What Are Those??

Last year I blogged about the barefoot/minimalist running movement with great curiosity. Since then I read Chris McDougall’s outstanding book Born to Run, which further convinced me that minimalist running is worth a try. (Since my preferred running course is made of crushed limestone, barefoot doesn’t seem like a smart move for me) This week, I finally took the plunge.

The picture above shows my new toys, a pair of Vibram FiveFingers Bikilas. Think of them as stretchy gloves for my feet with a thin layer of rubber on the bottom for a bit of rock protection.

VFFs for runners work like Alli weight loss pills for people on a low-fat diet; they force you to do the right thing and punish you when you don’t. Most people run in cushy running shoes that allow them to land hard on their heels, which the human body just isn’t designed to do. Try that in the VFFs, and you’ll be in a world of heel pain. Instead, the VFFs naturally guide you into a midsole or forefoot strike, which is much better biomechanically. When I test-drove them on a treadmill at Luke’s Locker, it barely felt like my heel was hitting the ground.

Per Vibram’s advice, I’m easing into them to allow my body time to adjust. After all, my heel is suddenly about an inch closer to the ground, and my feet aren’t yet as strong as they should be. I ran a mile on Wednesday. I started off at a decent pace, just getting a feel for how they worked and trying to watch out for large rocks. They felt awesome – very light, comfortable, and just natural. At the halfway point, I realized how fast I was going and was surprised at how little effort it was taking. Toward the end I picked up the pace a bit. I finished in one of the fastest mile times I’ve ever run without really trying and with no pain. If this is a sign of things to come, I’ll be a very happy man.

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