Friday, March 25, 2011

My First VFFs

The book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall inspired me to run barefoot like the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico's Copper Canyon. They are natural runners and learn to love running at a very early age by playing running games in the mountains. I read up on how runners in our more modern concrete, car-filled society are starting to find ways to run barefoot.
I considered the method of finding a golf course or park and running on the grass with no shoes. It sounds kind of enticing on a hot, sunny day. But then, how many days in the Emerald City (it’s green here for a reason) are going to be hot and sunny? Not nearly enough for this girl, and running in the cold, wet, muddy grass in bare feet isn't going to motivate me.
I then came across the Nike Free running shoes, and a couple of friends vouched that they liked theirs. I ran in Nike Free's for a year, and I think it was a good transition to prepare for even more minimalist shoes. Now I’m ready to go to the next level.
Enter…Vibram Five Fingers. I have the VFF Bikila running shoe in white/gray/green. They were named after Abebe Bikila (which is another good book, Barefoot Runner: The Life of Marathon Champion Abebe Bikila). So now I have a plan...
My Goal
To run the Seattle Rock n Roll Half Marathon in my Vibram Five Fingers and ultimately to run exclusively barefoot-style.
What I have going for me:
·   I’ve been a runner for more than 15 years
·   I’ve completed more than 10 half marathons and 1 full marathon
·   I’m low-to-average weight so fairly light build
·   I love the outdoors and nature and feeling like I’m connected to the Earth (which you definitely feel more with barefoot shoes than with thick-soled shoes)
·   I’ve always loved going barefoot, and I still go barefoot in the house or just socks
What I have going against me:
·   I love wearing cute high-heeled shoes and don’t plan to stop
·   I had 2 bunion surgeries on my right foot many years ago and still have a screw in my foot
 My Progress So Far
I ran on Wednesday, March 23rd, in my VFFs and completed 3 miles. You're supposed to work up to running in VFFs VERY slowly, which I probably didn't do. My feet were a little sore while I was running because of the hard surfaces (concrete and asphalt), but they were fine once I stopped running. My calves, however, were very tight afterwards. I knew this would happen since I've read other blogs and reviews on getting used to running barefoot, so it was no surprise.

I ran today, 2 days later, and completed 4 miles. My calves were still sore from Wednesday, but I decided to give my VFFs another go since it was a sunny day. I debated about wearing my Nike Free's to give my calves a rest, but then the nice weather lulled me into putting on my lightweight barefoot-like VFFs. I had a great run - sunshine, 60 degrees, feeling good. But now my calves REALLY hurt. I'm trying not to walk funny, but I can only ignore the tightness in my calves so much.

Tomorrow I'm running 5 miles, and I am going to give my calves a break with my good ole Asics. I'll be back to running in my VFFs next week.

Keep on Running!

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