Monday, August 15, 2011

A Year in Vibram FiveFingers

Previous running
So, as I stated in my last blog, I've been running since April '09. I had my first 5K in September '09 and got the itch for longer distances shortly after that. I decided I'd train for a half marathon (the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg, VA) and even signed on as a charity runner.

Between training for and then actually running it, I put some mileage on my Asics Gel-Pulse and a new pair of Gel-Nimbus 11s that I would wear on race day. I ran in another local 5K with my son and cousin, and then the Broad Street Run (10 miles through Philadelphia). I learned a lot about staying hydrated from that one.

So my big race was here! I was going to finish no matter what, and I was gonna have fun!

Well, I did finish, but all my training didn't prepare me for the hills and the ankle to hip pain I felt. My finish time was 2:33:12.

Barefoot movement
I came home from my first half marathon (and only one so far) and rested a few days while taking short runs a fee days before running 14 miles the next weekend. I also got "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougal on mp3 and listened to it that whole week before running 15 miles the next weekend. I had to try barefoot running. No questions. Why? Because my legs were hurting so bad and I knew running had to be better than this, even at 250+ lbs.

I also got a hold of a ChiRunning DVD and started to learn that running form.

Starting out
This was definitely not an easy task! I attempted to run completely barefoot, in Walmart water shoes (about 1" too big) and then I convinced my accountant (aka the wife) that I needed to abandon my $125, lightly-used, Asics for a pair of these monkey shoes with separate toes.

Well, she agreed and I bought my Vibram FiveFinger Bikilas in July '10. They definitely felt different, but I was ready to run the way we were designed to!

Easing in
So, all the stuff I read, and barefoot converts I talked to, all said "EASE INTO THE VFFs". You know, once a week. Easy mileage. I did. For about three weeks.

I used them and then, on July 31, '10, I got an Achilles injury. I think I was too far forward on my toes while going uphill and probably too much, too soon. That set me back two weeks. But I wasn't giving up. A few more runs in the Asics and then I was back in my VFFs. My last run in Asics was September 3, '10.

I thought about trying "normal" trainers again, but with a short, less than 100 feet, run sometime in October, I instantly felt my ankle landing in a weird way that I knew I didn't want to go back to.

3 Pairs
I finally ordered my third pair, black and orange KSOs in the same size as my first two pairs and they were too tight. So, I took the family to the nearest Road Runner Sports in North Brunswick, NJ and exchanged them for the next size up. While in the store, I also had my gait analyzed, which was cool to see how my feet are landing, how both feet are in the air during turnover and, unfortunately, how my right foot rolls in a little more than my left, and the ball of my left foot lands a little heavier than my right. It sure explains the normal aches and pains I feel during and after runs!

So, after 2 runs in the KSOs, I returned them. They were hurting my Achilles on both feet so bad! Now, as I stated earlier, I'm waiting to get my third pair. Hopefully soon!

Most runners know that you should be able to get 300-500 miles from a pair of trainers, so that should be the same for minimalist shoes too, right? Well, I guess so, but just like regular shoes, it depends on your body mechanics, how your foot lands, or maybe the road grade and how much road running you do.

My Bikilas made it about 280 miles before wearing a hole into the right, outer mid-foot area, around the ball of my foot. I was pissed! I thought I'd get at least 400 miles (or over 1000 as I've read others getting).

I couldn't afford a second pair at the time, and my wife knew I wanted to get another pair for Christmas, so I had to figure something out. I looked online and asked around. The best solution I found: Shoe Goo! This stuff is great! I was able to get about another 20 miles from each application extending the shoe's life another 80+ miles.

As for my TrekSports, I've run over 440 miles before having to put any Shoe Goo on them. Hopefully I can get another 100+ miles out of them.

Now I'm waiting to get a third pair and I hope they last just as long.

As for other issues with stitching and straps, I've not experienced any of that. My VFFs have held up rather well in those areas.

Well, as I stated earlier, I had an Achilles injury, and that was in my Bikilas. My second injury happened, not by fault of the shoes, but more by my stubbornness. And a patch of ice.

I was on a night time run after work right after Christmas of last year. The weather was somewhat warmer in the morning and the snow began to melt. I decided I'd take my brand new TrekSports out for a 6 miler and I was splashing in the slush and dodging the puddles. I was on my way back, right around the 5 mile mark, and I saw a patch of ice. It was too late. My right foot slid right out from under me and I started to fall back. I instinctively put my hand back to break my fall while my knee bent outward and back. I felt AND heard the pop, right from my ankle. It swelled up immediately! I stood and tried to walk a few steps before I then tried to slowly run back to my truck. Nah-nah! Not gonna happen! I stopped at a local shop and sat on their step, then called for a night shift co-worker to pick me up. The funny part was, I work at the county jail, so my co-worker picked me up in a patrol car, and here I am: headlamp, bright green Brooks running jacket, black running tights and FiveFingers, JUMPING into a cop car! It must've been a sight to see!

So, I drove myself home, with severe pain, and got in to start RICE. When I called my doc the next day, she sent me for X-rays and determined it was a severe sprain and I needed to take a week off. I did. And then I was back to running a week later.

After I completed my marathon, I had some soreness on the top of my right foot that lasted almost a month, forcing me to take 19 straight days off. That was killer. I had jog-itch so bad that I was driving everyone around me crazy.

My return to running was May 11, '11, and I've been running everyday since. I started a runstreak that day (running at least 1 mile everyday, and as of this posting, I'm a few days away from 100 straight days, averaging a little over 3 miles per run. And with July being 108.8 miles, I took on a a challenge of running 125 miles in August, just 4.03 miles per day. I know it's not following the 10% rule for the month, but daily mileage has not increased drastically.

If you've come across this blog, I hope it may have helped you with any questions you have had!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

My first blog

Should I be excited? I'm not sure. I've always liked to be able to put my thoughts down, but whenever I did, I was always looking for a comment or a "like". Why? I guess it's the whole social-media thing... Maybe it was my looking to fit in... I'm not sure.

Well, I've gotten to the point that if you don't like me or what I have to say, that's OK. I know who I am, not only as a person and a runner, but more importantly as a follower of Jesus Christ!

Alright, so why "Finally Get It - Runner", you ask? Well, I started running in April of '09 for weight loss and as of this writing, over 2 years later and over 75 lbs lost, I know it needs to be part of my life until I can't do it anymore. There's no "I don't wanna!", not a "the weather sucks!", nor any other excuses, barring hospitalization or severe family emergencies, that will keep me from my asphalt therepy! I always knew running was good for me, but in high school, I didn't like it, in the Marine Corps I hated it, and when I became a corrections officer (at 300 lbs, by the way) I loathed it! I knew I had to do something though. Diabetes runs in the family, and my blood pressure was borderline at 144/82.

I'd tried the magic beans... The eat this, not that... The no carbs, protein only... None of it stuck! I was always hungry! But then I started counting calories in January of '09 and lost 20 lbs by April (when I started running) and knew I had to do more. I started on the treadmill at the gym before lifting weights. It was OK. It wasn't until I got frustrated at work that I let my anger fuel my run. That was it! I finally got it! Not that I had to be angry to run, but running was relaxing! It made sense. Even though it was hard, and sometimes it still is, I finished each run getting stronger and cutting more calories.

So, I had to figure some things out along the way: proper hydration; when to fuel on carbs; do I eat what I burn off to keep the weightloss going; how to run injury free.

I've made a lot of progress, in my opinion, and now as a barefoot/minimalist runner, I am faster than when I started. My recovery time is minimal. I've run a full marathon (5:56:00 slow, but I finished and wasn't last). I'm at the point that I've been running every day since 5/11/11, and I love running! I've come a long way.

Now, my wife is working on her own weightloss, by counting calories and working out, and she's lost 17 lbs since 5/20/11 (I've lost 17 lbs since the same date since we're both eating healthier and I have her to keep me accountable). Maybe I can get her running with me some time in the near future...

Well, if you've read this far, cool! I guess you could leave a comment, but I'm not looking for one. I just wanted to see what it was like to write a blog.