Saturday, April 30, 2011

Vibram Five Fingers/ Minimalist Running

Going for a night-time run at the Iwo Jima Memorial

Anyone who knew me growing up can confirm the fact I loathe running. Just ask my sister. While she was out running with the family dog, I would be covered in mud catching minnows and crawfish in the backyard creek. I ran only to participate in the normal kid stuff that requires running, such as chasing the ice cream truck or to avoid being tagged out in the neighborhood kickball game.

People grow up and change. I went through a lot of changes and developed a lot of new skills, but running was not one of them. Yet, this morning I woke up early looking forward to a run. What happened?

I credit Vibram Five Fingers shoes for allowing me to fall in love with running... the natural “barefoot” way.  Running shoes encase your foot with a cushioned, elevated heel. As a result, runners are notorious for developing injuries due to constant repetition of heel-strikes, which shocks the sensitive knee and hip joints.  God designed our bodies with incredible attention to detail. All the technology we need to run efficiently is already there! When freed from shoes our feet are natural shock absorbers if we run with the front of feet instead, rolling from the forefoot through the arch. Vibram Five Fingers shoes are basically a rubber sole for your foot. The individual toes allow your toes to spread out, and the sole provides protection from broken glass, etc.

Minimalist running does not happen overnight. I had to break the “two week barrier” of wanting to quit because it hurt... I stubbed my toe... I’m tired....I hate running.... 

Soon enough, I found myself wanting to run with a new-found energy I did not have before!

Tips I learned the hard way:

  • Excellent website from Harvard explaining how to run barefoot, with videos

  • Do NOT overdo it initially. Allow your feet a break-in period. I was overly excited the day I bought my FiveFingers and went for a long run. I walked in pain for at least a week after that. Ease yourself into minimalist running with just a little bit each time.  

  • Allow yourself at least 2 weeks for the break-in period. Do not run consecutive days when starting out.

  • Listen to your body. Some say “No Pain, No Gain”. I disagree. If you’re in pain, back-off some and slow down. Let your body readjust and heal.
  • Stretch stretch stretch those calves and feet!!!! And stretch some more! You’re using muscles that have not been fully developed.

Minimalist/ barefoot running is not for everyone. Here are some additional resources for you to check out to figure out if minimalist and/or barefoot running is for you:

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