Running is, hands down, supposed to be one of the single best exercise for the whole body. In my experience it’s a slow death. But, having said that I endeavor to run, and it endeavors to kill me.
I don’t understand why, but I have never been much good at running. In the animal world I would not be a running type of animal. If there was an animal that knew how to operate a TV remove and order pizza, yeah, that would be me. But it annoyed me when I’d see people who looked like they should be in one of those motorized 3 wheels scooters and yet there they were pounding along the park just rubbing it in. My puzzlement at being such a sucky runner was answered when a couple of things came together and I believe I found the answer.
I saw a work-mate who was wearing the strangest, coolest, geekiest things on his feet. I know, right?
Short story, they’re called Five Fingers and they’re made by Vibram. He told me how he’d come across them and they were based on the mechianics of the human foot. Instead of locking the toes together and restricting the foot from flexing over objects, this allowed the foot to work the way it was intended. While I was enthralled, I was also skeptical. Then I came across this article and soon found others.
They all said the same thing. Running shoes are not the way we’re built to run. I had to know for myself. After a lot of reading, watching videos, and talking to others I got a pair.
I was so excited when they arrived and couldn’t wait to try them out. By the way, getting them on takes practice. The big day came and I saddled… uh… Five Fingered up. Though you can get socks made for them, many people say they don’t need them. I can’t begin to tell you how odd it felt with them on, but odd in a very cool kind of way.
Once at the park I turned my nose up at the paved bike path and let my feet run on the wild side, i.e, grass. The first mile was over in no time and I realized that instead of running heel-toe, I was landing more towards the ball of my foot. The fatigue I always feel in my thighs wasn’t there. I was using more of my calves and glutes than my thighs. By the second mile I was smiling and even laughed because although I was starting to breath harder it wasn’t the kind of gasping as deaths door I normally experience. I was experiencing running in a way I’d never known. It was almost, almost mind you, effortless.
But, as I neared the third mile I was becoming aware that something wasn’t right. I could feel the beginnings of friction on the outside edges of the balls of my feet. In true fashion I ignored it. In true fashion it got worse.
What I didn’t know, and what makes no sense AT ALL is that Vibram made these with a tiny seam right where I was feeling it. I decided to push through it. After all, how bad could it really be? Oh, about this bad. I’m pretty head strong but even I have limits and I couldn’t push past the pain anymore. I stopped and pulled them off. It was a painful lesson and I had another mile and a half of hobbling back to my car to dwell on it.
But there’s a giant difference between a set-back and defeat. I knew what I needed to do, besides heal, and that was to pick up a tried and trusted friend. This stuff saved my poor feet on many a hike and I knew it would do the same now.
It was a while before my feet were fully operational and a while longer before I felt like running again. In fact it was a long darn time.
You know how it’s so much easier to catch up on last weeks episode of 24, talk to a friend on the phone, play a video game, anything but run? Yeah, I’m the same way. But you know what happened? My friend, David, fell in love. Oh crap! Next thing you know he’s eating healthy. Mark and I are chowing down on some fine American processed food and David’s sending pictures of a plate of rabbit food he calls a snack. On top of that he’s telling me how he’s running. I was almost able to ignore it until… he tells me he’s lost six pounds. Double crap!!
Now I have to run. I can’t sit around while he gets all healthy and struts around while I feel like a bloated sack of protoplasm. So, today I bit the bullet. After work I came home, put some moleskin on my feet, donned my Five Fingers, and headed out to the park.
The plan was to run around the park, which looked like about a quarter mile from the road. If I started to find another sore spot I didn’t want to be far from the car. As it turned out there was a whole lot more park than I realized. I used the GPS tracking app on my iPhone and took off. The blue line is the actual path I ran as I was monitored from satellites orbiting the Earth. Honestly, does the coolness factor never end? As you can see I cut a corners because, lets face it, I was fricken tired!
I did over two miles which I wasn’t expecting to do, but you know what? hehe, that’s right, no blisters. The Moleskin saved my feet. Now if only they made Moleskin for my calf muscles. And once again my thighs are untouched by the running.
Oh sure, I’ll be hobbling tomorrow, but in my twisted logic I’ll be hobbling for all the right reasons. No blisters. Not sore thighs. And I get to give David the ‘ha ha I’m running too’ smug smile.