Thursday, July 31, 2008

Day 1

The Quick Stats:
Days I've had Vibram Fivefingers: 1
KMs Run in Fivefingers: 0
Longest run in Fivefingers: NA
Love/Hate? Undecided

Wow... is the floor in here ever hard!

That was my first thought this morning when I tried on a pair of Vibram Fivefingers for the first time. I wasn't expecting to find any real padding, but still - I was blown away by the fact that there is absolutely none. I walked around Trailhead and marveled at how I could feel every little thing beneath my feet. I was in the same moment both smitten and scared. I've always made sure my trail shoes have a rock-plate/snake-plate/bullet-proof-feel-no-stones-plate in the past, and now here I am, trying on the antithesis of the cushioned and protected shoe.

The saleswoman at the store - an ultra runner herself - told me of another local ultra runner who was doing some runs in these shoes and loving it. That made me feel a bit better.

First Impressions...

I'd gone to the store during lunch, and put the Fivefingers on the moment I got back to work. Walking around suddenly became different. I had to consciously work on not heel-striking, and was sure I looked awkward if not flat-out-funny walking down the hall. I can only imagine what running will be like - and I'm wondering if a jaunt on the basement treadmill isn't the way to go first time out.

After an afternoon of walking in them (not too far - around the office, and the 1km walk to my car after work) - I'm really liking them. I'm still somewhat scared of how the first run will go, but that won't be until tomorrow at lunch - I've decided I'll try a very short run then and see how it goes. Maybe I'll take a late lunch - when there's less people milling about to humiliate myself in front of.

Day 1 - final thoughts...

My feet are not exactly sore - but I can feel them. I'm working hard at not hitting with my heels, but I'm sure that will come with time. So far, so good. Let's see how tomorrow's run is!

Day 0

Welcome to the Vibram Fivefingers Experiment... 

I'm writing the welcome as much for myself as for anyone else.  This is indeed an experiment, and while I'm hoping for the best, only time will tell if it's a good idea. 

Let's get it started...

First, a quick introduction, and a  little background.  Always helps to know who's writing and why...  My name's Matt, generally I write it M@.  What can I say, I'm a geek.  Unlike many of my WoW addicted colleagues, however, I'm also an ultra-runner.  My current goal is to complete a 50 miler - but in the meantime I've completed several smaller ultra marathons including a couple of 6-hour Transcendence races (60.03km and 55.83km) and a couple of rounds of the Jay Challenge run in Vermont.  Like many long distance runners, I've also had several running injuries along the way.  IT band problems with one knee, hip bursitis, and most recently a case of shin splints in one leg - brought on after a foot injury in my last race.  My foot injury was mild - and I was able to run through it - but alas, it forced me to change my gait somewhat, and that lead to the shin splint.  

I have a habit of researching things I'm interested in... my wife would say I have a habit of over-researching - but I think she's just jealous that I can talk for hours about things that she finds immensely boring.  That's what I'm going to believe anyway...

And so, when I became injured this latest time, and had more time to read research due to my forced running hiatus, I started coming across information on barefoot running again.  I'd seen some of this before, but it had held little interest for me at the time - and I'd passed it by.  Maybe my previous judgment was too quick - because I found myself now staring at a line in a paper that effectively said a runner's constant and frustrating shin splint problems went away completely after transitioning to barefoot running - never to return.  Now that's something I could use!

This in turn lead to a full on pounding of Google Scholar - digging up article after article on barefoot running.  I digested these and moved onto blogs, websites, usenet postings... and when the internet was used up, I started digging through the trash of known barefoot runners...  Ok, maybe I didn't go that far - but I did do a lot of reading, and was convinced that I wanted to try this whole barefoot thing out.

Problem is - I can't walk a block around my city without seeing a couple beer bottles' worth of glass shards strewn across the sidewalk.  According to the site - dealing with glass is as easy as: "Watching where you step, and don't scuff your feet on the ground."

I don't know about you - but I'm sure that I can't watch the ground so closely when I run that I'll avoid all of the glass.  In fact, when I'm trail running - I won't even watch the ground closely enough to save myself from the giant, very visible roots that send me ass over tea-kettle.  "Wow... does that lake ever look amaz.... AHHH!" Crash.  Never look at the scenery.  Never.

With this in mind, I decided I'd need something else.  I want to run barefoot, but I need some protection, so all of my research led to one option - the Vibram Fivefingers.  

And so it begins....

Day 0 - I've made the choice to start running in the Fivefingers - to try running barefoot, or at least as close as I'm willing to come.  Tomorrow I'll go buy the shoes, and we'll get this whole thing started.  I'll document each day, and each run here in hopes of helping others who may be interested in trying this out themselves.  As I said, it's an experiment...