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  • Andrej Kyselica 6:55 pm on March 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: barefoot   

    Going Barefoot: Week 1 Report 

    Today ends the first week of my barefoot running experiment so I’m recording my progress and thought someone else might benefit from my experience. My previous post covered off on my motivations and goals for doing this.

    My Vibram Five Fingers KSOs (Keep Stuff Outs) came in last Friday. I was concerned about the fit but they fit perfectly. I started out slowly by just wearing them around on errands over the weekend.

    Here’s a summary of the week:

    Day Activities Observations
    Sat 3/6 errands (Drew’s basketball game, etc.) It was a little cool in the morning but it wasn’t really a problem because I didn’t spend much time outside; feet felt good; got a curious look or two
    Sun 3/7 Great Wolf Lodge trip with the kids It was handy to use the same shoes outside, indoors and by the pool; once inside by the pool, I took the VFFs off; everyone’s barefoot at the pool
    Mon 3/8 weight workout; outdoor run The Monday weight workout was an opportunity to move around and use different positions; the VFFs are really good for weight training—stable, comfortable
    The great weather gave me a perfect opportunity to get a few miles in outside. I ran about 1.4 miles with the VFFs and switched to shoes for another 3.5 miles (felt fine but I’m starting slow)
    Tue 3/9 strength class Much like weight work, the VFFs were well suited for the strength class. We didn’t use fitness balls in this class, but I imagine the VFFs would be good for stabilizing
    Wed 3/10 weight workout uneventful, still good
    Thu 3/11 cardio/strength class, treadmill run The CRT (cardio resistance training) class at Lifetime is a great high-intensity workout: weights, pushups, jumping, sprinting, stairs (lost count of how many sets). it’s a high impact workout and I babied my feet a little bit this first time to avoid getting injured. I definitely noticed more burn in my lower legs than normal so that’s a good sign.
    After CRT, I tacked on a quick 1 mile run on the treadmill in the VFFs. I took a slow pace at 7.1mph and my legs felt fine, but the treadmill feel strange to run on—I could feel the thin belt sliding under my feet. Running outdoors feels a lot better than on the treadmill now.
    Fri 3/12 weights
    jump rope
    another good weight workout wearing the VFFs.. no problem there, definitely enjoying the feel of them when lifting
    I wanted to give my legs another workout before the weekend so I jumped rope in the VFFs for 5 minutes to build foot and calf strength; I thought this would get painful and I planned to only go for 2 minutes, but it felt so good I kept adding minutes until I hit 5 and decided not to push my luck

    (I did the spinning classes M/W/F but I wear cycling shoes in those so I didn’t list them here)

    A few general observations:

    • After running barefoot for just over a mile, I had changed my running style significantly: I eliminated my heel strike (that hurts barefoot!), took smaller steps and kept a straighter posture. When I switched back to shoes to finish my run, I stuck with that style and think I ran significantly better that way in shoes as well.
    • On the outdoor run, the uphills were the easiest to adapt to and downhills the hardest. My old way would be to pound down the hill landing on my heels but this doesn’t work barefoot so I’m relearning how to descend with speed. This will just take some time.
    • I can feel my feet getting stronger and more flexible. Believe it or not, I discovered that the toes actually serve a purpose other than decoration. This was particularly noticeable while jumping rope.
    • Looking into the whole barefoot thing, I kept seeing people talking about how much fun the barefoot thing was. To be honest, it seemed a little silly to me. A week in, though, I’m starting to understand it, but I’m not sure I can explain it.

    Next week I’ll continue on the same track, bumping barefoot miles up to somewhere south of 2. I’ll try to work some more jump rope in because that seems to really work the feet and lower legs.

    • teammayham 2:13 am on August 21, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Just happened along this post as a related suggestion off of my own. I was wondering, how do you not have any joint pain? I demoed just a few drills barefoot at a pole vault camp I was coaching and my knees were killing me only a few hours later. (Granted, I do have bad knees.) Do you have any trouble with this?
      -Annie, Team Mayham

      • Andrej Kyselica 9:01 pm on August 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        @Annie.. I’m about 5 months into the barefoot running thing. I haven’t had any joint trouble. I haven’t had knee trouble in the past but I have had foot problems in prior years when trying to ramp my mileage past 5-7 consistently. I’m comfortably running 7 miles 2-3 times a week in my Vibram VFFs. I map bump up to hit a half marathon later this year so that will match my personal longest run.

        I don’t like to run on back-to-back days and mix up the workouts with cycling and strength work. That seems to help.

    • Andrej Kyselica 9:04 pm on August 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I never really answered your question.. here’s what worked for me: ramp up distance and duration slowly and follow good form. Good form is a straight back, level head, loose ankles, quick strides, footstrike directly below body, push off the back and high foot kicks/knees taking the heel towards the rear.

  • Andrej Kyselica 9:42 pm on March 2, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: barefoot   

    Are my shoes actually causing me more foot problems than they’re preventing? 

    I have a love/hate relationship with running. Running energizes me and really clears my head. But running has also caused me serious foot problems to the point where I could barely walk. When I go beyond 5-6 miles, I start getting stress injuries in my feet. When I did finally complete a half marathon in 2005, I could barely walk for a week afterwards and it pretty much ended my running season that year. When I asked my doctor for advice, he suggested good running shoes and scaling back my miles. Even after trying several good sets of running shoes, the 5-6 mile limit remains—going beyond that still causes me pain, even if I ramp up slowly.

    So for the last couple of years, I just accepted that I have bad feet and that 6k runs are my limit. That’s a bummer because I only start to enjoy running after the first couple of miles are out of the way.

    Recently listening to the audio edition of “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall (an excellent book on all accounts), I started thinking again about barefoot running which I started to look into last year but too late in the season to do much with.

    The general idea behind barefoot running is that thick padded shoes lead to injury because they let us run in unnatural ways, while not letting our feet build the strength to act like the sophisticated shock absorbers they evolved to be. There’s much more to the argument but there’s no point in rehashing what others have covered in great detail.

    I have nothing to lose so I’m going to give this a shot. I’ll use a mix of actual barefoot running outside, combined with Vibram FiveFingers for treadmill and messy outdoor situations. My current running style won’t work barefoot (heel strike is painful without shoes), so I’ll have to change that. I have a short triathlon in April but I’m not sure if I’ll be ready to cut over by then or not.

    I’ll keep a journal here through this experiment. My goal is to break through the 5-6 mile barrier without injuries.

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