Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Me and my toe shoes

A weekend so nice I had to run it twice.... I did my first back-to-back run in a while this past weekend when I headed out Sunday for a short 30-minute jaunt through High Cliff State Park again. I guess I just didn't get enough the day before, but with weather in the low 80s (in October!), you just have to take advantage, I guess.

My Vibram Bikila LS "toe shoes"
Unlike Saturday where I did a modest run/walk, Sunday I just opted to run the Red Bird Trail with no stops. I wore my toe shoes, as well. Although I have flirted with barefoot running a bit this past year, with so many race commitments on the calendar, I never did fully swing over to the dark side. The Vibrams are a nice happy medium. And, while I realize that true barefoot aficionados don't recommend running in them until you learn proper form, I have found that if I stick to 3-4 miles every now and again (and I have had some form training), I don't walk away from the run any the worse for wear - at least not yet.

So, why wear them at all? Well, basically, I like the way they feel. They are light on my feet; I don't feel like I have big clunky, clodhoppers on. And, I get to wiggle my toes around. Seriously, though, they are pretty comfortable and I find I can play around with my form more easily while wearing them. I'll switch from my mid-foot plod - which is quite possible in the Vibrams, by the way - to a more buoyant feeling forefoot step when the need arises, i.e., when dancing around roots and rocks.

Will I ever switch to purely barefoot running? I don't know. While I have simply played around with the idea a bit, a good friend of mine has embraced it whole-heartedly. Not having any luck with traditional treatment methods for a nagging foot/tendon problem, she turned to barefoot running this past summer with the hopes that it would allow her to get back into running. It has been a slow road back, but now she is up to one and a half miles running barefoot.

Surprisingly, or not so much, barefoot running has proven to be the thing she needs NOT to aggravate her injury. She is the first to say, though, that going from shod to unshod is a steep learning curve and it has taken her considerable time to build up to the point she is at now. Without serious motivation to relearn everything from scratch - essentially what she has done - I don't know if I would have the patience to do it. I really give her a lot of credit for taking this on.

Random tree shot off Red Bird Trail
In the meantime, or until that point when I am injured badly enough to want to try it (not to be discounted), I will stick to the Vibrams and occasional sessions of barefoot running. I know a lot of elite athletes and teams incorporate barefoot running into their training as a means to strengthen their feet and improve their form. If it's good enough for them, it's certainly good enough for me. And, besides, who doesn't like that feeling of being a kid again, running around the neighborhood in barefeet enjoying the summer-like days?


  1. So did you see the news article about the woman who gave birth after completing her marathon?

  2. Yes, she rocks! Although I must say I was happy I beat her time. Let it not be said that I cannot outrun a 38-week pregnant woman. Seriously, though, why not? Pregnant women are not the fragile creatures some make them out to be. :)