Diamond Dave here; new to barefoot running

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by Diamond Dave, Jun 27, 2017.

  1. Diamond Dave

    Diamond Dave
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    Hi all. Happy to have found this forum. I've been running on and off since I was 16, pretty much injury free. Last summer, at age 44, I started to give some bad knee and hip pain, which the PT said was due to weak glutes. I got Brooks Beast motion control shoes and $200 orthotics. I did exercises. The pain got better, but quickly returned if I ran for any length of time, or on multiple days in a row. Been dealing with since last August.

    Fast-forward to last week. I happened across Born to Run and read it while at the beach. I decided, what the heck, I'll run down the beach barefoot and see what happens.

    It was amazing. No pain. My stride was totally different. Liberating.

    When I got home from vacation, I immediately went to the local high school track and ran three miles around the grass infield barefoot at a decent clip (8:45 mile, not fast, because I was just experimenting). No pain! And my stride was amazing--shorter, landing on the outside of my midfoot and rolling off my toes. No heel striking at all.

    I could have gone much further but stopped, heeding warnings not to do TMTF and hurt myself. I did get blisters on the bottoms of both second toes. But I'm not worried about blisters. Blisters lead to callouses, which lead to "not a problem." What I am worried about is weird hip and knee pain that nothing really helps, and barefoot running doesn't cause that.

    The Merrell Vapor Glove 3s arrived yesterday and are on my feet as I type this.

    There's no turning back. It's barefoot or minimalist shoes from now on!
     
  2. trevize1138

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    Welcome! Heed the warnings of TMTF! It's especially tempting to do so once you kick off those shoes.

    I'm 44 myself and started this whole thing 5 years ago. Your story sounds very, very familiar. I realize now I was able to get away with running heel-first as a teenager in track and XC because, well, I was a teenager. I still got injured back then but it would take months where now in middle age it takes weeks or less.

    Also, keep the faith! I relapsed a few times 5 years ago when first transitioning only to be painfully reminded not to do that. I'm happy to report that over these last 5 years I've been injury free which is all I ever wanted in the first place. On top of that I'm able to run longer miles and am just enjoying it so much more. I also am starting to question a lot of the conventional wisdom about running I'd believed for 40 years. Not only do I no longer associate running with inevitable injury but I don't think of it as "high-impact", at least not like I used to. If I've been lazy all winter and go out for my first run in months I've found I can go as hard and as far as I want and not worry. Probably bad advice to do so but the only negative effects I feel from that now is being extra tired for a few days before I realize I should cut back on the miles until I get in shape again.
     
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  3. Diamond Dave

    Diamond Dave
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    Thanks, trevize1138, for the TMTF advice. I will heed it! I ran about three miles again last night, this time on a rubberized track surface in my Vapor Gloves, and my calves are definitely feeling it! I plan to back off the distance; the past two runs have been more "proof of concept" than anything else.

    The Vapor Gloves feel good. I had a few small blisters but that's to be expected from new shoes of any kind. We have some good local trails and I want to work on toughening up my feet on short distances barefoot.

    I ran the entire three miles with a 180-bpm metronome going in my ear buds. I found the 180-bpm pace challenging for a few minutes, but you settle in and it's really no big deal. I opened up on the backstretch a little and started to learn how to increase my speed without increasing my strikes per minute. My last couple of laps were on the infield grass, and honestly it felt like I was gliding at times. It's not running; it's like dancing.
     
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  4. Barefoot TJ

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    Welcome! :barefoot:
     
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  5. trevize1138

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    On blisters:

    Blisters are caused by friction, of course. Sometimes they can't be helped but a lot of the blisters I got early on running barefoot were because I was needlessly pushing or pawing at the ground. That's why I focus on lifting my feet off the ground, pretending I'm barefoot on hot coals. Side note: don't ever run barefoot on that rubber track. I've heard horror stories about that abrasive surface. I can run just fine on concrete but keep the Vapor Gloves on for the track.

    To really nail that you have to pretend you're lifting your feet off the ground the instant they touch the ground. I know that sounds like a "one hand clapping" bit of nonsense but it's how you trick your body into proper form. Logically, I fought against doing this and all but insisted on pushing back or pawing the ground "because I want to move forward!" Your legs will do that just fine on their own, turns out.

    It really is true that you don't necessarily need tougher feet for barefoot running. Your feet will get more used to it and the skin will thicken over time but the big key is proper form.

    It wasn't until I started focusing on that "hot coals" style that my feet stopped hurting as much and the long miles started to unlock for me whether barefoot or shod. Friday I went out and ran a 1/2 marathon for fun which is the longest non-race distance I've ever done and felt great afterward. I've done a 1/2 marathon race before but that was 5 years ago and I felt just horrible afterward. Running like I'm on hot coals (you can also think of it as sneaking up on someone, marching or prancing) is life! I also ran a 10K race a few weeks ago keeping that in mind, timed a PR and my legs felt fresh the whole time. I had come to expect that 2-3 miles into a 10K my legs turned to concrete and the rest of the race was just pain. I no longer expect that. :)
     
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  6. Kyrrinstoch

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    I found that when using a metronome, _lifting_ my feet on the click instead of landing on it was the most effective method for me to get the whole running on "hot coals" thing trevize1138 mentioned. By raising my knee to be at it's highest point at the click, instead of planting my foot on the click (the "instinctive default"), it encouraged not only proper lifting, but it also encouraged a MUCH softer landing. The end result for me was landing much more softly (regardless of surface), being able to run on rougher surfaces longer and with less discomfort, and the pushing off that was causing me some blisters was completely eliminated.

    I go back to this same "lift on the click" mindset any time I feel my form getting sloppy during a run, and it corrects itself very quickly.
     
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  7. trevize1138

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    I hadn't even thought about counting beat on the knee lift! I'll have to try that next time I feel my form slacking.
     
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  8. Tedlet

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    Welcome DD...
    Nothing wrong with slow and steady :)...
    Enjoy!...
     
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  9. happysongbird

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    Welcome. While it can help to visual a new form, I think the most important thing is to be patient with form and musculoskeletal strength improving. It just takes time, like you can't start using a body part after it has been in a cast for a while. It just doesn't have the strength to do what it was designed to do yet.
     
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  10. Diamond Dave

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    Thanks, all. I ran a couple of miles barefoot on a local trail, grass and that track last night, and some in the vapor gloves. The track was once very springy from a rubber coating that was applied over the asphalt, but it's mostly worn off now. The trail was great except when I encountered rocks, but the dirt was wonderful.

    Anyway, I used the click track again. My calves and feet felt pretty good today. Will probably run again tomorrow, maybe in the morning on a local asphalt bike path, and will try raising the knee on the click instead of planting.

    I did at first find myself planting heavily to the point that I felt I was jarring my head, and I just thought about "run easy" and "run light." If I do kind of "tiptoe" like I'm sneaking up on someone (not landing on my toes, but you know what I mean), all that jarring goes away. It just comes down to being light and easy.
     
  11. trevize1138

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    Ooooooh! You're getting it! Exciting stuff.
     
  12. trevize1138

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    I've been doing this ever since when I feel my feet striking or hitting too hard or if the rocks feel too harsh. Holy crap does it work wonders!
     

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