It Feels a Little Like Joining a Cult

Since I already have issues with my SI joint and my tailbone, the number one concern for me with running is avoiding more injuries. I’ve started and stopped Couch-to-5K several times in the past- once was pure laziness, all the other times were due to my hip. Each time I read books on running form and watched YouTube videos on proper technique. I know all about heel striking (don’t do it) and about not rocking side to side, and how to hold your hands (not in tightly clenched, desperate fists). The final piece of the puzzle was to find some shoes.

So, Christmas 2009 I told my mother the only thing I wanted was running shoes. Bobby and I went to a local athletic store, they watched me walk, they ordered me to run and jump, they measured my feet, and they confidently presented me with a pair of Saucony running shoes. I thought they felt a bit bulky, and I had a few questions about some of the lighter, more low profile shoes, but Mr. Athletic Store told me I needed a lot of support since I was getting started into running. After that I could move into the more flexible, light, low profile running shoes. Of course we all know that I never did much running in those shoes- they became my gym shoe that I wore to lift weights, or to do Spinning in, and I wore them when I cycled, and they probably got the most use as my camping/hiking shoe. I kind of felt bad for denying them their running shoe destiny. Recently they went with me to Ecuador and Peru, and were my sole shoe (no pun intended) for hiking all over the Galapagos Islands and climbing Machu Picchu mountain. Over the last year they’ve gotten a lot of wear, despite seeing very little running action, so I decided that this time around I would go with a low profile, light weight, flexible shoe…

And last week, I walked out of REI with these. The Bikila LS, specially designed for running.

That’s right, I’m now one of those people who own Vibrams. And I will soon be one of those people who runs in them. But try as I might, after all the reading I’ve done, I really can’t deny that being as close to barefoot as possible is probably the best way to prevent injury. I think this will work well because everything I’ve read advises to start off very slowly when transitioning to barefoot running, and if ANYTHING in this world is “starting off slowly” it’s the Couch-to-5K program. I mean, the first week all three workouts are only 20 minutes, and they consist of alternating 60 seconds of jogging with 90 seconds of walking. If I start off any slower than that, I’ll be mall walking. I’ll also be running inside on a treadmill. Now, don’t get me wrong, you’re not going to see me running barefoot down a gravelly path outside in -20 degree weather training for a marathon anytime soon, but I do feel comfortable with the choice to run in the Bikilas on a treadmill inside.

As to the shoes themselves, I have to say that I love the way they feel. I have creeptastic long toes with freaky dexterity, and I slid them on as easily as I would a regular old sock. The woman at REI got bug eyed and exclaimed “WHOA! You just slid those right on! How did you do that? I’ve seen grown men cursing and sweating, shucking off their jackets as they get overheated trying to wrangle their toes into Vibrams”. I credit yoga for that, which is also probably why I like the Vibrams- it really does feel like I’m barefoot. Even if I hate them for running, they will definitely become my new summer/water shoe.



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