Why I chose to go minimal

Blog entry posted by vibramchic, Oct 15, 2010.

I started running 3 years ago, like many people, to lose some serious weight gain after having my daughter. I read everything on running I could get my hands on, listening to the advice that my feet needed "help" and the running shoe companies had the answer in stability running shoes. I bought pair after pair, thinking "This will be the perfect shoe this time" but nothing worked.

After a year I developed plantar fasciitis in both heels. I went to physiotherapists to fix it. They all thought my shoes were fine, I just needed to run on softer surfaces, do certain exercises, reduce my mileage, etc.. I always did what they advised, and their advice would help-for a little while. Eventually the issues would crop up again and I'd be back looking at shoes that would have enough cushion to fix my pain.

Then, this past June I looked down at my bare feet and saw a bunion. I was freaked out by this ugly bump, but figured it had probably been the result of my increased mileage as I had just run my first marathon in May. "This is what happens if I run over 50k a week?" I thought. My dreams of someday running an ultramarathon were quickly fading. So I looked up the cause of bunions online and everywhere I looked the cause was the same; shoes. In countries where people wear shoes for very small periods of time, or not at all bunions are not an issue. Huh. That got me thinking. Maybe what I should have been looking for all along wasn't more cushioning, it was less. I looked up the Nike Frees, andthe old canvas shoes people used to run in, but I realized these are still shoes. I wanted to be able to run in something as close to barefoot as possible.

That's when I remembered from Born to Run, Barefoot Ted wearing his VFFs. I checked them out online and decided to buy a pair. I figured, at the very least, they would make really cool gardening shoes.

That first run changed my life and my running. In three steps I felt like I had evolved-literally-from homobent-over to homo erectus. I was standing taller, my feet were landing almost under my hips, I was taking much shorter strides and...it didn't hurt. I ran for only 3k that first day and took another day off after, but I haven't been back to running shoes since July of this year. Now I'm back up to my mileage I had previous to starting my VFF/barefoot adventure.

One day, at the end of a run in my VFFs I thought, "Well, if I can run in VFFs, I wonder how running barefoot would feel?" So off came the VFFs and off I went for about a half mile. My feet got a little hot, and when I put my VFFs back on they felt like slippers, but I was elated that I had been able to just do it. Now I run about 80% VFF and 20% barefoot. I hope to make that more of an even split over the winter and hopefully do a few barefoot races this next summer. Oh and my bunion-it's alot smaller now and my plantar fasciitis-that's history. My wallet is happier that I don't shell out a hundred bucks every 3-6 months and I no longer need to visit the physiotherapist. My only question is-why doesn't everybody do this? ;-)