Vibram FiveFingers - The Next Frontier
Technically, you should conquer the last frontier before you go after the next one, but what can I say? It'll be several months until I'm ready for another shot at Boston.
What you're looking at are the Vibram FiveFinger KSO's. My goal - over the next several months - is to run in them.
There's a lot of hype about the healthfulness of barefoot running and a lot of debate, too. Quite frankly, I don't know what's correct or - more important - what'll be correct for me. But here's why I'm trying to do this:
1) Currently, I go through the outsoles of traditional running shows in 280 miles - approximately every seven weeks. That's a lot of waste and a lot of $.
2) Though I did a lot to get through shinsplints and knee pain, barefoot proponents say that eliminating shoes is a better way to eliminate pain.
3) November/December is my experimental period. I try to do something different... Last year, every run I did in December (except one race) was a trail run.
While I'm talking about barefoot running, I should point that I have no interest in actual barefoot running. A. I think it's kind of gross, B. Diabetics are prone to foot problems. I've never had one and I don't want to start now.
What I do have interest in is becoming a minimalist runner - one who develops a mid-foot strike and wears simpler (and cheaper) shoes.
In short, if I'm a healthier runner, I can run more miles. More miles = faster runner. Simpler shoes that last longer = wealthier runner. In short, I want to be richer and faster and this is my plan to get there.
Here's where we are:
While I ordered the Vibram KSO's last week, I shipped them back the same day because the sizing didn't feel right. Unfortunately, there's nobody local who sells them, so this had to be a mail order deal. (I also had to order Injinji socks, since they're the only ones with the single toes.) Along the way, Vibram answered a handfull of questions I had about models and sizing until I finally had the model I wanted in a size that fit. Nice job on the customer service, Vibram. :)
Today was my first run in them. The idea was an easy two mile jog. The first half mile was pretty strange, and I wondered how anybody in the world could do this long term. But I had no place else to go, so I shuffled along. Around the 1/2 mile point, something clicked, though. I found myself worrying less about my feet (but paying attention to where they were going), getting better at landing on my forefoot and just - overall - getting into a flow. When I came in the mile mark (11:00 - two minutes slower than a typical recover run!), I decided to keep going out for another half mile. The good mojo continued on the second mile, too. I found myself getting even more comfortable, though by the two mile mark, I was also getting tired in places I wasn't used to getting tired. I finished the second mile in about 10:40.
The third mile was more tiring now, but again I was having fun - exercising muscles I hadn't in a long time. Despite basically running barefoot on macadam all this distance, my knees and shins felt great. I finished the third mile in 10:20. Not too shabby to negative split my first Vibram run.
So far, so good. I'm not exactly sure how I'll fully transition into this - if I can use these shoes on every run, or if I should go every other day for the time being, but there are plenty of online forums about this stuff and I'm taking it all in, one step at a time.
Thanks to Chris Shontz for the pic of my shoes!