“Maybe you’re over-analyzing this.”
I’d asked my husband to come downstairs and watch me run on the treadmill when he came home. I’ve been googling “proper running form,” “heel strike vs. forefoot strike,” “barefoot running” etc. for a few days now and really haven’t come any closer to figuring out how, exactly, I’m supposed to be running. Maybe he’s right. Maybe I am over-analyzing this.
It started on Sunday when I went for my first run in my VFF’s and left every and all expectations at home. I went out, mostly, just to pray. I told myself not to think about form or time or distance, just to enjoy my time out and do whatever felt good. It was pouring down rain, the track I decided to run on was, in parts, completely flooded with water past my ankles, and after just a few minutes on the track, I was soaked. It was amazing!!! I ran when I felt like it, walked when I didn’t, splashed in puddles, slid in mud, and had an awesome time. At one point in the run, when I was all prayed out, I decided to “train” for a bit, on some of the bigger hills and that’s when I discovered something:
I really DO love hills! When I’m running up a hill everything feels great. My feet don’t hurt and my shins don’t scream at me. As soon as I’d get off the hills and onto a straight stretch, the front of my legs would start to hurt again, and so would my feet. And so I wondered… is there any way to simulate hill running, when I’m on a flat surface?
I’ve spent every run since then trying to figure out how to run on a flat surface the way I run up hills. If I’ll bend my knees more, run on my forefoot instead of midfoot or heel, tip my body forward (trying not to bend at the waist), I’m not only running comfortably but I’m running FAST (again, please refer back to previous posts such as this one and this one for my personal definition of “fast.”) ;) Today, I ran just under a 10 minute mile… but had to stop a few times to catch my breath… cardiovascularly, I’m just not there yet.
But that makes me wonder… am I putting too much pressure on my knees? Going too fast to withstand a long distance? Bending too much at the waist?
I have no earthly idea.
I will say this, though: I LOOOOVE running in the Vibram Fivefingers. Even though I haven’t figured out what the “proper” way to run is, I’m having so much more fun running than I’ve ever had before. Yesterday, I jumped on the treadmill to run a mile as soon as I woke up JUST BECAUSE I WANTED TO. It wasn’t a “training” day, it wasn’t a day for a scheduled run, I just wanted to feel my legs (and feet, because of course I did it barefoot!) underneath me for a little while. That’s a HUGE milestone because it’s the first time I’ve ever run… dare I say it… just for the fun of it!!! I’ve been trying to put my finger on it, because I really don’t think I love barefoot (or nearly barefoot running) just because it’s more comfortable (although it DEFINITELY is.) I think it has something to do with feeling the road under me, having my feet free to move any way they want to, and being able to splash in the huge puddles of water that have been accumulating everywhere lately without worrying about wet socks and blisters. There is something natural and freeing and just right about running so close to being barefoot. I’m even considering getting a pair of huaraches, to see how they feel (for $20 you really can’t go wrong.)
In the end, I have to say that I’m sold on barefoot running. Whether I’ll ever be able to go long distances in the VFF’s or huaraches, or even just completely barefoot, I couldn’t say. As of right now, I still haven’t tried to run for more than a mile at a time in the VFF’s. But even if I never get anything more out of them than the couple of experiences I’ve had lately, enjoying my runs, these shoes were worth every penny I paid for them.