Still running: Going Minimalist

Reading Christopher McDougall’s highly interesting and inspirational “Born to Run”, I came back to my idea of running (semi-)barefoot. Turns out there are a lot of people with the same idea, and companies catering to this idea. So last Thursday I treated myself to a new pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO.

Vibram FiveFingers KSO (My new Vibram FiveFingers KSO)

VFF are basically what you would get if you dipped your feet into molten rubber, minus, you know, the excrutiating pain, blistering skin and earache caused by your own frantic screaming. They’re a thin, highly elastic second skin for your feet, and not much else, really. Needless to say, I love them.

Being the serial enthusiast I am, I’ll try to keep a short-form diary of my semi-barefoot running progress and findings for my own sake.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Was paid by a client today, there’s money to be spent! Went to the sports store to see whether they have Vibrams in stock; the answer was a resounding yes. Tried them on and was sold. 10 minutes and €105 later I was the proud owner of a brown pair of Vibram FiveFingers KSO.

Wore them on my way home; not bad. A bit strange at first, but I quickly forgot about them. Went home, the weather’s nice, decided to go for a quick and easy run. Didn’t expect much, but was surprised.

Without trying to, I ran the first 5km straight, without much effort or being winded. Had to take a quick breather (while walking) because I was starting to feel light side stitches. Walked for ~250m, then took off again. When I got home and checked my time, I noticed I had beaten my usual time by roughly 5 minutes. And I was barely exhausted after those 7.4km.

The fun thing about barefoot running (or running with nothing but a thin layer of protection wrapped around your feet) is that your body instinctively knows what to do. You straighten up involuntarily, you (normally) don’t land on your heel but on your fore- or middlefoot, and you keep your feet right below your frame while running.

All you have to do is forgetting your old shod running style, really, and listen to your instincts.

Now, when your feet are cushioned (i.e., stuck in your average shock-absorbing running shoe), you tend to land heel-first while going for long strides. A long stride means more distance covered per step, right? True, but it’s rather unnatural, because if you’d do it without shoes, you’d end up in a world of pain as the body isn’t made for this kind of self-beating.

So, after the first few steps in my new VFF my body adjusted. I was going rather slow, well within my comfort zone, my back was straight as a candle, yet I didn’t fall into my usual thump-thump-thump rythm.

Awesome shoes! To be fair, when I got home I definitely felt my calves… they were more sore than usual. No, wrong… They were sore, and they usually aren’t. Then again, usually I am sweat-drenched and exhausted by the time I am back on my own doorstep — not this time, so I consider it a good deal. :)

When Dana came home, she wouldn’t stop laughing at them.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Holy shit, my calves. They feel like I’ve actually used them for the first time in my life.

Still, have a good feeling about the Vibrams; even about my calves. I was expecting sore muscles; after all, I’m completely changing the way I run. Obviously, I’ve done that.

Wore the VFF when getting out for lunch. Not much walking there, but I felt like giddy like a little boy about his new Spongebob shoes, and I never want to take them off again.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Took Dana to the sports store so she could see whether the Vibrams are something for her. Like me (even more like me) she could use stronger feet, and naturally I want to share this new sensation with her. She’s picked out a pair of grey KSO.

After we got home we went for a casual 5km walk on my running trail. She liked it, although her feet and legs were a bit sore. Don’t tell her, but I was expecting this. ;)

My calves are still hurting a bit.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Beautiful day, and despite the slightly sore muscles I decided to run. Not the best idea I’ve ever had, really. ;) Now they really hurt.

Well, suits me. I don’t blame the shoes, tho. I just didn’t listen to my body; the outcome should teach me.

Stupid me, always pushing too hard.

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Carlo Zottmann @czottmann