Short, slow mostly uphill run
Dilly Dally Strides
Perhaps a little yoga tonight before bed….
It’s a time of transitions – in the marathon doldrums – that taper period, I’m getting the littles registered for kindergarten (WHAT?!?! No seriously, they’re still 3 aren’t they?), lots of personal transitions, etc. Basically lots of shifting.
Recently I’ve seen a lot of questions/comments about minimalist running in the blogosphere.
So I figured I’d take a moment (or a few, I’ve never been short on words), to talk about my transition to minimal shoes 15 months ago.
Back story: I struggled with ITB for about 3 years. Almost every time I ran I got to mile 1-2 and my knee would incredibly painful. I kept my running to a minimum (*gasp* pick yourself up off the floor).
I finally went to the PT who identified the issue, gots my gait analyzed and hit the interwebs (the source of all accurate information), and somehow decided to try the minimalist shoe.
Slightly frightened, I went to go try on the Vibram 5 Fingers. Years of dancing and a funky
shaped toe left it impossible to fit into a pair and the helpful associate told me New Balance had a line coming out that had a regular shoe, but Vibram technology, so I tried it.
Here’s the challenge. YOU HAVE TO EASE INTO THEM.
To most runners this means go from 0-20% and it feels good, you should just jump to 100% approximately five seconds later. I went slowly and steadily for the first month, then dove in.
This 10% business is difficult. What was I supposed to do, run half a mile carrying my shoes, then change on the side of the trail? Uh…no. So I stuck with the dreadmill for about 5-6 weeks to ease my way in.
Month 1 & 2:
LOVED the lightness, LOATHED the tightness.
I felt so liberated and *mostly* well-behaved following the 10% interval regimen. The transition to the minimal shoe forces you to have a mid-foot strike. If you don’t, your calves will hate you. Every half mile I was heel striking left me waddling like a back up singer from Happy Feet for a day or two. So I learned to get on the treadmill in front of the mirror and run like a narcissistic masochist watching my every strike. I also discovered new muscles in my feet I never knew existed which could be achy at times.
During this time, a new relationship in my life blossomed. My Stick and I got incredibly close. I literally kept it next to my bed, under my desk, in my car…anywhere. And instead of singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to my kids, it was more “Roll, Roll, Roll My Calves” for a good month.
Month 3 & 4:
TRANSITION complete, SKINNY JEAN feat
By this point in time, my Stick was getting a little lonely. It no longer had a place right in my bed, but was only used when I was actually running, not several times a day. One of the biggest surprises came by the end of month 4 was when I slipped into my skinny jeans and could hardly slide them over my legs. I did a quick measurement – turns out my calves grew TWO INCHES! Straight up muscle – CA-RAY-ZEE.
My Stick got lonely as we spent less and less time together. We got back to our normal date routine of before and after runs. I think it’s still resentful.
Things I love about minimalist running:
Stride. My stride has to be super in-check and I know immediately when I start slacking because my muscles let me know immediately.
Hips & Knees. Way less issues with ITB & general soreness in my knees, back, shins, etc.
Rain Runs. My NB Minimus Street Runners are all meshy and wonderful and the water runs out. I ran the Pasadena half last May and everyone complained about how heavy their shoes were and the water seeped right out of mine.
Things I don’t love so much:
Tight Calves. ‘Nuff said.
Tendonitis. Apparently this isn’t uncommon with the transition and I’ve battled tendonitis in my feet since I started transitioning. This probably stems from the tight calves. When I keep it all in check, it doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Word’s out on the street as to whether or not people like their minimal shoes, but I’m a lover. This runner went from barely making it 1.5 miles to finishing her marathon training in 14 months. I’ll take it!