Did I get calf implants?
I think I must have. I mean, I certainly feel like I did. I don't think my calves have ever felt so full - that the skin has felt so ready to burst open - and I only ran 3k!
I'm not 100% certain I was 'doing-it-right.' I think, given what I've read since this afternoon's run, that I was landing too much on the balls of my feet, instead of trying to focus on a 'mid-foot' strike. I'll have to work on it next time. I know that I've got to build up the muscles that have been dormant, or close-to-dormant thanks to 32 years of shoes - but at the same time, I can't imagine that it will be that straining on the calves when done properly - otherwise, I'd need to be calf-zilla to simply get through a long run in my new Fivefingers.
The first run...
I can now say for sure that walking in these things is harder than running in them. When you're running, it's easier to have your foot strike under your torso, and therefore easier to run properly and avoid a heel-strike. I'm still finding walking in them to be a bit of a challenge.
For today's run - my very first in Vibram Fivefingers, I chose an easy route that leaves the athletic center, down a concrete sidewalk to a park that has a worn-in grass/dirt path around it's perimeter, followed by running the various paved trails that crisscross the park. I figured this would give my a good mix of conditions in one short run, and would keep me close enough to the gym that I could bail at any time.
My first impression from the run was that traveling on concrete was easier than expected. I was ready for a hard foot-destroying poudning, but it turns out the research was right - the body's natural mechanisms for dealing with the impact of running (not heel striking mind you!) but the mid to fore foot strike does a great job of providing cushioning. If, however, you do heel strike - and I did this about 3 times on the run - you'll feel it right up to the top of your skull. Those 3 strikes all happened relative close to the start of the run - and I hope they'll be the last - ouch!
I also noticed that stepping on some small pebbles here and there wasn't as bad as I'd expected. I could feel them, but it wasn't the foot-bruising impact I'd been expecting. Addionally, I noticed I was stepping on a shard of glass just a moment too late, and had instant visions of a sliced foot, stitches, and weeks off of running - but the soles of the Fivefingers are very tough, and there wasn't even a mark in them after my run. This, of course, is great news for me - as that's exactly why I've chosen these 'shoes' (can you call them shoes?) rather than running completely barefoot.
As I went through the run, I could feel my calves getting tighter and tighter. Just before my recent bout of shin splints - the problem that started me down this path in the first place - I was running about 80km/week. Since then, I've been doing plenty to keep my legs up - so I was pretty sure that 3km wasn't overkill in terms of a simple run. Maybe, however, it was a bit much for a first run in the Fivefingers? Or maybe it was just that I've yet to master the technique. Either way, in the end, my calves felt like baloons. Baloons that were about to pop. And even now, 8 hours later, they still feel pretty tight. I'm wondering what walking will feel like tomorrow?