If you haven't read Part I of this, you might want to go back one post. Here, I'll even save you the trouble of having to click around too much to get there. Just click here: Part I
I left off on my last post explaining what I had been learning about running barefoot as opposed to running with shoes. I tried to leave you guessing regarding what I was going to do with the information... but I'm sure you've figured it out. And if we're Facebook friends, you probably already know.
The more I read about barefoot running, the more I just wanted to get out there and try it. I have always enjoyed being barefoot and I love to feel the ground under my feet (unless I'm in my boys' bathroom... then I pretty much have to put on some of those biohazard footies prior to entry).
So the other day, I was a good cross-trainer and went on a bike ride. After that, I decided to go on very short, one-mile run. I headed out with the intention of taking my shoes off for the last couple blocks of the run... just to try it. The shoe part of the run was OK... there was some heel pain but that is "normal" for me. When I took my shoes off (looking around first to see if anyone was watching the crazy lady remove a perfectly good pair of shoes to go native) and kept going. It was weird at first. Then it was fun! Here's the amazing part: My heel wasn't hurting!
I definitely felt my muscles in my feet waking up and starting to gripe a bit. But it was that good kind of pain you get after you've lifted weights. I had read that barefoot running needs to be eased into slowly... and that is why. Muscles our feet haven't used much since childhood need to be built up again.
My first barefoot experience, though short, was really enjoyable! I know what you're thinking... "Wait a minute, this is the same person who enjoyed getting a needle shoved into the bottom of her foot." Let's just say that I would choose running on pavement, dirt, and seed pods over a cortisone shot any day of the week!
What about Broken Glass, Sharp Rocks, and Grounded Bumble Bees?
I'm not entirely fearless, so I started researching the various so-called barefoot running shoes. The shoe name that kept coming up was the Vibram Five Fingers. The name alone was enough to make me wonder if they were serious. Their appearance is even more awkward. The name kept coming up, however, in the online barefoot community as a decent foot protection option.
There are a few barefoot running shoes out there but I decided to give the Vibram Five Fingers a try. Fortunately, I had received some unexpected cash for Christmas so shopping I went. First, I tried shopping online but quickly learned that many places were cleaned out of the more popular sizes & colors because of Christmas and weren't expecting to get more in stock until mid-January at the earliest.
I knew the model I wanted to get (KSO). And I knew the color I didn't want to get (black). The black look way too much like gorilla feet for my taste. All the online retailers that had my size, only had it in black. So, I tried my luck at the local retailers listed on the Vibram website, not expecting good news. I called every store in a 30 mile radius (there were eight) and finally struck gold at the Birkenstock store in Encinitas, which is about 15 miles away from my house.
Not only did they have my size, they had it in a color other than black. Score! I asked the salesgirl on the phone to hold them for me, convinced my clean-cut, conservative husband that going to a Birkenstock store to buy shoes does not make you a hippie, and off we went.
Here they are, in all their crazy-looking glory:
Side note: Those who live in San Diego County might recognize this Encinitas hill... this is the killer hill right next to Moonlight Beach. We are going down. In our van. But not too long ago this was mile 17 of my running group's 22-mile long run before the marathon. And we had to go up. It was fun.
I also wore them geo-caching... one of my husband's favorite hobbies:
I haven't tried running in them yet... the instructions are very clear that you need to gradually build up feet strength before going too far in them. I hope to give them a short run around the neighborhood after I get some laundry done... in other words, sometime much later this afternoon.
So, am I giving up on running shoes? Am I going to become one of those runners who believe there is only one way to run? Will I start eating only fruits and berries and refuse to wear deodorant? The answer to all of the above is NO.
Like everything else in life, there needs to be balance when it comes to running. To jump from one extreme to another in anything is not my style. I like shoes. And I LOVE socks. Wouldn't it be ideal to be able to run properly no matter what is on- or under- you feet?
Will running barefoot/gorilla-footed solve my injury issues? I don't know. I hope so. If I continue getting injured doing what I have grown to love, I'm going to have to try something else. If that involves spending $400 for podiatrist-prescribed custom orthotics, I'll be willing to try that too.
For now, I'm trying this whole barefoot/almost-barefoot thing. Because it makes sense. For now, I'm going to try out alternative running techniques (like Chi Running). Because I am still a rookie.
You can bet I'll let you know how it goes!!
I'm on a Winning Streak!
By the way... I'm a WINNER!! I won some Barney Butter from the beautiful, fun, kindergarten-teaching blogger Kelly at She Wears a Red Sox Cap. I can't wait to try it! YUM!