Today I ran for the first time in Vibram running shoes and thought it might be fun to write about my transition to running in these crazy-looking new “shoes.” I get a lot of good ideas when running and unlike the ideas I get after a martini (or two), my running ideas usually turn out okay when I act on them. I’m thinking it’ll just be a series of short posts (although this opening/explanatory is gonna run long (<--get it?), I can feel it already) describing my transition and runs and thoughts (running thoughts, not martini thoughts) along the way. I am not being paid by Vibram for this. In fact, they don't even know I'm doing this and I don't know how this is gonna turn out in the long run (sorry), so I'm not endorsing Vibram's at this point. I'm not a doctor. I don't even play one on TV. I just want to share my experience because I'm a runner and a writer and I like to write about running.
The experts say you shouldn’t start out running too far in Vibrams, or barefoot, until your body gets used to them. I agree. Last summer I got all excited about barefoot running after reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, and I went out and ran a mile barefoot on the beach. Bad idea. Two blisters. And the next day I could hardly walk I was so sore.
Afterward, I got a pair of minimalist running shoes, some Puma ortholites, and started my transition, using them for shorter runs over the course of almost a year and then transitioning to them completely about two or three months ago. (Probably overkill, but I’m not in much of a hurry here, obviously.)
I bought the Vibrams a couple weeks ago at Uncle Dan's and the saleslady was super helpful. I’d tried asking about Vibrams at a bunch of running shoe stores in town, but got the run around (sorry) They don’t carry them. I suspect since barefoot running is not in their best business interest, they are not interest in supporting them. Although the lady I talked to at Fleet Feet was nice enough to recommend Uncle Dan’s.
At Nice Saleslady's suggestion, I started wearing the Vibrams around the house for a while. The hardest part is getting my toes in them. I remember struggling at the store—it was pretty embarrassing, not being able to get my foot into a shoe—and asking Nice Saleslady, “What time do you close?”
Today I went for my first run in them, about a third of a mile, when my body was all warmed up, immediately after a 3.75 regular run. Results? No blisters, although as I ran I could “feel” the outside of my left ankle, but it wasn’t’ painful. As I ran, I felt my stride shorten (over-striding is one of my many issues, says the husband.) and it was much easier to strike on the balls of my feet. I was a pretty bad heel-striker for years and am now a mid-foot striker, although when I get fatigued and my form goes, I start banging on my heels again. That was another thing I did to help with the transition; during every run, for about a quarter mile or so, a couple of times during a run, I would transition to forefoot striking. I also did some mid-foot striking in the Vibrams for about a tenth of a mile, and that felt okay, too.
After sitting down now for a while, my upper calves are stiff. I'll let you know how my legs feel tomorrow! If you're a barefoot or Vibram runner, I'd love to hear from you!
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Filed under: running