Ok, so as I stated in my last post, I had bought a pair of Merrell’s Pace Gloves as my first pair of minimalist running shoes. The reason I went with them was one, I thought the VFF’s just looked ridiculous and two, I had bought previous pairs of Merrell brand shoes before so it felt like a safe choice.
All and all, I really liked them. They were a great way to start into minimalist running. They have a nice open toe box, breathable mesh upper, and were super flexible. I thought when trying them on, that the sizing would be different, but the girl at REI suggested to get them in the same size as my current (Mizuno) running shoes. After trying them on, and running around in the store a couple times, I was sold. The girl at REI also suggested, that if I was going to wear socks with them, to purchase the Injinji brand of “toe socks”. She said by wearing the toe socks inside the open toe box of the Pace Gloves, it would help my toes to further spread apart.
(Injinji Original Mini-Crew Gray)
I was so excited to have my first pair of minimalist shoes and even more excited that my toes each had their very own little “blanket” to be in, inside of them! I must say that wearing the Injinji’s did help with acclimating my toes to the idea of being free to spread apart inside or out of a shoe. What I have learned (especially 7 months later) is that, the more your toes have room to spread apart, the better balance you have and the better grip you have either running or walking.
I started off super slow learning (or should I say re-learning) how to run in minimalist shoes for the first time. Amazingly there isn’t too much to learn. Your body will naturally want to correct its form and run with a more natural gate. I found myself with better posture and a smaller stride right away without even thinking about it. And heel striking will be a thing of the past as well! Without that huge lump of foam under your heel your body will automatically want you to land on your mid-foot. But you do have to start super, super slow!
I learned the hard way that if you try to push yourself too fast, you will experience pain. I mean your foot has most likely been in a conforming, toe crunching, laced too tight, shoe for most of it’s life. Now you have given it space to expand and feel the ground beneath it. So you will have awakened all the little bones and muscles (most of which you never even knew you had)! Your legs will also need time to adjust. Mainly my calves were sore right away. Your mid-foot strike will allow your foot to work with your legs more naturally like a spring. Therefore activating your calf muscles to work harder, the way they were intended to. But you know what they say “no pain, no gain”.
So, even though I started by only running .5 of a mile a day, I did experience pain. I had top of the foot pain, ball of the foot pain, as well as heel pain. Each area of pain came separately from the other. I felt like it was just my foot’s way of recalibrating itself. So when you read in books or on other blogs or magazines, to take it slow, LISTEN! You don’t want to over due it and have to put yourself out by taking time to recover.
Of course, like I’m sure you won’t either, I didn’t listen! I was frustrated that I went from running 3 miles at a time to only .5 of a mile. So I pushed myself to a mile and 1.5 miles too soon and the foot gods came down and punished me for it. I could barely walk for over two weeks because I had sever top of the foot pain. I even went to my chiropractor and had an x-ray just to make sure I didn’t have a stress fracture. Luckily for me, the x-ray came back in my favor, no stress fracture, but I did have to take time off from running (or even walking) and then had to start all over again! Ugh.
After about three weeks off from running, I started over, vert slow, and made progress. I also started to wear my Pace Gloves to work as well. I work in a warehouse and am walking and getting in and out of trucks all day. When I would wear normal gym shoes to work (with awful squishy heels and padding) I noticed my feet hurt even more! They were searching for the nice feel of the hard, stable ground and all they felt was uneven squishiness. Going back and forth from work shoes to my minimalist shoe was not working for me. Once I started wearing the minimalist shoes all the time, whether at work or not, the pain eventually went away all together. Which led me to buy my next pair of Merrell’s, the Trane Contour Glove in Black.
(Merrell Barefoot Trane Contour Glove Black)
The Trane Contour Glove was a great work shoe for me. Unlike the Pace Glove, which is made of an extremely breathable mesh, the Trane Contour Glove has a leather upper and allows for your feet to feel little more safe from the elements (cold temps and water). They still have a wide toe box and the same fit as the running shoes. Also, I forgot to mention that all of Merrell’s Barefoot line has a very durable Vibram 4mm sole.
So now I had my running shoes and my work shoes. But the best was yet to come. Within a week of buying my Trane Contour’s I decided that I wanted a shoe that I could wear on the weekends or just whenever I needed something to walk around town in. Here enters in my first pair of Vibram Five Fingers (one of the best footwear purchases I ever made)!
Introducing my Vibram Five Finger KSO Trek’s in Brown kangaroo leather.