Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Barefoot Running? Why not!

My knees suck from hiking the Appalachian Trail. I have been off the AT for a few months and have been getting out of shape. So in an effort to try to get in shape and see if I can strengthen my knees I took up barefoot running. I have been told I should not run, but barefoot running is easier on the body and especially the knees. In an effort to give it a try, I had to give it a chance. I am using Vibram's FiveFingers footwear as a low profile footwear so I am not actually barefoot, but believe me when I say if you slam your heel or foot into the ground it will hurt. I am on a treadmill at the gym since the air quality isn't good right now for running outside. I started last week with a session with five sets of running alternated with walking. The key to running barefoot is to land on the midsole before allowing the toes and heel to contact the ground. The other key is to have a straight posture. Since I don't run and haven't, I really had no bad habits to break first. At this point it is a matter of getting in shape. At the end of that first session, the midsole of my feet was killing me, my calves were sore and my ankles were a little sore too. The next two days was probably the worst calf pain I have had in a while, but my midsoles were better as were my ankles.

So maybe I am a sucker for punishment but I had to keep going to see if this was something that would work for me. At this point after one session, my calves are really the only thing that hurt. Good news is my knees and lower back are fine. Not something I generally say after hiking. The next session I did about the same time and number of sets. This session was harder as my calves were still sore, but other than sore midsoles and calves, I was again fine. Yesterday was my third session and I increased the number of sets to six. The feet are recovering faster from the tenderness and the calves are not nearly as sore as the first time. So far barefoot running seems to be working for me. It is kind of fun as it seems easier to run this way, utilizing the natural spring in the arch.