It started a few months ago. While reading up on my favorite blogs (for example, Michael Hyatt‘s blog) I was intrigued when I found photos of a funny looking new running shoe. My first thoughts?
Wow. Those are some ugly shoes.
The images of these shoes brought to mind old episodes of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. You know, the ones that featured gorillas chasing each other around in the wild.
And yet, the concept of “barefoot running” was more than intriguing. I mean, the Kenyans do it so well. Did they know something I didn’t know?
I ran my first (and only) half marathon about two years ago. Somewhere during that race, I injured my knee and was unable to run again for about a year. I’ve been a runner for 34 years–Don’t do the math, people!–and after that run, I thought my running days were over. Now in my forties, my bones were simply wearing out.
Or were they?
Last year I was asked to coach a Girls on the Run team of 3rd – 5th grade girls at my daughter’s elementary school. One of my two co-coaches, Melinda, was a forty-something avid runner who was training for a 50 mile run that season. (Yes, I said 50 miles.) She encouraged me that my running days were not, in fact, over.
Melinda introduced me to a foam roller to ease some of my muscular/knee running pain. Her advice was priceless and soon I was back on the road again, enjoying the sport I thought I had retired.
Back to the shoes: I bought my husband a pair of Vibram Five Fingers for Christmas this year. He took his first run Christmas day and came home gloating about the feel of running in the shoes. For the next few days, he talked of little else. Under the guise of sneaking out for a pizza, I instead drove to our local Jesse Brown store and slid on a pair to try for myself.
Okay, “slid on a pair” is not an accurate phrase. I tugged and pulled and then pulled them back off again many times because my toes were jammed into the wrong spaces. No one prepared me for how difficult it is to put on those shoes for the first time! And yet, once I had them on my feet, it was a sale.
Just to let you know, the shoes are much easier to pull on now that I’ve gotten the hang of it. And the feel of running in them is exquisite. Yes, I look goofy, I know, but I’m long past the days of caring how I look when I run.
In future posts, I’m going to write about how it feels to run “barefoot” in my Vibram Five Finger shoes. Let’s just say that the warnings of calf soreness in the beginning are …. a bit of an understatement. But I can already tell that my hip joints and knees are thanking me for making the switch.
If you’re interested in the science behind barefoot running, here’s an excellent video from Nature Video and The Barefoot Professor. That’s your homework for today!