The April 2012 issue of Running Times, in part, was an homage to a bygone era…the late  70’s when shoes were flat, thin-soled, and non-bulky. Moreover, the cover recreated the iconic image and cover pose of Jim Fixx’s “The Complete Book of Running,” which came out in 1977 and eventually sold over one million copies. Bashfully, I admit– those are my weathered-looking 45-year-old legs on the magazine cover. I am running in the same footwear as Fixx’s–  a 1968 Onitzuka Tiger. His were red; mine blue.

The issue also featured an article by both me and Jay Dicharry, who runs the UVA SPEED Lab, that is designed to help any runner make a safer transition to better running form as well as reduce the amount of shoe he or she needs. With just several simple tests and corrective exercises, we describe how or what you can to do to self-assess your own body, and most critically, whether you are “Ready for Minimal”. For example,  one self-test is called “Isolating the Big Toe.”

Both the article and video feature simple self-tests to assess your readiness for minimal and how to improve your foot strength, flexibility, sensitivity and skill.

Don’t despair even if you do not pass all the self-assessments. Start slow and with progression, you will adapt– improving your foot strength, flexibility, sensitivity and skill. This excellent tutorial video by Jay Dicharry, Joel Wolpert, and triathlete Nicole Kelliher, provides three simple self -assessments for minimal running. — Dr. Mark