There’s no specific science or step-by-step guide that can predict how long it will take your body to become accustomed to barefoot running.
If your running technique already implements some (or most) of the running techniques I noted above, this takes no time at all. For others, it will take longer since they need to learn a new skill.
Once again, you’ll want to pay attention to your body and get comfortable with not rushing the process. You must build up gradually to give your feet a chance to change (more on that in a bit) and your body time to adjust.
At the end of the day, getting used to running barefoot is largely going to take as long as you make it. The more often you go out for barefoot runs (following the advice we’ve covered), the sooner you’ll feel comfortable doing it.
Still, here are some other tips that I’ve found effective.
For starters, do not forget to stretch, stretch, stretch!
This is both for safety and stamina reasons.
Find a staircase or some raised surface after your barefoot running session to use for a great calf stretch. Be sure only to stretch one foot at time – carefully – to avoid overdoing it.
Once you’ve started barefoot running in earnest, you can add some preparatory and supplementary activities, like Pilates and core exercises to your everyday stretching routine. Adding such steps helps both your body’s core and your feet to undergo the necessary changes, guiding your body to a faster grasp of barefoot running techniques.
Regarding your steps, if you avoid landing too much on your toes (which strains the calves) and can keep yourself from heel striking, then your calf soreness should disappear within a few weeks.
Additionally, focusing your attention on your running style helps your feet and body start transforming to facilitate a fuller transition.
For instance, by focusing on shorter strides with your cadence and by leaning forward from the angles and not the waist, you can physically transform your feet by building up arch strength and raising your arch.
Ultimately, adherence to the safety steps I’ve covered above – including proper stretching – is imperative. But almost equally imperative is your comfort with knowing the transition can take some time before you feel comfortable running barefoot.
Taking the Next (Barefoot) Step
Whether you currently run five miles a day or are just now beginning your running journey, consider giving barefoot running a shot.
Start slow and let your body (and mind) adjust. Take note of running techniques I’ve mentioned above.
If you do, you may just find that you’ve found your next favorite activity.