I know some people are curious about barefoot / minimalist running, and I thought I would share with you my recent experience.
My background: Last March I ran the Six Foot Track in Australia. It’s a pretty challenging 45 km trail run. I ran about 2000 km in the 9 months preceding the race, to train for it. After that I barely ran, although I started to dabble in some barefoot stuff that summer. Destroyed my calves on my first run, got blisters all over my feet, that type of stuff. Good times. Eventually built up to running 12 km barefoot, then kinda stopped running too much.
Enter 2011. A friend convinced me to train to qualify for Boston, and I met a girl who is excited to run, so I started running again. I started getting serious in the last week of January and ran 40 km that week. Since then I’ve not missed a single scheduled run, and am now up to 80 km a week, with a 33 km Saturday run and a 20 km Sunday run (scheduled for this weekend.)
So my brother sends me a pair of VFF (model: Sprints?) in the mail, for Christmas. I finally decide to go for a run last night, with the dog (who can’t run to save her life.) I had done 10 km earlier, and only needed to add 4 more to make my daily quota. So I throw on the VFF’s for the first time, and we’re off.
Immediately my form is identical to running completely barefoot. I was actually surprised at this. I thought it might be a bit more of a “hybrid” form, but I was wrong. I just couldn’t land on my heels, felt really nice, light and smooth. The fit? They felt quite uncomfortable, and I immediately wanted to take them off. The heel on them is a tiny bit loose, but the toes felt a bit short. I had some pain in the “palm” of my left foot, perhaps because my foot wasn’t able to expand (width-wise?) the entire way? In any case, they weren’t too bad, but they weren’t great. I didn’t say “wow omg I love these!” I said “ehh… I would rather go barefoot.” Plus, while I strive to rise above that, I felt like a total freak in them. I will admit they will need to broken in before I jump to conclusions. It was really nice to not have to worry about what I was running on, and for that alone they are worth it.
Anyway, the dog was being a bitch (haha, get it?) and she was lagging, so my pace was pretty slow. Despite that, wow, could I ever feel it. Immediately my calves were being “expressed” (how’s that for a nice word for it?) a lot more than normal. I was pitter-pattering along, paying the utmost attention to my calves. I even felt a bit of a twinge in one, at one point. Since I was terrified of ruining my long runs this weekend, I finally called it quits: after only 2.65 km!
Wow. I was shocked. I thought for sure I could bust out a 10 km run in them, given that I’m in reasonably good running shape right now?! Nope. Not even close.