Thursday, April 19, 2012

Running in Vibrams

Okay, I'll admit, it I got caught up in the 'fad'.

As many of you know, Bonnie did a guest blog where she talked about minimalist running. Some of you told me that you tried it and will never go back. Other shared they were too afraid to try something new when what they were doing was working fine.

But I couldn't help myself. The salesman at REI (Rick) had jumped on the minimalist bandwagon 2 years ago and was totally immersed in the new culture. By the time he finished all the good things he could say about it, I felt bad that I just bought one pair!

So I've been wearing them mostly for my walks and around the house. Every day at least four hours. But Monday, I did something crazy.

I have a 3.5 miler that I do on my 'easy days'. I had done a 2.5 mile walk in the Vibrams on Sunday and on Monday, threw caution to the wind.

[TIME FOR DISCLAIMER: Do Not Attempt The Following Without Proper Guidance From A Professional]

I did my 3.5 Miler in Vibrams. I know, I know, I'm supposed to 'ease' into them. 200 feet on soft grass - Day One, 400 feet on soft grass - Day Two, etc. But I'm old school, in for a penny, in for a pound.

So you're probably wondering how it went. I can report that I actually did my 3.5 miler 50 seconds faster per mile than I normally did. How do I know what normal is? I did it by heart beats per minute. So I just kept it at the same BPM that I run my easy days at (>150 BPM). At first, it was hard picking up the rhythm to run at. The goal, I believe, in this type of running is to NOT heel strike, or as little as possible. So you are landing mid-foot, and for me, that meant on the outside of the mid-foot and slightly rolling in or pronating, and then slightly pushing off the ball of foot and repeating. The reason I believe I was faster than normal is because you do not have wasted movement and are a more efficient runner. It provides a slight bounce to you step if you are not using the heel of your foot, that, when you think of it, is really a break for your movement. All-in-all, a very good experience.

The day after (Tuesday) that's another story. My calves and Achilles were sore. They barked when I went up and down steps. And trying to do a sub 6:00 3/4 mile during my speed workout on Tuesday was something that I had to shake out of my leg. I was able to complete my speed workout but I was still feeling the calves and Achilles from Monday.

Wednesday: I am walking around with the Vibrams, but I did today's easy run in cushioned shoes. I'm not giving up on the Vibrams and I'll tell you why. I believe that they are making my feet and legs stronger. I'm noticing the past two weeks that just wearing them around at non-running events - walking, etc., they force you more toward the ball of your foot. It's not like you can't stand in them, that position is fine, it's when you walk or jog, you find yourself getting used to using more of your mid-foot, which I believe is a good thing.

I think I'm sold on them. If for nothing else, to replace my sandals, Crocs, and old shoes around the house. They give you a better feel of the surface that your feet on walking on.

I'm not saying that I will be running a marathon with them. If you gathered anything from my experience, it would be to take it easier than I did in making the adjustment. But there's more here that I want to experiment with. If my calf muscles continue to recover like they are doing so far, and my theory of them making my feet and legs stronger, I will take this to the next level. At least Monday proved I can do a 5K in them.

For anyone interested in trying them, they are available via Amazon at:

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