Thursday, 25th April, 2013

Barefoot(ish) running

Since Fall 2012, I have been collecting minimalistic running shoes in the hope of starting to evolve a more naturalistic running style. The first pair I bought was the EVO I from Vivobarefoot (on the left in the image below), which I initially used at gym and for walking. Unfortunately, they seem to be a bad match for my feet: the toebox feels too large and the edge of the shoe above the heel irritates my skin. The next pair was the Vibram Fivefingers Bikila LS (on the right), which I bought in Finland a couple of months ago. The latest addition is the Merrell Vapor Glove (I have the green version; in the middle). Unfortunately, I didn't dare to really run in any of these before the Vienna City Marathon was done, except for a couple of really short runs (none of them were longer than 3km). I also recently ordered Xero Shoes both for myself and our daughter. I'm eagerly awaiting their arrival within a week or two :)

Minimalistic shoe collection
Minimalistic shoe collection

Since the marathon on the 14th, I have been conditioning myself to the new stride involving a shorter step and a more pronounced forefoot strike. So far, I have finished four runs in about a week (5.71km, 5.32km, 5.19km and 9.26km). Initially, I felt some soreness in calfs and shins, but it has more or less disappeared already. Because of this, I don't think I have started too fast, although many people suggest an even lighter transition period.

On the one hand, the most interesting change in running so far has been the new springiness of legs with the shorter forefoot strike. It feels almost as if running on actual springs, which I really enjoy (my heels don't typically touch the ground at all while running with the new form). On the other hand, the strangest thing is the soreness of my toes, which started a day after the last run (the longest one so far). Honestly, I don't know whether it is due to running or not, but I have never felt anything like it, and therefore I'm inclined to attribute it to the forefoot strike. Now three days after the run (yes, I have had two rest days from running already) the toes feel already mostly ok.

After my transitioning period is over with the Fivefingers, I'm planning to try some actual barefoot running, as well as the rest of my collection. Or... maybe I should already go for the next run with the Merrells? In any case, looking at the great weather outside (it's sunny and about 25°C), and taking into account that our gym was closed today for no apparent reason, I think I will take a long lunch break and go for a run before continuing to work at home.

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