I like to run.
Don’t get the wrong idea, I am not an athlete. I don’t run long distance races or have anything that remotely resembles a runner’s body. I have been away from running for many months and I look more like a blob than something long and lean. I want to get back to it.
But, in recent years I have dealt with a lot of pain in my feet when I take to the streets (or the treadmill, for that matter). I have spent many mornings hobbling out of bed, reaching for my dresser to lean on so I can stretch my calf to alleviate some of the tightness.
The best solution was to ice it, but if you have never rolled a frozen water bottle around under the arch of your foot, you don’t know what uncomfortable really is.
A couple of months ago I read an article in the newspaper about running barefoot. It intrigued me. The proponents of barefoot running say that it’s how humans were meant to run, which makes perfect sense to me.
When you run barefoot, you are forced to stop slamming your heel into the pavement because it hurts too much. You compensate for the pain and shift your landing to the forefoot. While researching it further, I read that the technology in today’s running shoes simply hides the pain of a shoe-wearer’s heel-strike.
I thought about it more. All of my friends who are distance runners have had injuries. Plantar Fasciitis, Achilles pain and aching knees are the norm. I even know someone who lost all of his toenails. Back in the 70’s, when shoes were minimal, I never heard of those things happening.
So, I tried it. Not on the open road, but on my treadmill. My foot fell at a completely different spot, my stride was altered and I had a lot more endurance. After a while I began to feel blisters forming on the balls of my feet, so I stopped and put shoes on. And with shoes on feet, just like that, I went back to firmly landing on my heel.
After my barefoot run I was sore…in a totally good way. My calves hurt because I actually used them, but other than the blisters, my feet were in pretty good shape.
Now my husband would probably rather die than look like a barefoot hippie running down the road, but I don’t care about what people think if it means I won’t be in pain anymore. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine running without shoes on outside. It’s not the rocks that scare me, it’s the roadkill. For real.
So I started looking into barefoot, or minimalist, running shoes. Something without the shock absorbing heel so I will be forced to land the way a human should. From what I read, the best shoe for this is called the Vibram Five Finger.
Only, it’s not five fingers, it’s five toes. Remember how I said that I don’t care what I look like? Yeah. Scratch that. I just don’t know if I have enough self-confidence for these.