Thursday, November 25, 2010

5 Finger Shoes Trail Run

Last night before jumping into bed I got all my winter running clothes ready because the mercury was going to dip below freezing.  For most people living in US, that is not much of an issue.  However, for those of us living in warmer climates like the Bay Area, it's not common.

Earlier during the week I had planned walk on Thanksgiving morning because I injured my left hamstring slightly from doing 50 meter sprints last week.  Not that 50 meter sprints are hard if you do them on a regular basis.  I have not done any sprinting since 1980-the year that I graduated high school.  Most of my track team mates were so sick of interval training that we swore that we would never do them again.  I recently started sprinting again because I could complete a hard work out in less than 10 minutes.  It's called the path of least resistance or just plain laziness.  This works for me!

At 7 AM, just as the sun was starting to warm up the cold night air, I started fitting my tootsies into the glove like 5 Five Finger Shoes.  I was getting a little apprehensive about my first trail run in these near barefoot shoes.  I was about to go running over rail road tracks, gravel, thorns, rocks, and mud.

The trail was a 5 minute run from my home.  I cringed when my feet hit the gravel.  I had to sort of tap dance over the rocky terrain.  I was immediately flooded with childhood memories of running barefoot.  As a youngster, we shucked our shoes on the last day of school and only wore them to church and while mowing the lawn.  Other than that, I had no need for them.  The first few days were always painful.  I grew up on a gravel road and it was tricky to navigate the sharp stones.

I was only planning on a short 30 minute run.  After 15 minutes out, I was starting to feel good.  My feet were stretching out.  I was adjusting to my new found forefoot style of running.  This method of running has more bio-mechanical benefits.  When you run barefoot, the leading foot lands just below the hip and pushes the body forward rather than pulling it.  It's circular motion.  You use gravity to your advantage rather than working against it.  As long as I was leaning slightly forward (falling), I was in motion like a car rolling on blacktop.  My feet were like wheels beneath me.  It did not take long to get used to it.  Most of became natural because I was landing on the forefoot rather than the heel.

As I was running, I saw a bicycist riding in the opposite direction on the levy.  I could see the revolutions of his strokes by the sun reflecting off the rotation peddles.  I thought that the bicyclist was a runner because I could not see much beyond the reflecting peddles.  The peddling motion was fluid and smooth.  It looked just like how a barefoot or five finger runner looks!

This run was not even close to being pain free.  I felt a lot of stones jabbing at my tender feet.  A few hours after the run, my calves were sore.  I don't think that I have used these muscles for years.  I was just as sore after this run as I was after a full 26.2 mile marathon!

Will I run with my 5 Finger Shoes again?  You bet!  I am convinced that most of my running injuries were from over protecting my feet.  I never had plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, shin splints, etc when I ran barefoot all summer.  I even rode my bicycle barefoot. 

Here is the link to Amazon to get the full review of the 5 finger running shoes.

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