Last year, I wrote a couple of entries regarding my experience in Vibram Five Fingers. After a year, it seems reasonable to follow up. Besides, for all the razz these shoes generate from the people who require their shoes to look "regular," the therapeutic benefit I have experienced leaves my not giving a rat's ass what other people think about them. Of course, I'm a form follows function kind of guy, and if you need to look good over be good, then you're time is wasted here.
So, here goes.
Towards December, I tried my old sneakers, ASICS, the ones with maybe 30 miles on them, and they were just brutal. The overly cushioned arch support left me piled up on the couch for an afternoon in recovery. Both pair remain in the give away pile. Size 13. You want them? I'll never wear them again.
In late January and early February, I decided to participate in a Tough Mudder event to be held in late October of this year. That gave me nine months to get ready. When I announced this at my yearly physical, the doctor did not prescribe antipsychotics. He discussed physical conditioning. In particular, he told me the walking wouldn't do it. I'd have to run.
He was correct, and I flew to San Diego where I worked a week by the harbor. Warm sun. Light breezes. Flat grassy terrain. I stepped out of the hotel and ran nine miles. This over-activity immediately produced a stress fracture in my fourth metatarsal. Right foot. Six weeks to spend on a bike as it healed.
What a dumbass I can be.
It healed. I started running again. Slowly. Short distances. In April, I was up to a mile. A whole mile. You might recall that it was the that I participated in Rugged Maniac. It was there that I learned just how far I had to go if I were to be ready for Tough Mudder. Yes, I met my limit. I also walked out alive.
More running. Up to four miles. All in Five Fingers. Here comes the Warrior Dash. I didn't hit the wall this time. I also didn't set a land speed record, but I did finish under my own steam.
Then I broke the five-mile barrier in May. Some buds and I also participated in the Ninja Challenge. Still not a land speed record, but we did well, and we did it all together. We skipped across the finish line.
My training runs are all in Five Fingers. I wouldn't have it any other way. The mud races, I've run in minimalist runners. Vivo Barefoot Evo, to be specific. The reason is that I fear losing my my Five Fingers in the deep, sticky mud. Nonetheless, the Five Fingers would be superior on the obstacles, and I see many people out there wearing them.
At this point, my intent is to increase my speed over five miles. I could add distance, but the more intense aerobic workout will pay the greater benefit. I'll also add more upper body and core strength building. It's unlikely that I'll bulk up like the stereotypical body builder as I find that musculature antithetical to my intent. Besides, the aerobic work is where my sanity lies.
And yes, my feet have changed. The arch is stronger. It's sufficient to hold me up, which is what the original design specified. My toes function independently according to what is required to hold me up. There is visible structure in my foot. Yes, they still ache like hell some days, especially after a hard workout, but those days are the exception now.
The weight is not falling off, but it is reducing. About a pound a week. The days I can't run are the days I feel weird. Weirder, as one person reminded me.
All in all, the progression has been a good one. After a decade of indeterminate problems, I'm convinced now that the usual treatments involving heel lifts, arch supports, taping procedures, and custom orthotics only served to make the problems worse. We have thousands of years running barefooted behind us, and only a few decades running in shoes. There's a huge hint there for us all. Perhaps think of that the next time you come home, sit down, and rub your aching feet.
Meanwhile, I need to get going. There's lunch with Lily coming, and that's followed by another five miles. It's going to be a very good day. Besides, m'Lil wears Five Fingers too.