20 Minimalist Runs in and Gaining Traction

20_minimalistLast week I completed my 20th run without conventional shoes. I’ve been making the transition to minimalist running and to say it hasn’t been easy is a little bit of an understatement. I might go as far as to say that my moral fiber has been put to the test. I started the journey on April 23 using Vibram five-fingers and pretty much up until July, I was plagued with minor injuries and much discomfort. The discomfort I can handle—I knew there would be sore feet, calves, achilles, etc.—but my left calf muscle was swear-out-loud painful on and off through May and June, which kept me from making real progress.

I worked through the calf thing and for whatever reason, maybe shear perseverance and a lot of stretching, I began to hit a sort of stride in July with no more calf pain. I completed 9 runs, slowly (and finally!) ramping up from 0.7mi to just over 1.5mi by the end of the month. I took a week off while on vacation, but was able to run three times a week for the other three weeks. At the beginning of the month I did have a bit of soreness in both achilles for the first 0.5mi of each run, but last week, that pain pretty much went away. (I think rest in between runs and toe raises with a slow descent helped with that.) With smoother sailing I was able to get a little closer to my old mile times, getting down to an average of 7’45″/mi.

So the journey continues. I’ve learned to really just take it one run at a time and not try and get too amped up. I made good progress in July and I don’t want to lose that by injuring myself on one over-zealous run. I’m continuing to focus on mechanics and basically play with my form and technique, always shooting for what feels good and right to me. As I learned right off the bat, this transition has mirrored some other life-lessons I’ve had and continues to be much more than “just running without shoes.”