Vibram Five Fingers

I climbed Mount Fuji

Life sure got busy last week—it’s been almost a week since my last post because I haven’t had time to breathe, let alone type…

But there’s lots of ‘good busy’ happening in my life right now. My job in Japan has ended. J and I are only 15 sleeps away from flying back to the U.S. AND we found out last week that we were approved for the apartment we applied for.

Still lots of cleaning, packing, and organizing to do before we move home (and even more once we get home and finally sort through the stuff we own and have forgotten about!).

But, in the meantime, we climbed Mount Fuji this past weekend.

Here’s a video recap of the climb (Spoiler: I hated it!):

 

As you might have noticed from the video, I have gotten Windows Movie Maker cooperating again—I think this will get me motivated to make videos more regularly again! Once we are back home and in a regular routine, I will resume my weigh-in videos.

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Good to be back

Hello friends. After a week-long vacation in Okinawa (the Southern-most islands in Japan), I’m back home and jumping right back into my daily routines.

Okinawa was a lot of fun, but didn’t quite live up the the tropical paradise I had envisioned.

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Nevertheless, I did make it to the beach one day to hang out on the sand. It was still a little too cold for swimming, though. And I got a pedicure. A real one. :)

Today was back to workouts. We did a lot of walking on vacation, which made my feet ache, but I didn’t do any structured workouts. The last time I posted, I mentioned ankle pain and had decided to take a few weeks off. It’s been two weeks and my ankle seems to be feeling okay.

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I went for a really short run this morning (feel are still a bit tired from SO MUCH WALKING) and didn’t notice any pain. Not sure if the lack of pain is from taking time off or not—we got massages while we were on vacation and the masseuse really worked my feet good. I had been struggling with ankle pain earlier that day, but haven’t noticed it again since the massage. Score!

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Something I thought about a bit while we were on vacation and I was taking my running break was the issue of barefoot running. At this point I have two competing desires: I want to become a barefoot runner (via the Vibram Fivefingers) but I also want to train for a fall marathon that I’m registered for. I honestly do not feel I can safely do both. I know my body well enough to know how far I can push it.

At the end of the day the marathon is more important to me. So I’m back in running shoes and going to buy a new pair for when training officially begins in mid-June.

In the meantime, I’m going to begin slowly building some base miles and pray my body holds up well.

Confused, frustrated, and… injured.

Running has been going incredibly well the last 2.5 months when BAM! my ankle starts acting up and it seems I’m injured.

My ankle pain started pretty gradually during a speed workout last week and has continued to hurt every single run since, even after taking a few rest days.

I tried running again yesterday, and struggled through 3.5 miles. They were slow and didn’t feel good at all.

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The pain is behind my left ankle and spreads forward up to the 5th metatarsal bone. After posting on the Runner’s World Barefoot Forum and doing some research of my own, all signs point to Peroneal Tendonitis.

I just dealt with hip tendonitis last year, and know how frustratingly slow tendonitis can be to heal, so I feel like slamming my head into a wall when I think about it. However, I’m only a week past the first signs of injury and I’m stopping activity immediately—hopefully the tendonitis is minimal and I can return to running in a few weeks.

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There are a few possible reasons the tendonitis has developed, but looking back at my mileage from the last month, I can see the problem pretty clearly. I went from comfortably running 4-5 miles a week in Vibram Fivefingers (VFF) to pushing myself to 10-12 miles in VFF. Those miles seemed comfortable, but the progression was too quick for my body and overloaded the tendons. 10 Percent Rule say what?

I do want to note that I didn’t ever push myself to run through any Too Much Too Soon pain… I felt good running this mileage, but my body didn’t tolerate it well.

What now?

My current game plan is to RICE, RICE, baby. Lots of REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, and ELEVATION. I’ve also seen massaging and foam rolling the Peroneal tendons and muscles recommended on nearly every site I’ve read, so I’ll be doing that, too.

Once I’m pain-free, I’ll slowly make my return to running. Will that be in the VFF? I’m still thinking about that… I do LOVE barefoot (mid-foot strike) running, but I also have my eyes set on a fall marathon I’m registered for. Can I safely ramp up my mileage in the VFF for a marathon this year? I don’t know. I may choose to invest in a pair of minimalist (but still slightly-cushioned) training shoes for long runs and stick with the VFF for shorter runs. I’m still thinking about it, but I know the marathon is my priority

I’m heading on vacation next week, so maybe this injury happened at just the right time to slow me down and redirect my focus.

Just a run

Remember yesterday when I felt about the prospect of running today? Yeah, a night of poor sleep sure killed that enthusiasm. But nevertheless, I woke up and ran this morning.

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I think that’s how I know I’m a real runner—even when I don’t actually want to get out the door and run, I still do it and most of the time I try to do it with a smile on my face. Most of the time.

Today was a long run of 4.5 miles and I kept the pace very, very slow to work on my form. Not an earth-shatteringly great run, but it wasn’t bad either. Some runs are just that—runs.

After my run today I had Jeremy take a few videos of my current foot striking with the Vibrams. I was surprised to see I’m landing quite flat footed (rather than on my mid-foot and then letting the heel down gently), so I still have some form work to do.

Here are the videos:

Me running in Vibram Fivefinger Bikilas

I’m ending this week with 12.5 miles and four days of running. My ankle was still a little cantankerous during today’s run, so I’m pulling myself back to only three days of running next week and maybe a little less mileage to see how it feels.

Thank God for rest days

Today I’m feeling very thankful for a rest day.

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Very, very thankful.

Between Wednesday’s speed work, Thursday’s yoga, and yesterday’s “shake out” run my legs are pretty rundown. My hamstrings are so tight they feel like they might snap in two at any moment—which is why my morning started with lots of ragdolls and forward bends.

My ankle has also been very grumpy this week. Not injury-grumpy, but sore and still-adjusting-to-barefoot-running-grumpy, for sure. I’ve been icing it off and on and I’m letting it rest today just to be safe.

I’m planning on 4.5 slow miles tomorrow morning and I’m feeling very excited. I love the place that I’m at with running—where I look forward to weekend long runs and wake up anxious each day that I get to run, wanting to get out the door in the morning and go. I know this puppy love-like feeling won’t last forever and will almost certainly die with the beginning of marathon training, so I continue to feel thankful everyday I wake up and still feel this way.

Taking real rest days (not active rest days) is still tough for me. I love running. I love yoga. I love moving. But some days my body just needs a break. And today is one of those days. Cue back-to-back Grey’s Anatomy episodes and a long bath.

Vibram Five Fingers: 2.5 months review

If you aren’t the least bit interested in barefoot running, this post is not for you.However, if you are like I was and feel very neutral and skeptical about barefoot running and Vibram Five Fingers—this post is for you.

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My friends Christian and Marc run in Vibrams. They both trained for and ran the marathon successfully in Vibrams. Most of our runs together included a conversation or two about how awesome “barefoot” running was—they talked, I listened and rolled my eyes.

Then I read Born To Run and started to feel like some of the stuff Christopher McDougall—okay, and Marc and Christian—was saying made sense. So I put a pair of Vibrams on my Christmas list and (lucky me) Santa delivered.

I’ve been running in Vibram Five Fingers for 2.5 months now and I’m ready to talk about my thoughts—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

The Good:

  • I can tell my posture has changed for the better. I walk straighter and my running form is probably 1,000,000x better.
  • After making the transition, barefoot running feels so natural to me.
  • A well cared for pair of Vibrams will last you much longer than a typical pair of running shoes, since you aren’t worried about losing the cushioning—Marc’s been running in the same pair for well over a year.
  • As a very-injury prone runner, I haven’t had any issues since making the switch. I also haven’t been running high mileage, so take that as you will.

The Bad:

  • Making the transition to “barefoot” running doesn’t happen overnight if you want to stay injury-free. If you’re currently running high mileage and are committed to continuing to do so, now is probably not the time to switch to Vibrams.
  • Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the “fingers.” I’ve never loved wearing toe-socks and the Five Fingers are basically glorified toe socks.
  • If you insist on wearing socks with them (and I do—I tried a sockless run and ended up blistered), expect to shell out about $12 a pair. Ouch.
  • Running in the rain sucks. The Five Fingers soak entirely through very easily, but they also seem to dry quickly… so there’s that, too.

Everything Else:

Now that I’ve made the transition from conventional running shoes to “barefoot,” I don’t see myself going back. The first few weeks were rough—your foot muscles need time to build up strength so you don’t get injured—and awkward as I tried to figure out whether I was doing everything right. But gradually I adapted and landing on my mid-foot began to feel natural.

I’m incredibly glad I decided to make the switch, but I don’t plan on buying another pair of Five Fingers… after this pair is done (whenever that may be) I’d like to try out some Merrell barefoot shoes. Same concept, just without the toe slots, which means I can wear whatever socks I please.