I have finally found time in my work schedule to post about our first two races. My experience has been somewhat different from Jon’s. I started my barefoot/minimalist shoe running in January. Now, this is not a lot of time to build up the muscles in your feet which have been dormant for years of shoe wearing (considering my first race was in March). Even with the little time I had in Vibrams Five Fingers leading up to the Running of the Green, I still decided to run the 4 mile road race in my KSO’s.
The day was cold and my feet felt stiff. When changing over from shoes to minimalist footwear, you have to “let go” of a few things, chief among them, your previous mile splits. So shivering and stiff I set out and hit mile one 10 minutes in. This is a slow split for me, and I had to remind myself that it will take time to get back to 8:30-9:00 minute miles barefoot. I was able to pick up my pace and finish well under 40 minutes. At the end I had one realization, walking/running in January, February, and 1/2 of March was not enough practice in VFF’s to comfortably run 4 miles. My form fell apart as I ran the last 1/2 mile. If you ever make the transition to minimalist shoes GO SLOW! It will take time for your feet to adjust. Listen to your feet and your body!
The Parker 5k trail run was a bright spot at the end of a rather dismal winter. Two weeks before this run, Jon and I did a 6 mile run in VFF’s and I ran as much of it on grass as I could. Now… this brings out that feeling of being a kid again, running through the grass in the summer, and I over did it. I picked up my pace way to much for the last mile and ended up with a pain in my heel for a week. I decided to run Parker in Nike’s. This was a brand new race. The field was small, it consisted of serious trail runners, and newbies to running in general, let alone trail running. Right before they sent us off on a technically challenging course, the announcer said “more than one of you will fall.” Well, at least two people did, and they did so right in front of me. This was through beautiful woods, with bridges and streams, and lots of rock. Now, you are thinking “good thing you weren’t in VFF’s or the rocks would hurt”. No, actually the opposite. When you are in minimal shoes your feet instantly respond to the terrain under you, you step lightly and are very aware of your surroundings. Because I was in Nike’s I rolled my ankle because I could not feel the ground below me. However, even in Nike’s, this was the best run I have ever been on. The beauty of the woods, and running on something other than concrete was enough to sell me on trail running for life.
So long story short… I have learned two things from my first two races in our year of runs.
(1) Do not rush your transition to minimalist shoes. Listen to your feet, they are your guide. They will tell you when enough is enough.
(2) Trail running is in all ways superior to road running, and although I will always run roads, my main goal moving forward is to become a miniamalist trail runner.
OK, so this leads to one last thing. My next shoe purchase will be the Merrell Pace Glove (trail minimalist shoe), get to know it!