Friday, January 15, 2010

Minimalist Running Shoes

I have been having knee and hip problems lately and getting a little frustrated. I have a history of running injuries that have never allowed me to get over about 25 miles a week. Triathlon training was my answer to gain fitness without the running injuries and the only reason why my running improved so much in my 20s. I have always wanted to go 40-50 miles/week, but never have been able to because of injuries. This last year I have been trying to build my running base and it has taken me almost a year to build up to 20 miles/week….and I have still been getting injured (piriformis syndrome, IT Band issues, Runner’s knee) even though I have been so conservative in building my base.

Luckily, I had just read the book Born to Run when my knee started hurting. This book motivated me to try some minimalist shoes. So, I went and bought some Nike Free 5.0. I ran 2.2 on Monday and then 4 on Wednesday in the Frees. My knee didn’t hurt when I ran in the Frees, but I didn’t know if it was because I took the prior week off running or if it was the shoes. Either way, my runs felt really good each day.

But I heard you have to take it really slow when starting to run in minimalist shoes, so yesterday I decided to wear my Adidas for a 4 mile run. I took off towards the lake, my usual route, but then decided I didn’t want to cross all the streets. So I went running on the dirt path around my house, knowing I would have to do some creative thinking to get 4 miles in. Almost immediately after I started running my knee and hip started hurting. At mile 2.2, I was back at my house with my knee and hip hurting and frustration setting in. Do I quit running? Do I just throw in the towel and say I am getting too old for this? NO! I should not have all these injuries all the time.

So I decided to perform a test. I would run the same exact loop I just did, but in my Frees. I put on my Frees and started running and nothing…NO PAIN. My knee didn’t hurt anymore…. I felt so much better and loved the next 2.2 miles …I felt like I was floating.

Since performing this random test, I have now decided to convert to minimalist shoes. I don’t think I will go barefoot, except for maybe on the track for interval training, but I am going minimalist. I am going to get a pair of Vibram Five fingers and wear my Nike frees.

This does mean I have to start building a new running base…so I can build the muscles in my ankles and feet. So, I don’t think I’ll be running Huntington Beach Half Marathon in Feb. I sure am not going to run that far in my Adidas…it just sounds so painful. And I don’t want to wear my Nike frees, not just yet.

But I am jumping on the band wagon. And I am hoping this works :)

BTW – you HAVE to read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall! It is a REALLY GOOD BOOK, even if you are not a runner. Very informative and inspirational.

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