I finally ran again (first time since Saturday) despite the fact my cold is lingering and it was only 34 degrees out. I decided to take some new shoes for a test run.
Before I get into today’s run, let me give you some background on my shoe (and running) history.
I’m not sure what made me do it, but in May 2010 I decided to run my local 5k (http://www.mainstreethp.org/hp5k.cfm) – this time not having run for years (not even a little bit). I had been cycling again for a few years (after a pretty long gap), but always had the problem of finding enough time to ride. I filled the gaps with short visits to the gym, which didn’t seem to be doing much good, so after I ran this race and realized I could enjoy running, I decided that this might actually do me more good than ineffective gym visits (usually where I spent 40 minutes on a bike and/or a rowing machine).
What worried me more than anything was all the stories of running injuries, so I did what seemed to be the right thing and found a running store that would analyze my run and find me the best pair of shoes. I ended up with a pair of Mizuno wave inspire 6 shoes.
For the next couple of months I ran about 6 miles a week, and entered another 5k that September where I improved my previous time by 2 minutes (but my legs did really ache for a couple of days after).
That’s about the time I discovered through a friend the theory of barefoot running and the possibility that this may be the most effective way to reduce injury. I bought myself a pair of Fivefingers and really, really, really slowly eased into running in them. By December I was running a mile in them 3 times a week (it should be noted I did no other running in this time, and I started out at less than a third of a mile – and I’d had to go back and start again after having some issues from increasing distance too quickly); by January I was regularly running 2 miles, and by May I was ready for the local 5k again. I’d got faster again, and the best thing was I felt great at the end of the run.
I don’t want this to be a barefoot running blog as there are plenty of those around, and also, I don’t feel I’m qualified to tell anyone it’s better than anything else – I had very limited experience running prior to running in barefoot shoes, and the pains I had could have easily been attributed to the fact that I was just a new runner. Anyway, I have stuck with it, it appears to be working for me (the only injuries I have had were caused by significantly increasing my running over last winter – ramping up too quickly from only 5k races and runs of no more than 4 miles, to preparing for a half marathon that coming April). For the record, every pair of shoes I own from my running shoes to my work shoes are barefoot shoes as I don’t find regular shoes at all comfortable any more and I’m happy there are so many other shoe options now.
Currently my favorite shoes are the New Balance Minimus Road Zero. My first ever run in these was a 5 mile race and since then I have used them in every single race (except a half marathon, but only because I had never run more than a 10k in those shoes and didn’t want to take a chance). I also own a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves and a couple of pairs of Vibram Bikila’s.
Today I ran in the least minimal shoes I own – a pair of New Balance Minimus 10 shoes that I picked up cheap. My theory for buying them (other than the price which was worth it alone) was that they would help on hilly runs (in a hilly race earlier in the year I found my heel hurt a little a the end of the race and I believe it was because some of the steeper downhill sections had forced an occasional heel strike).
I’m not quite sure how I feel about these shoes. I ran just under 4 miles and there was definitely some rubbing on the bottom of my feet but perhaps I didn’t have them on tight enough (they are the same size as the Zero’s and I’ve never had that problem with those). On the biggest downhill I decided to allow myself to go faster than usual and they felt pretty good there, but not quite as stable when I got to the turn at the bottom although perhaps that was just because of the extra speed. Finally, they felt heavier – not much, but enough that it felt a bit odd – and although I was forefoot striking it seemed like I could feel how close to the ground my heel was. I wouldn’t have expected to feel the weight at all given there’s only a couple of ounces between these and my other shoes. Perhaps it was psychological.