My barefoot running journey: Testing the shoes

Did you miss the first barefoot running journal entry? If so, you may want to read it first.

It’s now been 4 days since I bought my saucy new minimalist trail running shoes, the New Balance Minimus Trail.

minimalist running shoes

Technically I haven’t actually run in them yet. I decided to wear them around the house first, so on Sunday afternoon, I wore them at home, figuring this was a good way to ease into them.  Within about a half hour, I started getting pain (minor discomfort really) where the arch meets the heel. It was something that I had experienced many years ago with a pair of cleats. In that case, I ended up switching to a pair of cleats with a different cleat pattern and the problem went away. Hmm. I took the shoes off and continued to wander about the house just in socks. The discomfort went away quite quickly.

The next day I decided to wear the shoes at my training studio. Within a half hour, the same thing happened. So I took them off and continued training clients in socks. The discomfort went away. Based on that, I decided I would return the shoes. I figured that the fact that I could switch to barefoot (socks) without discomfort suggested it wasn’t a question of my getting used to minimalist shoes, but that it was the location of one of the bumps (for lack of a better word) on the bottom of the shoe that was a problem for me. I went for a trail run on Tuesday morning without the new shoes and with the intention of returning them that afternoon. I ran out of time that day, so brought them in to my personal training studio Wednesday morning with the intention of returning them that afternoon.

For some reason I put them on one more time. This time, they didn’t hurt. At all. I wore them for a good 2 and a half hours while training clients and then during my own lifting session. No problems. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy that I didn’t just return them. I mean, did you see how awesome they look?

This afternoon marks an exciting moment for both me and my saucy new shoes: the first outdoor run!

I will run to work this afternoon. It’s a short run – 1.4 km (ya, living close to work is awesome). And realistically, I’ll probably stop once on the way. I am after all, just starting back into running – it’s only been about 2 weeks now. Intermittently.

I am also reviewing my form. I have read a bit about Chi running, have attended a great workshop by a sports medicine doctor and a physiotherapist about running, and have seen some instructional videos. Last night I downloaded a copy of ChiRunning to my ipad, although i haven’t started it yet (but you learn just by buying, right?). The few times that I have run recently in my funky Adidas, I have tried my interpretation of Chi Running. I am sure it’s not 100%. Really I’m working on just leaning forward and then letting my feet catch up to me. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but until I learn more (will start reading tonight and hoping to take a course), that’s what I’m going with. In my head I’m thinking of myself as a kid running. You know how little kids look like they are constantly about to fall over forward when they run, but somehow their feet catch up? I see two benefits to thinking of this:

  1. I think it might actually be correct.
  2. It feels hilarious, and I like hilarity.
  3. I know, I said 2 reasons. But bonus reason number 3 is that I have a good friend who skates this way. As an adult. It’s hilarious. I’m going to start thinking of him now when I run. If you see me running by laughing, now you know why. I wonder if he’ll read this. If so, I wonder if he’ll know I’m talking about him. No, this has nothing to do with Barefoot Running. But everything to do with not taking running too seriously. Which is a great lead in to the rest of the article.

Running Goals

What are my running goals?   I dunno.

Will I run a 10km race? A marathon?   Doubt it.

How long will each run be?   Dunno.

How many runs will I do each week?   Some, I guess.

Here’s the deal: While I’m going to jump in feet first to this new minimalist shoe trend, beyond that, I’m going to do the opposite of what most runners do. But I actually think is the core message of Born to Run. It’s not entirely about the shoes.

I’m going to run when I want to run. I’m not going to train. 

I hope I stick to this. The competitive soul within me may try to hijack this effort, but I will do my best to let my free-spirit soul win out. (Yes, I am a Gemini). I want to experience running as a treat, not a job. I don’t care if I run 4 minute miles or 14 minute miles. Or if I log 100 miles per week or 1 mile per week. I don’t know why I’m writing this in imperial, as it doesn’t  really mean anything to me. But I suppose that supports my point: I am going to run free of numbers and goals and judgments. I am just going to run.

As much as possible, I’m going to run in awesome places.

Places where trails weave through forests and along rivers, and up and down hills. Where chickadees will eat out of your hands, where deer sightings are normal, and you sometimes have to stop because the Canada Geese are blocking your path. Jack Pine trail. The Experimental Farm. Gatineau Park. Mer Bleu. Ottawa is blessed with some fantastic nature locales and there is something truly magical about running in nature’s glory.

If I am running and I feel like walking, I will walk. If I am walking and I feel like running, I will run.

I did the latter on the weekend, and it was awesome. I was meeting friends on Elgin St for breakfast, so I decided that instead of walking, I would run/walk. I didn’t change into running clothes. I wore jeans; not running pants. A regular bra; not a sports bra. My sporty-casual 3/4 length fall coat; not a running jacket. And the funky Adidas, which I probably would have worn anyways. I didn’t run enough to get all sweaty so that I’d wish I had put on workout wear. But I ran enough that it took less than 15 minutes to get there instead of 20+.

Remember when you were a kid and you just ran? Why don’t we do that anymore? I’ve decided to start. Anyone else?

Click here to see the next entry with the results of outdoor run #1. Well, not the results. Cuz you know – there will be no results since I’ll just be running. :) But I’ll let you know how it felt.

 

If you’d like to circle back to the beginning of my barefoot running journal, you can get there with this link. At the end of each entry there is a link to the next one.

 

Elsbeth Vaino, B.Sc., CSCS is a personal trainer in Ottawa, Canada.

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