause they have been doing it their whole lives.

Newton shoes as you mentioned are great to learn good form and the Distance great for performance.




Mark, Thanks for chiming in! In fact, I am just finishing the last of the inspirational videos at the end. I have spent most of the day watching all of your videos. I have learned a great deal today through your body of work. At one point I stopped and ran 3 miles to try out some new ideas. It was great! Much easier run. At one point I bumped the treadmill to 12mph(max) and nearly ran into the front of the console, I was going too fast for it. Yeah I can definitely get the speed using this running style. Now, I just need to work on the endurance.

One thing I thought was very interesting in your videos is a tip you gave during a class session was to allow the top of the leg to go back(not be forward) and you mentioned the anterior tilt of the pelvis. I studied for a year with a group called the Balance Center in Palo Alto, CA. They study indigenous cultures and their use of body and posture. Your tips fall directly in line with their body of work. for more info. Well, I thought it was pretty incredible how there are such similarities coming from sources so far apart. This tells me there is real truth here in this body of knowledge.

You know what else is great for posture? Tango! I kid you not, its great. hard too.



thanks for checking our site out. Yes the Tango gets one to lengthen the spine and add the zumba for pelvic rotation in the correct position for running and dancing...the level pelvis. Learn to stand on one leg, fall forward, pick up will run forever.



I ran a 5k in 20 mins. I don't know if you guys think that is fast. I will be trying to break 19:30 this summer.

the key is high turnover. short strides

i was in home made sandals. no heel 5mm


I run the 5k in anywhere from 18:02 - 18:24 in Evo's which are minimalist shoes. I've also run a sub 40 min. 10k in the Evo's. However, I don't run exclusively in Evo's. If you want to run fast, the ball game changes and the barefoot/minimalist movement focused on speed and performance as that's another issue.

The research being done by the likes of Dr. Lieberman and others is around load, pressure and variance in foot plant but that hasn't been directly tied to injury much less to speed and performance. Obviously, there's Zola Budd but she ran almost exclusively on the soft track and Bikila. There's a reason the elites train in racing shoes and trainers and there's a reason they rotate shoes based on the type of workout and terrain to reduce the chance of repetitive stress injuries and maximize performance.

You can definitely run fast either barefoot or in minimalist shoes but there's a lot more to it than what's on your feet, or not on your feet. I focus on the 5k so all my training is based on that distance and I use the 10k and longer distances for training but my hard work is tailored toward the 5k. You would have to adjust accordingly for a marathon focus.

The real question which many avoid, is why do you want to run barefoot or in minimalist shoes? I use barefoot and minimalist shoes as a tool in my bucket but I only started it because it helped strengthen my feet which has helped me stay injury free for quite some time. I won't think barefoot/minimalist is the absolute answer, nor is over cushioned shoes as the answer probably lies in the middle somewhere but exactly where the answer lies will vary from person to person.



brunthius, I just completed the CIM in Sacramento in December in 3:00:54 wearing VFF Bikilas. I was shooting for a 2:55, but the wall hit me. My best 5K is 18:33. I am shooting for a sub 18 5k and going for my 2:55 again this year. I run full time in Bikilas.



Great reply. the shoe (or lack of) is just a tool to help strength and form in training and living. I do a ton of trail running and activity in EVOs with no insole and Kigos. Get really strong that way and low to ground is great for uneven surfaces...impossible to roll ankle.
For pure speed in marathon and ultra distance on firm surface the Newton Distance rocks. It gives something back as you let it go and allow elastic recoil to work for you. Here is a slow mo at M17 Boston Marathon at sub 6 min/mile. staying relaxed and midfoot. in my barefeet, vibrams, or other true minimal shoe it would take a lot of adaptation for a person growing up shod like myself to run fast, relaxed and let it go for 26 road miles. For a shorter distance, yes, could let it fly sans shoes.


Thank you everybody for your responses. Those are great times and times that I aim to hit on both the 5k and the marathon. I want to get a sub 20min 5k before I start the real marathon training.

I agree with Mark. Harry you gave me a great perspective on the subject matter. The reason I would like to stay minimalist I believe has to do with my upbringing. I grew up on the North Shore of Oahu and if anyone is familiar with the area most kids there wear a pair of slippers(flip-flops) at the most. I was often barefoot growing up and thought that black, thick-calloused soles were how feet were supposed to be since everyone I knew was like that. I feel entirely at home barefoot and have some major arches that make most shoes feel restrictive. I became cautious to my all minimal approach when I noticed that just about all elite runners had maximal, cushioned looking shoes.

Anyway, I received my neutral racers in the mail yesterday. I will not have a chance to try them until saturday as my calves are overworked from the excitement of new running methods that I have been putting to the test. I did a mini jog around my apartment and they will take some getting used to but I do like how flat they feel. If I can't make these work I will most likely be going full minimal.


(It shouldn't need to be said because I am the one writing this but below is my opinion only.)

Tried out the Newton Racers yesterday. I'm a fan. At first I was apprehensive because the lugs were an unusual bulk that I now had to consider. I felt the extra cushion on the sole vs. my vivobarefoot neos actually helped guide me to an easier stride. That is because I know what to feel for while running and so I could enjoy the added cushion for what it is and not stamp down into it. I probably wouldn't know that if I hadn't been barefoot half my life and enjoy running barefoot/minimal(4mm soles). But I do say all that with extra caution to someone who has not addressed their form. I would be hesitant to recommend Newton shoes to someone who was trying to fix their form with a shoe and not by addressing the overall posture and muscle-coordination. I don't even think Newton(the company) themselves would suggest that the shoe be the fixer because they offer plenty of resources on their site to guide people to the right form via videos and articles.

The mesh of the rest of the shoe feels great. My foot has great movement in the areas that matter and the airflow cannot be improved. I really like the flat feel of the shoe and I didn't feel my foot was being manipulated (not sure if the non-neutral newton shoes boast this aspect). I can't really comment on if these shoes help with my speed but my natural pace was pretty fast and I left my running partner in the dust without trying, but that sort of always happens. It could have been a placebo effect because maintaining the higher speed was very easy. Overall, I am satisfied with my purchase and these are keepers in my book.

There is one GIANT CON though.... Get a new color palette for the sake of my eyes! I am already a tall freak(2m) with an afro and a beard please I don't need to be running at 10mph in clown shoes! I can't tell you how many stares I got yesterday and the comments I hear as I ran by haha. I have no shame, I go for what is the most efficient always but cmon... a little class, please? that's all I gotta say.


Bunthius you are correct that the purpose of Newton is teaching good form and the shoes themselves will not fix this....that is why Newton hosts form clinics throughout the country which I have been a part of. These are great fun and good learning so check one out if near you. You can go faster that barefoot or true minimal in these for sure over longer distances using the technique you describe. The colors? There may be a military inspired version in the future so stay tuned. Until them embrace the brightness. Mark


Of course I was being tongue-in-cheek with my comments about the colors as I new what color they were when I bought them. If it works, I don't care one bit about the color but if I could have picked the colors myself then I can barely imagine worse color choices, LOL. And the shoes do work. The military style would hopefully be right in time with when I wear this pair out. Cool.


At the other end of the distance spectrum, many years ago when Sebastian Coe was at the top (yes, that dates me!) I was in Hyde Park in London one day, enjoying the sun and wearing totally flat, thin-soled gladiator sandals. I came upon Mr SC himself, who was inviting people to have a timed 1-mile run "with" him (that last part was a lie, since I got my certificate signed by him but I can tell you he definitely did not run at my side).

Anyhoo, it was the fastest mile I've ever run, before or since, and on bumpy grass, and everyone was gob-smacked at my footwear.

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