Friday, December 19, 2008

Shoes Suck!!!!! And I'm not kidding!

Ok, so for some time now, I've been experimenting with more and more minimal footwear while running. I, like many runners out there, began my running journey with the pricey, pretty, and un-freakin-fuctional, cushy trainers you see in every running shop from here to Zimbabwe-ok, maybe not there, but you get my point. Anyway, this led me to knee pain, hip flexor problems, plantar facitis(sp?), and a host of other stupid injuries. I always thought it was something I was doing wrong in training. 'Maybe I'm not giving myself enough time to adapt?' 'Maybe I'm running too much on pavement?' 'Maybe I'm too heavy and I need to loose weight?' All these thoughts and more plagued my mind as I kept getting injured.

Then it was on to form. I always thought I had a good, natural running form, but left with nowhere else to go, I researched chi and pose running, buying books and videos regarding the techniques. I did drills, videotape, and so forth, not finding all that much wrong with what I was doing naturally.

So finally it was on to the footwear itself. After reading some good blogs from Chuckie
V. and Matt Fitzgerald, I decided to go the racing flat route...what else did I have to loose right? So I broke out the flats and started to train normally again. Things went great. Not every issue was gone, but it was definately better. In addition to the flats, I began to run more on trails as well. About 90 percent of the time, things were fine. No issues. But, like always, there was that nagging little injury or two that kept creeping up.

So that brings me up to today. As I've now started in on my base training for next season (having a coach is a wonderful thing!), I wanted to take it one step further. So I bought, what I thought was the most minimal shoe I could find-the Nike Free 3.0. Ok, so I used them and things were good. Once again, not great, but good. Then, I stumbled onto All I can say is wow. This has forever changed my running life! As I read more and more of the site, I saw the Vibram Five Fingers shoes. Now, to say they are shoes is probably saying too much. I'd say at best they're more like gloves for your feet, providing just enough protection to run and walk off-road and on road. So I bought a pair.

The Vibram's came the other night and I have literally worn nothing else since I got the box in the mail. They are truly an amazing product, and definately the closest thing to a barefoot feeling you can have. Imagine this: They make the Nike Free 3.0 feel like a hiking boot.

Ok, Ok, so where am I going with this....Today I took them out for their first run. What an eye-opener! I never, ever, ever dreamed of running barefoot ( and for that matter thought people that did so were nuts) but I loved it! I believe that the gradual changeover from trainers to racing flats gave me a good base to work from, making the transition to 'barefooting' that much easier. I had an hour run scheduled, and figured I'd where the Vibram's for half of that, then switch over to my Free's. At about 40 minutes, almost as planned, I ran back to the trail head, took the Free's out of my car, slipped them on and cruised off. NO FREKIN' WAY! I thought. I made it about a half mile in the Free's before I turned around, slipped back into the Vibram's and finished the last few miles of the run.

Today was just an amazing expierience. I'm so excited about this new discovery! Truly FREE running, and I feel great! My heart rate was lower during the run, and I even managed to run a bit farther today in the same time as I did on my last run with the Nike Free's on. I have no pain, feel fresher, and am more psyched about running than I've been in a long time. I'm definately all about the barfoot running now!

But where does this leave me? I'll continue to run in the Vibrams for my trail runs, and maybe for a little bit on the pavement if the urge strikes me. All told though, I'm going to go easy with this new discovery. Today was about 8 miles on trials, not a marathon on pavement. The process will be slow and careful because the last thing I want to do is get injured. But I do have to say that a new chapter has been opened in my running life, and I'm very excited to see where it leads!

Push 'till ya puke...Always!!!

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