Running In Vibrams To Focus On Form
It has been a while since I shared an update of transitioning to natural running. Yes, I’m still “transitioning” and I’m still learning about form and how to improve it.
In April I talked about how incredibly sore the bottoms of my feet would get with 12+ mile runs. I had never experienced this before and had no idea why, all of a sudden, it started. Of course my first thought was it must be the shoes. Maybe I’m not meant to run long in Newtons. Over the years and with injuries I’ve been conditioned to think that if I have a running problem it MUST be the shoes. Have an injury? It MUST be the shoes. So, I changed shoes. Loved the shoes but I still had the pain with long runs. Ugh! I was so frustrated at this point. I questioned whether or not I should stop natural running and go back to a heel strike form. That seemed illogical and made absolutely no sense to me. In a last ditch effort I contacted Newton’s online support. After a few emails back and forth it turns out that, surprise, it’s not the shoes. It was my form causing the pain. I was landing too high up on my foot and I was stabbing the ground with my forefoot. A few miles of this form and it was undetected but 12+ miles with this form was unbearable.
That’s where the Vibrams came in. Newton recommended 2 drills, barefoot running and running barefoot on one foot with a Newton on the other and focus on how your foot hits the ground. Barefoot to me meant Vibrams. It was 2 weeks before the Hawthorn Half Day Relay and Ultra. I knew I needed to try and correct my bad habit of stabbing the ground or odds of me running for 12 hours were slim to none. Although not ideal timing and against conventional wisdom of not making major changes so close to a race, I started running 1-1.5 miles “barefoot” before every run and a few times a week with one Vibram and one Newton. I was totally FOCUSED on my form. Seriously, barefoot drills is probably the best running advice I’ve ever received! Two weeks later. 32.5 miles of running and NO FOOT PAIN!! It’s been about 3 weeks since I started both drills and I have NOT had any foot pain. Sweet!
According to Vibram FiveFingers
Free your feet to perform at their best. The benefits of running barefoot have long been supported by scientific research. And there is ample evidence that training without shoes allows you to run faster and farther with fewer injuries.
No footwear comes closer to recreating this natural sensation than Vibram FiveFingers®. It allows you to land on your forefoot, directly below your center of gravity, resulting in optimum balance, increased stability, less impact and greater propulsion. Running inFiveFingers delivers sensory feedback that improves agility and equilibrium and allows immediate form correction. In addition it stimulates and strengthens muscles in the feet and lower legs.
My experience with 3 weeks of running in Vibrams
- Your foot naturally knows how to hit the ground. I either gave this very little thought in the past or discounted the significance.
- If you run barefoot on one foot and a shoe on the other the shoed foot follows the form of the barefoot. This fascinates me!
- I now understand and realize the importance of the sensory feedback when running. I know how my foot fall SHOULD feel and if it feels off I know how to correct it.
- All of this is so new to me. I’m fascinated enough to get me through the fact that I’m still “transitioning” to natural running.
- It seems so deliberate and a lot to think about at first. Slowly but surely natural running is feeling more natural.
- I’m not sure for how long but I will continue weekly barefoot drills. As of now I don’t think I will ever run in Vibrams exclusively. But, then again, who knows?
If I were to make a recommendation or 2 with my limited 3 weeks experience:
Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to put the Vibrams on. When you first start wearing them. This in itself is a test of determination.
If you decide to try natural running, follow the advice of the experts. Do the form drills and include barefoot running.
Have you ever considered trying barefoot running? Do you ever go against conventional wisdom of running? Have you ever made a major change close to race day?