Thursday, April 15, 2010


Another thing I’ve been doing for the past few weeks is getting into “barefoot” running. For me, that hasn't exactly meant totally barefoot, but it has meant running in a less structured shoe. There are a few models out there right now, and most shoe brands have something they are either working on or are already being sold.

The barefoot running idea started for me when we were in Dominican Republic and were able to run on the beach. I didn’t even think of going barefoot, but Don said why not? However, klutz that I am, that idea only lasted a couple of days for me. Somehow, I did something to my foot that reminded me of about ½ turn less than a full sprain. The pain was mostly on the top of the foot near the ankle, but really no swelling or bruising, just soreness and later stiffness. Not having shoes on when this happened, however, I feel was less traumatic than having shoes on, since I have sprained my ankle or turned it pretty hard enough times that I know how it feels. And the fact that I can’t recall at all when it happened makes me think I was lucky this time.

You may be thinking too that it wasn’t very smart to be going barefoot, and maybe for me this is partially true, since I rarely, if ever, go barefoot, making my feet fairly sensitive to anything other than shoes or if with running shoes something with custom made insoles besides.

But that really was the only problem I encountered and as I said it appears the injury was much less traumatic than had I been wearing shoes.

When we got back from the trip, wearing shoes was really weird again. And Don had a hard time readjusting, since for the past couple of years he has had a lot of problems with Achilles since rupturing the tendon, and has been unable to run much, if at all most of the time. However, running barefoot for him posed absolutely no problem whatsoever and in fact he progressed quite rapidly over the week we did it, pulling away from me with no effort. (That more than likely was due to my foot stiffness and inability to push off, so that's my excuse.)

Of course that meant he would go right out and buy Vibrams because that’s how he is. They are weird looking to be sure, but he loves them. I decided after a week or so that I really needed to get something lighter and maybe less structured with the hope that my ankle/foot would clear up faster, since even walking with my regular running shoes was uncomfortable. The shoes felt restrictive, that’s about the only way to describe them, after running barefoot for almost a week.

There was also another new shoe on the market, the Nike Free 5.0, which after comparing both the Vibram and the Nike Free, I chose the Nike Free.

And free it is. Free from the heaviness and restrictiveness of regular running shoes. They are made to resemble almost barefoot running, definitely a step up from racing flats, yet lightweight and very comfortable. They do not accommodate my custom orthotics, but that would probably be contrary to the barefoot feeling if I continued to load these shoes up with all the paraphernalia I have been using.

And the barefoot running craze is here for now at least. If you haven’t read the pros and cons on this idea, here is a link so you can get more information and form your own conclusions.

Obviously, these shoes are not intended for running marathons, or any long distances in fact, unless you really have adjusted to them for a long time, and even then I can’t make a recommendation. What I do know is that for the distances I have been forced to run lately because of the foot problem (which is almost healed up by the way), they are quite adequate and I’m sure being able to do some running has been better than none, and doing the PACE workouts has not required more than 30-35 min. of running at any one time either. How they feel are light and as comfortable as a pair of slippers. And I can finally wear some of my cute "Sock Guy" socks I have either bought or gotten from races that I haven't been able to wear with my regular shoes and orthotics because they were too thin.

And the bright pink is an attention getter. I could almost swear they glowed in the dark.


Lisa said...

The whole barefoot running thing is very interesting. I've read about how it's supposed to be more natural and I've even observed first hand a pair of barefoot runners WINNING a local marathon (1st & 2nd place) over their shoed competitors. But I'm not sure I'm brave enough to change anything now that I finally have been running without knee pain. I'm very interested, however, in your opinion as you get more miles in these.

Just_because_today said...

they sure look cute.
I am afraid to try any form of barefoot running. I seldom walk barefoot and feel that with my overpronation it might not be wise...but the experts say otherwise, right?
Those VFF look like alien feet, dont they?

Sunshine said...

I like my Nike Free shoes for errands and around the house.
Haven't run any races in them yet. You are encouraging.

Just_because_today said...

What??? no Wordless Wednesday???

ShirleyPerly said...

There are many who seem to like these types of shoes. I think whatever works is the way to go. I'm thrilled to hear Don is back to running!!