Saturday, February 27, 2010

Running: How I Hate You...or Do I?

Four years ago I couldn't take a nice stroll around the block without my feet hurting.  It took a while but as I got out more and more, my feet could handle longer distances.  Before I knew it, I actually ran a full mile without stopping.  What a day that was.  My first 5K run was an exciting morning.  All those people going at the same time.  It certainly pushes you harder.  All those feelings were relatively short lived.

About a year after the 5K, I quickly lost interest in running.  Through pain and repetition, I started to grow weary.  It got to the point where I would loath going for a run.  Shit, I still do.  Just the thought of it is enough to send me to the couch with a bag of chocolate covered pretzels.  Fortunately, I was able to explore other alternatives that allowed me to keep up on exercise, else things would have surely got poorly in the weight loss department.

The last couple years, like jilted lovers, running and I have grown farther and farther apart.  It's the end of February and this year I'm currently averaging 1 run a month.  Last year I was doing about once a week.  Something has changed recently, however.

A couple months back I had done some reading about barefooting.  It's essentially doing all the same activities but with no shoes on.  My personal philosophy regarding footwear is 'The less I have on my feet, the better.'  I spend most of the time in the warmer months barefoot and a good chunk of the cooler months too.  In reading about barefoot activites, I came across a link to Vibram Fivefinger shoes.  I was a little skeptical at first but after reading through a mountain of reviews, I was starting to yearn for my own pair.  When I started looking into how much they cost and seeing time and again that nearly every retailer was out of stock, I wanted them even more.



Finally, I found a place in Michigan that had the size and color that I wanted.  When I got them and put those things on, I knew immediately that I had a new favorite shoe.  Being someone with wide, flat feet, walking around knock kneed, all I've heard when shoe shopping is all about arch support.  Vibrams have no support.  They are pretty much like a foot condom.  They make running on man made surfaces easily bearable and give you better traction but it truly does feel like you are running barefoot.  Recently I finally took in them that would put my feet's endurance to the test.  A nice little 4.6 miler with my wife as she trains for her next half marathon.  I was amazed at how I felt on this run.  As soon as I started feeling a little pain on my feet from the impact, adjustments to my stride would occur naturally.  I ran better and easier than I ever had.  I was actually getting excited again about running.  Granted you use some slightly different muscles when running barefoot so you have to get used to it.  My calf muscles and I had a long talk afterward.  We're back on speaking terms now.

I'm not sure when I'll get back out there running on a regular basis again but I can honestly tell you now that I won't be dreading the boredom or monotony, at least not for a while.

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