I really, really wanted to like running in Vibram running shoes. I suppose this made me biased from the start of my little experiment here, but, over a year after I started, I no longer run in them. They did, however, change my running form. I think for the better.
Now, I’m a solid mid-to forefoot striker and I don’t lapse into heel striking, even when fatigued. After last fall, and that 15k, I never went back to the Five-Fingers and just stuck with my Merrells and my Pumas for the winter, and have been injury-free ever since.
However, after running in the Merrells (with the Vibram soles), I noticed a crunchiness in my lower back. A popping that happened when I walked or moved or inhaled too deeply and I did not think this bode very well for the long-term health of my back. When I ran in the minimalist Pumas, this crunchiness/popping didn’t happen.
My conclusion: this old girl needs some cushioning.
Today I’m running in Nike Free’s, but am considering a switch back to regular old running shoes to see how it goes with my new foot strike. Sadly, I’m slower now. Much slower. With my new foot strike I average eleven to eleven and a half minute miles. (So all you hard bodies who get all smiley and smug when you pass me, realize your accomplishment is about as impressive as passing that guy carrying his groceries home from the store.)
Also, I’ve been having issues with my right quad, which just seems to turn to lead at about a mile to a mile and a half. After walking (or stretching it) for a few minutes, it loosens up and will either go away completely for the remainder of my run, or I have to repeat the walk/stretch process until I’m finished. I think it’s because of my new running form, but who knows? Could just be getting old. (The toe numbness disappeared when the temps rose about 50 degrees.)
I don’t regret getting on the minimalist running bandwagon—I believe I have better form because of it. I actually wish it had worked out. But I believe I need the cushioning, no matter what the barefoot or minimalists might say. Our ancestors may have evolved to run, but unlike A City Mom, they weren’t running on cement streets and sidewalks.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is the conclusion of an eight-part series, the first of which you can find here. The rest of the posts are available in the right rail >>>>under "Transitioning to Vibram Running Shoes")
(EDITOR'S OTHER NOTE: Kim Strickland is the Editor.)
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