Chris had always been keen on running and, unfortunately, had always suffered from running injuries as a result. It wasn’t until he bounded down the road in his, admittedly, rather strange looking minimalist running shoes that he realised what he’d been doing wrong all these years. Less is definitely more.
I’ve been getting back into running over the past few weeks, mostly in my inov-8 roclites. After about two weeks of doing about 5k every other day I was geting quite a bit of soreness in my knees and I could feel my old shin splints creeping back. So, about three days ago I decided to dust off my Vibram fivefingers classics and head out round the park with my housemate. I can’t believe I ever stopped running in them.
For those of you not in the know, Vibram fivefingers are a minimalist make of shoe that is supposed to get you as close to being barefoot as is possible without simply taking your shoes off entirely (which many people have started doing). They’re shaped like feet, with pockets for each toe (yes, they do look a little bit odd) that fit snugly so that after a few steps you feel like you aren’t wearing anything on your feet at all; and that feels pretty amazing.
It seems, if you buy into the research and testimonials of so called ‘barefoot’ or minimalist runners, that we have all been tricked. Big shoe manufacturers have been selling us shoes with heel support, ankle support, pronation and supination correction, forefoot padding and as many variations as you can wave your foot at. We’ve been told that we need a nice thick heeled shoe to protect our dainty feet, and support from all angles because otherwise we might twist our ankles etc. But apparently, we don’t need any of that, and it sort of makes sense really: human beings have been running around long since the invention of Nike airs, and in some places in the world humans are still running barefoot (usually with much better technique than your average jogger!). All of these bells and whistles on modern running shoes just get in the way of your body doing what it naturally does very well.
As soon as I take off those heavy (compared to the minimalist shoes) padded shoes and get into my minimalist vibrams my gait changes, suddenly I start listening to what my feet are telling me. Landing softly and almost bouncing off of my forefoot. I can suddenly run further and faster with very little effort. What’s more, I have a much better time!
My classics aren’t the best for running on pavement; Vibram do a model that’s designed specifically for road running that I’m toying with getting (but they’re rather expensive), but for the time being I’ve ordered myself a pair of Vivobarefoot ultras to try. Again they’re a minimalist shoe designed to let you really connect with the ground underneath you as you run. I literally can’t wait to get them on and get 5k under me around the park.
I’ve also just discovered these; they’re called huaraches and they are basically running sandals. You can order a DIY kit from various companies in america, or just buy some rubber and material for laces and try to make your own. I must have the minimalist bug because I am desperate to make a pair! I’ll keep you updated on the silly things I decide to wear on my feet whilst running.
If you’re a runner, an aspiring runner or a ex-runner who’s given up after numerous injuries, I’d strongly advise you to try some minimalist running; it’s like discovering running all over again, only the way it’s supposed to be done.