The book, Born to Run, has changed my life. I always thought running was a sport for the young. That running was a sport that destroys your knees and joints. Born to Run changed this misconception and has put me on the long term path of successful running into my old age. During so many races, I am passed by 60 year old runners. I am not slow, these granddads are just super fast.
Not only did I start running due to Born to Run, but I also changed my running style. After finishing the book, my wife got me some Vibram Fivefingers for my birthday. The shoes were so exciting. I put them on immediately and jogged to the river, where I usual start my runs. My first run I just made it to the river and was done. The transition from shoes to barefoot running is a long and tortuous journey. Make the transition too quickly and you are at serious risk of injury. Make the transition too slow and you have a good chance of going insane.
The key is to take your barefoot runs slow at the beginning. Running in Vibram Fivefingers requires completely new muscles that are most likely severly underused. You can't expect to be able to run long runs immediately. The best way to make the transition to barefoot running is to carry your former running shoes in your backpack and change your shoes mid-run. Or if you are lucky like me, you couldn't run far when you first started.
When I started running barefoot, I ran 2.5 km five days a week for about six months before I could finally start increasing the distance. I slowly built up to 5km and then to 7km. I signed up for a half marathon and wasn't sure how far I could make it. At this point I had not run further than about 7km. The adrenaline propelled my start, but I was hurting at 13km. My calves were tightening up and I felt I couldn't make it any longer. My style worsened but I kept going and finished in 1 hour and 47 minutes, which is a respectable time for a first half marathon.
Ten months later, I was running my first marathon. Friends told me to stop and put on shoes with cushion. Friends told me I was never going to finish a marathon in these wacky Vibram Five Fingers. Well, marathon running is 5% race and 95% training. I trained long and hard for this marathon race. Unfortunately, I got sick two weeks before the race so I feel that I could have done better. However, I finished the race in 3 hours and 47 minutes. Lovely!
After another year and a few other races in between, I signed up for my first trail run. The Hakuba International Trail Run is an amazing run that I have blogged about in an earlier post. Let's just suffice it to say, trail running requires some trail shoes. My Vibrams were worn out and had very little traction for the slippery mountain trails. However, 50km in Vibrams on mountain trails is possible and comes with serious bragging rights.
How has your transition to barefoot running been? Let us know in the comments.
We surveyed the web and scoured the recent The Running Event for the most unique and practical gifts for the runner in your life. Yes, shoes, shirts, and shorts are all great gifts for runners, but use this list to find unique running gadgets!