My First ‘Barefoot’ Run

I went for my first run in my Vibram FiveFingers this weekend! Ben and I had only been walking in them because I’ve been reading everywhere that I really need to ease into ‘barefoot’ running so that the muscles in my feet and legs can adjust and adapt to so much sensory information.

By Saturday, I decided that my back was feeling much better and that I was going to try a short jog around the park (the park near our house has lots of grass as well as a good hill).  Since one loop around the park is about 3/4 mile, I figured I’d try one lap and then see how I felt.

I also took in mind the many running articles I’ve read that say to slow down the pace a bit and try to run at a pace where I can hold a conversation.  I figured that this would help with not over-exerting myself.  I don’t see myself as a fast runner to begin with (I typically average about 11 minute miles), so I came to terms with the fact that I’d be quite the snail that morning, geared up with my Vibrams and a brand new running playlist (!!) and set off around the park.

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I started by walking half a lap without my headphones – I really wanted to be able to hear what my body was telling me [Is this not the right day to start running again?  Are these hills too much for my first run in Vibrams?].  My body felt better than it had in weeks so I started out slowly.  I kept my pace comfortable, feeling as though I could have held a conversation the entire time, and got to try my Vibrams out on both grass and pavement.

So, how’d it go?

I love running in my Vibrams! I felt a bit silly at first – people kept staring at me and my body felt like it was re-centering itself.  I truly feel like my body was better able to handle the impact of running with these than my super-thick-gel-soled shoes, and I felt connected to running, if that makes any sense.

As I eased into the run, I was shocked to find that my feet weren’t hurting at all, even while running on pavement (I do have pretty tough feet from growing up barefoot, though).  Running on pavement felt easier than running on grass (the same way running in shoes seems easier on pavement to me), probably because grass absorbs shock better and makes you work harder to pick up your feet.

My body felt so good after one lap (it had literally been weeks since my last run due to my lower back injury) that I decided to keep going.  I wasn’t feeling out of breath, nor did I feel like a snail.

I just felt good. Alive. Like I was capable of moving the Earth beneath me.

To be honest, I didn’t want to stop.  I know, though, that I need to ease into the Vibrams, so I slowed down and finished with a walking cool-down and some good stretching.

When I looked at my watch, I realized that – even with a good hill and slowing down – I had just done 1.5 miles in a bit less than 17 minutes.  Really?  I kept an 11-minute-mile pace while feeling like I was taking it easy? I’ll take it!

I got in the car to head home, and by the time I walked up our driveway, I knew I was in for some serious calf soreness.

Holy moly, talk about feeling muscles I never realized existed! By Sunday, my calves were achy in places I couldn’t figure out how to stretch [you know all that lactic acid and tightness you feel after a really intense weight training session?  Multiply that by 3!]  I used a foam roller a few times to loosen them up a bit, but on Monday they were still just as tight.  I decided to take it easy with a low impact workout last night – 45 minutes on the elliptical – and today, my calves just feel strong!  🙂

I can not wait until my next run in Vibrams! I’ll probably keep it at 1.5 miles for a few more weeks, then work up the distance slowly.

Do you have Vibrams? If yes, how was your first run in them?  If no, do you think I’m insane?

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8 thoughts on “My First ‘Barefoot’ Run

  1. wisdomnotes says:

    I own a pair of FiveFingers and wore them almost nonstop last summer–when I wasn’t wearing them, I was usually barefoot 🙂 They definitely take awhile to get used to, but during the first test run, I felt so giddy! They just make your feet feel so happy. Granted, I was pretty sore the next day, but as you build up the miles and, in turn, build up your muscles, the whole experience is totally worthwhile. I also get a lot of strange stares . . . but I think that makes for a great conversation starter! One thing I would recommend is that if you plan to run on the road or sidewalk, get a pair of Injinji toe socks. They are wonderful. Enjoy your Vibrams!

  2. Therese says:

    I keep thinking of getting a pair as I have a “weak” left ankle and think that perhaps it’ll help strengthen my ankle muscles. As for running, though, I’ve never had any injuries in the shoes I wear so I’d probably not use the Vibrams for running but I would for walking about and strengthening my feet!

  3. Heather says:

    I got a pair as a wedding gift, but haven’t worn them that much. You just inspired me to start wearing them and maybe try running in them one day!

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