Good morning, mammals! I just got in from my trail run. I did two miles on the lakeside trial at IC King park. I know most of my fit friends out there will not be very impressed with such a feat, but for me, it is quite a milestone. It is the longest that I have run non-stop off road, and that isn’t even what has me excited. The amazing thing is how damn easy it was. If it wasn’t for a little pain in my feet (which are still bruised from hitting a patch of rocks a couple of days ago), I would almost call this run… effortless.
I remember back when I was in my twenties and going through a running phase. I was actually lighter back then, at around 200 pounds even. I took up running on a rubber coated track at a local high school. I was also using conventional padding “running shoes.” It was absolute torture. I could barely crank out one mile, and that nearly put me on the ground. Needless to say, the phase didn’t last long. It was too painful.
Up until a few months ago, I had been suffering from foot pain, mostly in my left heel. It had been that way for years, mostly I thought, from having a job where I stand on my feet for eight to ten hours a day. I was getting worse, so like most people, I take my concerns to a doctor, a podiatrist to be exact. She gave my feet a quick look, and then basically told me that my feet were defective. “Supination,” they roll to the outside. She told me that I would have to have custom-made orthotics to correct the problem. I had just discovered the world of barefoot and minimalist running literally a few days before, so I asked her if doing these activities would help my condition. The look on her face instantly changed to one of, “Oh boy, here we go. I’m going to have to set this poor uneducated fellow straight.” I specifically told her that I would like to try walking and running in Vibram Five Fingers. She said that doing so would not help my condition, but only make it worse, and possibly cause a severe injury. “Face it, kid, you’re broken. You weren’t born to run, you were born fucked up.” (my paraphrase)
I was pretty downcast after the doctors visit. I followed her advice and got fitted for some high-tech orthotics to straighten my birth defected feet out. I worked a few weeks in them. There was some reduction in pain, but it didn’t really “fix” me. Little did she know that I still had plans to experiment on the dark side.
Not long after that fateful day with the podiatrist, I got my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers. I had to order them off Amazon since none of the stores around here carried them anymore. I was quite surprised by this. A few years ago they were all the rage, now they were nowhere to be found. I asked why and was told that there had been a lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit was apparently due to Vibram claiming that the Five Fingers would help strengthen your feet and decrease injuries from running. I don’t know all the details of the suit, but the outcome was not favorable for Vibram. This caused a lot of stores to pull the Five Fingers. This worried me a little, but I was still determined to find out for myself if they could or could not help me.
The shoes finally arrived, but they didn’t fit. I gave it my best guess but was off. They were too big. No problem. I returned the shoes and reordered the next size down. A few days later I had my KSO’s. They fit like a foot glove. By this time I had seen every video of Christopher McDougall and Barefoot Ted that was available on Youtube, and I had just started reading Born to Run. I was very happy to get my Vibrams, but I had already advanced a little in my thinking. Doc had told me that running in Five Fingers would be foolish, but now I was ready to go one better. I was ready to try walking and running in nothing but my bare, broken, feet. Total madness!
I am now a few weeks into it. I have been running almost every morning, barefoot, and now running on the trails with my Vibrams. I haven’t been stupid though. My feet and legs are not conditioned to do this yet, so I am taking it slow, listening to my body. The first mile I did barefoot, left both feet bruised and hurting, so I took a day off. The next time I ran I took it very slow. After today’s run, my feet are sore again, so I am taking tomorrow off to let them rest.
At work, I have noticed that, besides the bruises, I have no more heel pain. I think my feet are changing, getting stronger. I am very impressed with the results of my barefoot experiment so far, but I need to cautiously continue, to see it through, and then make a conclusion.
Monday morning I am going to add a little more distance to my morning run. I am going to slowly, maybe very slowly, add distance. My weight is dropping, and I hope that as it goes down and my feet stronger, I will eventually be able to handle long distances without the need to recover after every run. We’ll see.