Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why I will NEVER wear a tradtional running shoe again!

I am a skeptic because I am ALWAYS that guy. If something works for 99.9 percent of the population, I have come to accept chances are I am the 0.1 percent that it wont work for. I have had two running related injuries. Plantar Fasciitis and a patella tracking issues in my left knee. Both have cause pain while running. The knee issue was almost a deal breaker for me.

I heard about these guys running barefoot and how it has totally eliminated their running related injuries. One was from a Facebook friend Tim Ferrell. I have never met Tim but he has become an awesome friend. He did Ironman Cozumel last year and has answered questions for me when I had no one else to ask. One day I was checking out his Facebook Ironman Cozumel pics and saw he was wearing Five Fingers ( the barefoot running alternative shoe). I asked him about it and he stated they have helped him overcome his running related injuries. Good for you (but it wouldn’t work for me). Don’t forget... I’m the 0.1 percent the running barefoot won’t work for.

Another lady in my running group wears them and when I first saw them I, like most people, couldn’t come up with wise cracks fast enough! They honestly look bordered cool-looking and absolutely ridiculous! She also swore by them. I also came across a few reviews online and people were talking about how Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) have changed their running for the better.

Prior to Ironman New Orleans, I had a huge issue with pain in my left knee. After about 200 dollars in co-pays to a chiropractor, I was running pain free in New Orleans. I decided that paying 200 dollars again was just not something I was looking forward to doing again. I decided to buy the VFF Bikila model. The VFF Bikila is their run-specific barefoot alternative running shoe. It looks and feels like the VFF KSO but adds a little more traction on the sole of the shoe. (by the way, after a month with my five fingers I bought a second pair to walk around in. that's right you guessed it! The VFF KSO-pronounced "kay-so")
After the first week of wearing the barefoot running shoes (didn’t run in them the first week just walked…a LOT). I decided I was going to read the book that really ignited the barefoot running rage; “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall. This book was an inspiring, well written book. I believe every runner should read this book even if you don’t subscribe to the barefoot running philosophy. This book has done for my running, what the Bible has done for my life. It changed everything I thought about running. EVERYTHING!
I felt like this book freed me. Do you remember the movie Matrix. Neo thought he was living in the “real world” only to find out he had been lied to. He was living in the Matrix. A digitally created world. Then he is freed by Morpheus. When Neo is brought into the real world he opens his eyes and asks Morpheus,

"Why do my eyes hurt?”

“Because you haven’t used them before”

That is exactly how I felt after I wore the VFFs the first day. The muscles around my ankles were sore. Not like a painful hurt but more like they had a good workout. The same way you feel when you have a good workout at the gym.

I didn’t understand why they were sore until I read the book “Born to Run” Those muscles were sore because like NEO I thought I was using them when I walked. The truth is..."I never used them before" because my shoes kept those muscles from engaging. Read the book it is a great read. You will understand what I am talking about after you read it.

Ok, why I wont wear traditional running shoes ever again! The trick to wearing these shoes is you have to build mileage. You cant go out one day and do even a 5k in these shoes. You have to build the muscles and tendons in your feet in order to take the impacts of running barefoot (or running in VFF’s).

Having said that, I had an 8 mile run scheduled. I had been running in these shoes for about 4 weeks at the time but wasn’t even close to running 8 miles in the Five Fingers. So, after some good advice, I ran in my old running shoes. After the first mile, the first mile of running in these traditional shoes, I was starting to feel a familiar pain...pain in my left knee! The FIRST mile! It took ONE mile before I was feeling pain. Today, after a six mile run in the VFFs...NO PAIN!

Another huge difference I noticed was my running shoes make it comfortable to heel strike which is likely causing my running issues. The VFFs force me to mid-foot strike which is a lot easier on the entire body. Watch the video below. Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman explains a little more than I can in this video. Dr. Lieberman is talked about quite a bit in the book.

So, it seems that for now, I am not the 0.1 percent. Good luck and read the book!


  1. That's great Hassan! I too have had numerous running related injuries since starting to up the mileage last year for IM and marathon training. I've always had patella issues, but then my hips and then plantar and then IT....ACK! Anyway, I found yoga and stretching helped a ton, but your are right on about the barefoot running, the less supportive the shoe for me, the less pain! Go figure! I even chucked out my orthotics. I've found some great shoes that have worked well, but am very curious about your adventures in the 5 fingers - great for training to keep the knees and other body parts happy and stay pain free for race day. By the way, I'm not into chicking dudes who are out there busting their ass to do their own race and enjoy the day :) It's only fun to dust dudes who simply can't handle chicks that are faster. If I see you out there on the course we will pump each other up and we can both chick some dudes! Well, you can dude some dudes, damn, we gotta come up with a better term for that lol.

  2. 成功多屬於那些很快做出決定,卻又不輕易變更的人。而失敗也經常屬於那些很難做出決定,卻又經常變更的人.................................................................

  3. I love the idea of barefoot running, but I don't think I'll try it until after IMAZ this year. I've been lucky enough to avoid foot and knee problems and I don't really want to try to adjust anything this close to my first Ironman. I love all the feedback on the VFF shoes.