There’s a great and extensive new article from Runners World about minimalist shoes and barefoot running. It’s a good read and mirrors my own experiences with Vibram FiveFingers so far:
1. It takes about a month or more to adapt your muscles to the new style.
2. Overall mileage is way down, but speed and intensity is way up.
3. Knee/shin pain disappeared seemingly by magic.
4. 6 months in, my arches are still not strong enough and I have some work to do.
I think the thing missing from the article is that it assumes people will need time to get back to their “weekly mileage”. I have had a different experience altogether. I am running much less, and for maybe 1/3 of the distance I used to per-workout. I am not interested in getting back to “weekly mileage” because my whole approach to running has changed. Because of #2 and #3 above, I can hop out, bust out a 2-mile run at anaerobic threshold, and then do it again later or the next day because I am not needing a week for my knees to heal. I am no longer attempting to replicate a “chronic cardio” approach of running 10 miles at “utilization” pace and then hobbling around for 3 days after. THAT’s the real innovation here!
The big question is how will I do when it starts to snow – stay tuned for that one. My bet is that it will be no problem, because my feet will be working and flexing, which will keep them warm, vs. being frozen stumps immobilized in giant shoes. Ice is another matter altogether…