I had been a shoed runner for about 4 years. I have been a minimalist runner for 7 months, and I would never go back to running in “normal” shoes again.
I’m sure my chiropractor will miss me. Before I started minimalist running, I would go to my chiropractor at least twice a month and at my worst, twice a week! I suffered from lower back pain and knee pain. My chiropractor would tell me time and time again, “maybe you shouldn’t be a runner”. Not be a runner? What? I had found something that I really loved and looked forward to doing (almost as a form of therapy) and now I was being told that I shouldn’t do it? Well I didn’t listen. I also continued running in my Mizuno Wave Inspires and therefore continued to have pain.
I was fitted with my Mizuno’s at a local running store. They had me run all around the store and then came to the conclusion that I “overpronated” when I ran. They had me try on all different kinds of shoes that would help with the overpronation. Well, I figured, if the guy that worked at the running store said that I needed a shoe for overpronation, then it must be true. So, I took his advice and bought my first pair of expensive, fitted for me, running shoes. These were my first pair of running shoes that I bought that weren’t chosen for their style or color. In fact, I thought they were ugly and I hated the sea foam green color that they were. But running store guy said that they would help me run better, run more naturally.
(Not actual sea foam green one’s, but the same style just newer)
Run more naturally. That’s interesting. How could I run more naturally in a shoe that gave my heel a 2 inch lift and lined my whole foot with a squishy platform?? Back then, that made perfect sense to me. I mean if you’re going to run, and be going from heel to toe, then of course you would want all that extra padding, right? (Well not exactly but we’ll get to that later.)
See part of the reason my chiropractor was trying to steer me away from running, was because running was hard on your joints. Makes sense, I thought. I mean running is a high impact sport when you are going from heel to toe. As soon as your heel hits the ground it sends a shock wave up your leg and into you knees, hips and lower back, sometimes even affecting your neck.
So I had my new shoes and I continued to run. I got faster and started running in some local 5k’s. I was proud of myself. I had found a sport that I could enjoy just about anywhere. It was a good tool to use as a cross trainer for the Tang Soo Do I was also doing at the time. And it made me feel good mentally. When I ran, I could clear my mind and feel free. Free from work, family, bills, and every thing else that came with everyday life. But still not free from pain. Ugh!
I eventually ran some more 5k’s and even did my first 10k. But the pain started to become more and more of a hassle and I started to cut back. I kept going to see my chiropractor and after I had been fitted with a heel insert (for my anatomically shorter leg) I had just about stopped running all together. I started to feel better. Less pain, less visits to the chiropractor. That was good I suppose, but I started to miss what I loved.
More time went by with less and less running. One day, I had a co-worker, whom had just started running, start to ask me if I had ever thought about running barefoot or in those crazy looking toe shoes? We got to talking and I told him I really didn’t know a whole lot about barefoot running or toe shoes. That day, he set a fire in me. That afternoon I googled, “toe shoes” and learned all about Vibram Five Fingers and minimalist running for the first time.
It was a lot to take in. I mean just thinking about running without the padding of a traditional shoe made me think “ouch”! But the more I read the more I learned that the effect of barefoot/minimal running was the exact opposite. It was the natural way to run. The “greener way of running” in a sense. So I eventually drove myself to my local REI store and tried on a few different pairs of minimalist running shoes. I tried on the Vibram Five Fingers as well as Merrell’s Pace Glove. Mentally, I couldn’t get past how goofy the VFF’s looked, so I settled with the Merrell’s. And so started my journey down the road (literally feeling every little rock and crack in that road) of minimalist running.
(Merrell Pace Glove’s in Dark Shadow color)