Following up on the last post , I began my barefoot running this year a couple of weeks ago. This time I am doing it all on hard surfaces (pavement). I believe this type of surface forces you to land correctly.
When I first started, I could barely run 100 feet on asphalt without stopping. Of course, I started to wonder if all this was a good idea, and how long it would take to improve. Nevertheless, I stuck with it and tried to go a little further each time. I ran every other day, resting in between to allow my body to adjust.
Last night, I ran a mile on pavement. I had no knee pain, no back pain, no pain of any kind. I'd say that's pretty good progress for two weeks time. Lee Saxby recently said a person looking to run barefoot should plan on a six-week period for adjustment. That sounds about right to me.
One neat thing about barefoot running is that your body and brain seem to make adjustments without any mental effort. For example, after the second time out, I woke up the next day and my right knee hurt. The next time I went running, I didn't try to correct my form or anything, yet my knee was fine and continued to be fine afterwards. I feel the brain and the bare feet somehow work together to smooth out the stride.
I'd say most of the adjustment for barefoot running on pavement is in the form of strengthening muscles and tendons that have been sheltered by shoes. Very little of it is toughening up the feet. As Barefoot Ken Bob recently pointed out at his seminar, if you learn to run correctly and gently, then you really don't need to toughen up your soles that much.