Monday, January 7, 2013

My wrong paths to barefooot running

It's funny that what got me into running at last was largely due to Nike and their Nike Free Shoes. I had often thought about how much better I liked being barefoot and only if there was a shoe without so much, um, shoe, I would probably like running more than I did then Nike came out with the Free and that was it, I had to have them. I started running 3 times a week going out for a mile or so around the park near my house as hard as I could go. I began to actually like running........ a lot. In fact so much so that by the end of summer I felt pretty fast and could actually say that I, "liked running" out loud to friends.
  That Fall I was informed that running in Frees was a very bad idea and that if I didn't want to hurt myself especially now that I was signed up for the Hood to Coast I'd better get some serious running shoes and so I did. What followed was an ongoing battle with knee and shin splints but to be fair I had ramped up the distance too quickly and looking back that may well have been a big part of it. I went to a physical therapist to fix the problem but by April I was still not back to regular training without pain. I decided to try out the Vibrams and see what would happen.
  From the first few steps I knew I liked them and after a few minutes noticed that I had no shin pain at all. It was apparent that all of my running woes were over, I had found the answer! Yep, that's right, just like that my troubles were, yeah.
 I began increasing my mileage too quickly and it wasn't just on the nice flat roads; I ran hills and trails and did speed work all in a panic to be ready for Hood to Coast at the end of August.
 I don't remember all of my woes but here are a few highlights:
  Six mile run on a rolling hill route, completely barefoot: Blistered soles so badly I couldn't walk properly for a week.
  Racing at top speed at all times on all runs: I was new and never heard of building a base or increasing slowly plus I was in denial, I was special. The suffering from this is a laundry list but in the interest of those who are still reading here are the maladies I can remember: 1) calf soreness, (note that this was major and if you transition to minimalist running this will also be your fate as well), 2) Achilles tendonitis....chronic. (kinda goes with the calf thing), 3) I.T. band syndrome. Only lasted a month or so. 4) Plantar Fasciitis. This one plagued me for a long, long time. 4) Sciatica. This one was apparently something I already had but was exacerbated by over training.
  Those were the main things and all have been resolved and so with my first blog post coming to a close I would like to ask anyone who reads this a few questions.

If you've tried or want to try minimalist running:
1) What is/are your biggest worry/worries going in?
2) What is your number one question about minimalist running?
3) What can I do to help with your transition.

Keep in mind that I'm not a physician, just a fellow runner who made the transition at the age of 47 and am now 51 and running healthy, barefoot and minimal. I just finished my 4th marathon in Seattle and had a damn great experience. I was not trashed at the end despite giving a 100% effort and getting my Boston Qualifier at last.

Happy running,

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