|Search Cool Running Community|
I started running in my socks on a track to start strengthening my feet/calfs, then started in huaraches (invisibleshoe.com) which were great. Improved strength came quickly after 4-5 runs and trackwork.(I should warn that if you want to start running minimal, start each run in sneakers to warm up your feat or start to condition your feat by running on a treadmill in socks since this is a very forgiving/sprung surface. Graduate to a rubber track in socks/huaraches or Vibram 5-fingers). I then bought Vibram 5-fingers for more protection/warmth. unfortunately I got so excited I ran off half-cocked on a "trail" run which was more of a gravel road. I bruised a bone in my forefoot (or as my wife would say, you got yourself a sore fetlock). This I ice regularly but has lingered for a few weeks. Some of my best workouts are barefoot on the astroturf on the inside of a track. My 5k times have started to drop and I hit a PR in the 2.5 m at the age of 50 (last week). I do have some soreness in my forefoot unrelated to the bruise and my calfs, being much more engaged, have had muscle soreness. Otherwise, I have found incredible rejuvination and inspiration from minimal running. I am now training in cross-country flats and have trouble wearing big wedge shaped sneakers. Thoughts?
That sounds pretty typical, including sore calves, even to hurting your foot on a, shall we say, "less appropriate", surface. I do a small percentage (10%) of my running barefoot for the reasons you cited. I haven't convinced myself that VFFs would be worth the investment for me. I may at some point to minimize the "ouch, you really shouldn't have stepped on that" feeling. My PRs are 15 years behind me (I'm 62) so I don't expect any startling improvement there.
I do have to wonder why you, like so many others, seem to feel obligated to say things like "big wedge shaped sneakers" (or "two inch heels" as another runner said). Simply saying "traditional running shoes" makes the point without getting anybody's hackles up.
There are a lot of forums that discuss the benefits of minimalist running. So much that I'm almost convinced and really considering a switch, gradually of course...
ActiveWatches.com - The Place for Sports Watches
While I'm not a full time barefooter and I don't have a goal to be, I do believe in it and minimalist running. I have very flat feet and I've run in motion control shoes and rigid orthotics for years. I'm now out of those (both) completely and running in very unstructured thin-soled shoes. I occasionally barefoot for strengthening as well as for giving me the fantastic tactile feedback barefooting does - to see if I'm staying with the form I want to.
From just watching the forums I'd say be even extra cautious using VFFs if you haven't done any barefooting. (I'm only relating what I've read - I've never tried VFFs.) Some say you should do some barefooting PRIOR to going with VFFs. My sense is that the VFFs can give you a false sense of security. For example, you may be pushing off more than you realize and, if you do that too long, that can cause issues. Barefooting will give you that immediate feedback so you can catch that issue if you have it. I know in my thin-soled shoes I can think I'm not pushing off but, when I take them off and go barefoot, I can feel the pushoff like crazy.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
It's interesting that those I know who have run barefoot, then started using VFFs, had more calf soreness with the VFFs. A friend had done some barefoot, up to about 10 miles, with no problems. She bought VFFs, wore them walking around the house the first day, and had sore calves the next day.
Like Jim, I am interested in the minimal approach, but am trying to make a gradual transition. I just changed from a relatively low-heeled neutral shoe to an even flatter one (Saucony Kinvara, along the lines of a Nike Free). It's certainly not the most minimal thing out there, and I doubt I'll ever go all the way to barefoot running or even VFFs. The latter are too pricey an experiment, like Len said -- and I think they make people look like they forgot their gorilla costume at home.
Does anyone remember the Dr. Scholl's ads from the 1970's with people walking on the beach, showing how your heel makes a deeper imprint in sand than your forefoot? They were marketing sandals in which the heel was the lowest part of the shoe. The ads proclaimed it was more natural (I guess if you spend all your time walking in sand!) but apparently they were a flop. I can only imagine how sore people's calves were and how many returns were made to stores! I'm waiting, bemused, for the day when running shoes are marketed this way.
I officially start my minimalist "experiment" tomorrow. I just purchased a pair of Five Finger KSO's and I've worn them for the past 3 days for about 5 hours at a time. I have walked and only lightly jogged for a few strides in them, but I have not had any soreness yet. Before the switch, I was wearing New Balance 758's and running between 9 and 15 miles a week. What prompted my switch was that in my years of running and running competitively, I have always understood and seen the benefits of running barefoot. My ultimate goal in going "minimal" is that I will be able to run 10K regularly in shoes like VFFs.
Good luck and lets have fun running "bare"!
"WITHOUT STRUGGLE, THERE WOULD BE NO PROGRESS" - Frederick Douglass
"TOUGH TIMES NEVER LAST, TOUGH PEOPLE DO!"
I own a pair of VFF Sprints and have never run in them. I wore them hiking for about an hour last summer and I occasionally wear them for quick errands. They're fun, but I'm not going to risk my running with injury for the increased strength benefit. You can benefit a lot from barefooting by doing it a small percentage of the time - Len, you have the right idea. I've talked before about how minimalism is a tool (http://bit.ly/bhlQY7), not something to strive for in itself. If you're working toward running barefoot all the time, then that's your goal, as opposed to running a PR in an upcoming race.
My suggestion is to keep your barefoot miles where they are right now and increase the time spent in more traditional running shoes. With more volume you'll become a better runner.
Cheers, - Fitz.
Anybody remember "Earth Shoes"? They were similar to the sandals dfitz* mentioned, but more like regular shoes. The heel was actually lower than the forefoot.
I'll be interested to hear what you think of the Kinvara. Something like that or the Nike Free is more the direction I think I'm heading.
There's also supposed to be a new VFF shoe that has the external appearance of a regular running shoe, except, of course, the individual toes. At a quick glance, you would think it's a regular running shoe with no sole.
I bought a pair of VFF about 4 months ago and tried to work my way into running in them. I went way to fast and way to hard and developed a bad case of PF that still gives me some grief! I have an old Achilles injury that always flares when I'm putting in high miles and what I found was by doing the minimalist approach (VFF) really helped loosen and strengthened my Achilles and my feet in general. What I've done since my first overzealous VFF running experiment is I walk 2-3 miles a day in the VFF to keep my Achilles loose and do all my running in my running shoes. Once I've overcome my PF totally I may try to go back to a small amount of easy running in the VFF. I like Len's approach, 10%. I would really warn people to use caution getting started to quickly with minimalist running though. PF really stinks!!
Quote from Bob Moawad " You can't make footprints in the sands of time if you are sitting on your butt. And who wants to make buttprints in the sands of time"
2008 - Grandma's marathon - 4:51 2011 - Get in Gear 1/2 marathon - 1:46
2009 - Get in Gear 1/2 marathon - 1:49 2011 - Green Bay marathon - 3:51
2009 - Grandma's marathon - 4:13 2011 - Grandma's marathon - 3:45
2009 - Twin Cities marathon - 4:02 2011 - Minneapolis Pride 5k - 21:31
2010 - Grandma's marathon - 3:58 ya hoo!
2010 - Twin Cities marathhon - 3:55
Len, LOL, you caught me being a smug minimalist with my "big wedge-shaped sneakers" comment. Thanks for keeping the humility in the discussion. I also liked the comment about not feeling the push-off in VFFs as well as barefoot. I guess I was trying to have it both ways, no shoes and with the protection of shoes. Maybe I should just consider my VFFs my track spikes and view the minimalist running as part of the overall training, sort of a cross-training. I am light weight and only 5'7" so running in VFFs may be suited more for my body type than larger or heavier runners.