Brand Champions

Benefits of Barefoot

In the spring, I had numerous bouts with running injuries.  I did physio, saw my RMT constantly, and stretched and rolled like a fiend.  When I asked my podorthist why this was happening, he (as diplomatically as possible) suggested that my form sucks.  I asked what he suggested I do, to which he replied “change the way you run”.  Huh? Change the way I run? How?

Apparently the ticket is barefoot shoes.  No, no…I know what you’re thinking.  I didn’t just slap on a pair of fivefingers and do a 12k track workout.  I almost did, but was again saved by the sage advice of my podorthist.  He gave me a running program, and a few suggestions for shoes.

I promptly went to my favorite shoe store and tried on fivefingers.  I then promptly took them off.  I am confident, but not that confident.  I then tried out some Merrells, and finally settled on the Trail Glove.  Still confused, I took them home and did more research.  Seems like I was in good company, as Merrell had already thought to develop a training program specific to their barefoot shoes – and there was an app for that! I followed the training program outlined on the app in combination with the program from my podorthist.

I then started wearing them everywhere.  I walked around amusement parks, museums, Niagara Falls and more.  Everywhere I went, so went the Trail Gloves.  By the end of this summer I was up to running 1.5k in the shoes.  I kept up my regular runs in my Mizuno Wave Alchemy (quite a contrast indeed) and did short sections with the Merrells. I was starting to feel like nothing was happening.  During one run, one of my running friends noted that my form was looking great.  I hadn’t really thought about it, but apprently, but running was getting better! How cool is that!

I am now 2 weeks from my fall race, the Army Run Half Marathon in Ottawa.  I still run in the alchemy for now, but after this race, I am planning on jumping to a 4mm drop.  Why not barefoot all the way? Too much, too soon. According to experts, it takes between 6 months and a year to completely change a running gait, even with constant work. In other words, I have a long way to go.  I do, however, feel like I have made a great start.

Here is the great part – I am pain free.  I can run 29k with NO foot issues at all. I am faster on my feet.  My joints hurt less. The careful combination of barefoot shoes and my regular runners, coupled with the maintenance of my stretching routine and some very helpful Sugoi Piston calf sleeves, Piston Shorts and R+R full length socks for recovery have me stronger, faster and more confident on the asphalt than ever.   The last remaining question is “how much faster am I?”

I guess we’ll know in two weeks.

Posted on Sep 18, 2012