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Recent Setbacks & Developments


Monday, I intended to run 5 miles in shoes, but barely made 2.5. Calves and shins. Not good at all. When I stopped, I sat on the curb and tore off my shoes and socks, then streched my calves for a couple minutes. I was about a mile and a half from home if I cut through the neighborhood as opposed to skirting the edges as my intended route had been planned. I stood up, shoes in hand, and began walking home the short route, barefoot. Then I began running slowly, then a little faster, running down the sidewalk until it ended and I had to run in grass, which felt even better! And now I couldn’t feel my calves! The rest of the way home, I alternated about a quarter mile running with a half mile fast walking. At one point, a lady with her dog saw me walking barefoot and commented, “It’s a bit cold for that, don’t you think?” I told her maybe it was, but it still feels better than these, holding up the shoes.

When I reached home, I opened the lid of the trash bin at the curb and tossed those new shoes in with dirty diapers and rotting kitchen rubbish. Running and walking barefoot without pain immediately after running in shoes with pain had more than convinced me of what I already knew. The shoes in the trash was just for show, unfortunately, because for one, they cost $100 and they’re new, and throwing money away is idiotic, though it could be argued that I threw the money away the day I purchased them. And then there’s the other reason, the half marathon, now less than 3 weeks away – not enough time to train barefoot or VFF. Unless I’m just being too chickenshit from reading all the warnings about doing too much too soon without padding and support.

But why all of sudden am I getting the terrible lower leg pain? They are relatively new shoes, yes, but the first few weeks of running in them I didn’t have this problem, just the plantar fasciitis. Upon reviewing the last several weeks of training, I’ve finally deduced two possible reasons.

Firstly, I have been focusing on trying to run using a fore- and midfoot strike as if I was barefoot, which I have been finding overly difficult to accomplish with the big cushioned heel. It seems no matter how hard i try to change the form, that heel still feels like its coming down too hard.

Secondly, I have been running along more busy main streets than I had previously, so instead of running on asphalt side streets through quieter neighborhoods, I’ve been taking to the concrete sidewalks to avoid death by vehicular collision. Concrete is one of the worst surfaces to run on, and though asphalt isn’t the greatest surface either, it’s still slightly softer and more forgiving.

Angry at the shoes from Monday’s run, on Tuesday I slipped on the Five Fingers and went out for a short, post-dusk run, and even stayed on sidewalks for comparitive purposes. I ran a decent 1.5 miles, relaxed pace, with only minor calf awareness, but enough that I didn’t want to run too far in the VFFs. Yes, chickenshit, but it’s better than trying to limp all the way through the approaching race. I also noticed how much lighter I feel running in VFF, that my feet seem to barely hit the ground as opposed to clomping along in the shoes, and from what I’ve read, this is evidence of good barefoot form. My footfalls were so quiet that I inadvertantly snuck up on a man walking his dog the other night – the dog was well aware of my approach but I know I scared the bejeezus out of the guy because he exclaimed something about Jesus Christ as I went around him.

I took Wednesday AND Thursday off, only due to lack of time and opportunity to run, but the calves and shins feel absolutely fine. I’m wondering if I push it (lightly), I could be ready to run the half in VFFs. I plan on running a little more in them this weekend, maybe try 5 or 6 miles and consider the half if it goes well enough.

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