October 13, 2010

Running in my Bikilas: The Purchase

I took up running in May of this year and have enjoyed participating in three charity 5K's. All in all things have gone pretty well. I've developed the discipline of going out for a run before the sun comes up, when every cell in my body begs me not to, and when the humidity is so chokingly thick that even my contacts go on fog alert. I've enjoyed getting into shape and been rather impressed with how this five-decade old body has adapted to the challenge, unfortunately it hasn't all been peaches and cream.

For the most part running has been a positive experience, until a couple of issues with my knees developed, the left issue and the right issue to be exact. I settled the problem with my left knee relatively easily. I wear a strap that stabilized the outer tendon and I'm good to go, but then the right knee felt left out and began dishing out a much sharper debilitating pain. It was so bad during last quarter mile of the Autism run I thought I'd have to walk across the finish line. It hurt like the dickens, giving me a sneaky suspicion it wasn't going to be such a simple fix.

About the time my right knee and I were becoming bosom buddies, dad's health was rapidly declining. Taking care of him during his last few weeks essentially forced me to rest from running, thus giving the knee a chance to heal and restore. An MRI confirmed no major damage, only a little aging and one small cyst. My doctor instructed me to continue training, wear a knee support, and let the pain guide my training. So here I am back on track hoping my body will cooperate with my goals.

With the gut feeling mechanics is the core issue behind each knee's problem, I began doing a little research. One thing led to another and soon I was reading (and hearing) about the benefits of barefoot running. It's all very interesting so I'm giving it a try, only I won't be running totally barefoot. I'll be wearing Vibram Bikilas and blogging as I go.

While these "five-finger" running shoes look silly, they require a hefty dose of patience in the beginning. They are not easy to get on because your body has to learn to maneuver each toe into its own tiny little sleeve. Believe it or not I've heard some folks have taken up to an hour to get them on at first. Once you master the skill of getting them on, your feet, ankles, and leg muscles have to then adapt to running with no support. Even though this is the most natural way to walk and run, it will take a few months to get used to this newfangled footwear. Nonetheless, I believe it's going to be an interesting journey and I invite you to come along for the ride.

So go ahead, live vicariously through my Bikilas and let's see how it goes. I'll do all the "foot work" and you can prop your feet up on the desk and read along. It'll be fun and I look forward to sharing my progress.

Here is what Vibram Bikilas look like.

They look like monkey feet.


Abba's Girl said...

I've never seen those running shoes before. My friends and I did a 5K for Young Life in Aug. We plan on more. I saved my # since it was my 1st 5K.

Praying for you and your family.

Shirley said...

O, I can't wait to hear how you like them. I have seen them and am very curious :)

Cheryl Barker said...

Have never heard of these before, Nancy -- though I stay about as far away from running as possible :) It will be interesting to see how things go for you with this new system. Am wondering how much, if any support, they give and how thick the soles are. Good luck!

About Nancy said...

The soles are a tire tread of sorts and there is no padding but the tread. My next post, on the theory of why these less padded shoes seem to be better, will explain a bit more.