This post has been several years in the writing.
It all started with this New York Times article about barefoot running that was published in 2011. I’d heard about barefoot running from some friends and seen the funky looking “toe shoes” around my local running trail. You know the ones:
As a life-long runner, I was curious. Even though I had never sustained an injury from my running, could learning to run ‘barefoot style’ help me? I started reading more and more about the subject, and I learned one main thing: people definitely had opinions about whether this barefoot running was a fad or backed up by scientific fact.
I continued to do more research, and in the Spring of 2012 I bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers in the model pictured above. I took the advice of nearly every reviewer of the ‘shoe’ and broke them in slowly for about a month. I started by wearing them only about five minutes a day around the house, then I worked up to wearing them outside while walking to pick up my boys from school, and then I wore them on a 15 minute walk in my rather hilly neighborhood. Everything felt okay, so I decided I was ready to take them for a run.
One mile. I wanted to start out slowly (again, what The Collective Voice recommended), so I chose to run just one mile. And I felt great while doing it.
The next day, however, my calves felt like they were both in giant knots. I did some myofascial massage with my foam roller, and I headed out for one more mile. I felt like my legs loosened up a bit, but I was working so hard to adjust my gait to land on my forefront (rather than being the heavy heel striker I’ve always been) that my hips got really tight.
I repeated this test a few more times, but I never got comfortable with barefoot running.
But I’m no quitter! Another six months went by, the popularity of ‘toe shoes’ continued to rise, and I decided I’d give them another try. I repeated the break-in process, this time taking six weeks of daily walking in the shoes to try and focus on gait adjustment.
Finally, I took my shoes on a weekend trip giddy that they took up so little room in my suitcase. I ran 3 miles the first day, took a day off, and ran 4 miles the following day.
I could barely walk for a week.
At that point, I realized that I either needed some form coaching (like the video feedback mentioned in the article that started it all) or I should go back to my old shoes. Not one to admit defeat easily, it took my logical and reasonable husband to point out that I had never missed so many days of running due to injury in the 13 years we’d been together as I had since trying to become a barefoot runner.
So logic won. I’ve been back in my Asics for 18 months and have had zero problems.
But what about you? Have you tried barefoot running? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences as you transitioned your body and your gait into this ‘new’ style of running.
Good health and great happiness to you.