Monday, March 22, 2010

Barefoot Running: Easy Does It

This post was suggested by my friend Carrie, who is new to barefoot running and just got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers. Her running form is already pretty darned good and she's been running in the Nike Frees, but even so a 3-miler in the Fiverfingers left her with some sore calves and a bit of soreness in the feet. The thing is, when you run barefoot or in barefoot-style shoes, your feet act differently than they do in even the most "free" of full-coverage shoes. One thing I've noticed about running barefoot is that my toes splay out and actually grip and push off of the ground individually. Really, this is kind of cool, and the sort of thing that tells me that what my foot does in a shoe is radically different than what it does without them.

When I first started doing some barefoot running and then using the Fivefingers, I took it extremely easy. I would take my regular shoes along and run barefoot in the grass for short times and then switch back to wearing shoes. Eventually I could run longer and longer barefoot and spent less time in the shoes. When I got the Fivefingers and transitioned to running on harder surfaces, I again took it very easy and kept the distances short at first, working up to longer and longer runs. Now I can do 9 - 10 miles in the Fivefingers and am hopeful that eventually I can even do marathon or ultra distance runs in them. I've actually gotten to the point where I hate running in my regular running shoes anymore, I can feel how they make my running style less efficient.

Here's a good article with some guidelines to easing into barefoot running, from the Living Barefoot site.

1 comment:

Jon Gilchrist said...

I noticed that about my toes as well, when I run in my VFFs. It feels pretty awesome. I also feel like I still have the shoes on for hours AFTER I've taken them off. Now..I'm not up to 8 or 9...but I'm doin 3 in 'em. LOVE THOSE SHOES..glad I made the switch....