Transitioning to Zero Drop - Hurt my Achilles (I believe) - What to do?

Hello all - 

I've never been much of a runner, although I've run for a few events in the past (a 1/2 marathon 3 years ago, a triathlon last year).  I plan to run a lot more going forward, primarily to do several triathlons per year.

I recently started learning about minimalism and low-drop shoes, and decided I wanted to make the switch.  I needed knew shoes, so what the heck.  I tried about 8 different pair, and ended up keeping the Kinvara 3, Sketchers Go Bionic, and the Merrell Trail Glove - obviously they all serve slightly different purposes.

Over the last 3-4 weeks, I've run an average of about 5 times per week (2-4mi).  I've run twice on the Merrell's, but primarily on the Kinvara and GoBionic.

Overall I've had some mild soreness/tenderness in my calves some days, but nothing that has caused me to miss a day of running.  A couple of times my Achilles felt a little tender, but nothing to bad.  I would have considered it par for the course considering the change I was making.

Yesterday, near the end of a run in the Merrell's (only my 2nd time on them), I felt my Achilles really tighten up - or, I guess I don't know it was my Achilles, but it's basically the whole backside of my lower leg, primarily above the ankle but not up into the calf.  By the evening I was limping around.  I iced and have continued to ice today.  It's feeling a little better, but I certainly can't go run today.

I plan to swim tomorrow.  Then see how it is.  Do you guys have experience with this?  How long (in days, or in how it feels) should I force myself to avoid running?  Also, I plan to go with the Kinvaras only for a few days once I get back at it.  Ideally, I would like to swim tomorrow (Sat) and possibly run in the afternoon, or at least run on Sunday.  Thoughts?


  • You're a prime example for "too much too early" ;-)

    You don't want to hear this but abstain from running until you're o.k. again. The Achilles is the one of the worst body parts to mess around with.

    I'm a "natural" forefoot runner. And even "me" it took a long time to move towards flat and more minimalist shoes. "Too much too early" in combination with a pair of Trail Gloves completely messed with one of my ankles. Took me ages to become pain free again.

  • Rest it first and trigger point out your calf and foot.  Go very easy on the Achilles itself.

    For making the switch from built up well cushioned shoes you have to go really slow.  I would run .5 mile out come back and switch back into my old shoes for the rest of the run.   That was for a week or so then the next time a mile out and back and switch back  into my old shoes.  I made the transition from my old 12mm drop shoes to 4mm drop Kinvara's over a period of about 5 weeks.  It took me even longer to go from 4mm drop shoes to my new zero drops!

  • on top of what these gentlemen said, i say make the kinvara as your regular trainer and your trail gloves and gobionics for transition but start building up slowly. If i'm to make a 5 day training plan for transitioning, this would be it (given that you are back on your top condition);

    Day 1 - kinvara - 2 miles
    Day 2 - gobionics - 1 mile
    Day 3 - kinvara - 2 miles
    Day 4 - trail gloves - 1 mile
    Day 5 - kinvara - 2 miles

    Then slowly add let's say .5 mile on each day every week. This plan just came up to my mind and i'm no pro, just an experienced runner, and i think that it will help you adapt your body on going zero and might somehow prevent injuries you are experiencing right now. Hth.
  • Thanks for the advice guys. Thanks a lot Steve for the video. I learned a lot about the interrelatedness of the calf and Achilles and it will help me in the future.

    Answering Stefen, yes I know I was going to much to early. But, I had been running on these shoes for three weeks and spent some of that time working up. It's not like this was my first week.

    My Achilles was better yesterday and I really don't feel any pain at this point. I might avoid running today still, but will get back out there tomorrow. I will heed your advice and maybe go a mile in the kinvara on the first few runs and then swap out. It's so hard to run in my old Asics Foundation, it feels like I have an anchor on my foot!
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