Introduction to minimalist running

I am so glad I finally got up this morning and put on my running shoes. Because not an hour after I got home, it began raining and proceeded to pour for the rest of the day! I felt super happy when I got home this morning – partly because of the perfect weather, and partly because of the double shot americano in my coffee mug.

It strangely warmed up here for the past two days. I went outside and then returned inside to change into shorts! Can you believe it – mid November and shorts. It reminds me of the Postal Service song, Sleeping In:

concerns about the world getting warmer
people thought that they were just being rewarded
for treating others as they’d like to be treated
for obeying stop signs and curing diseases
for mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November

Anyway, the wind was glorious and warm. I love watching the leaves fly across the road.

Last October I had a stress fracture in my second metatarsal. Much to my dismay, this injury had me off running for many months. A number of different people and bits of information I acquired along the way lead me to be interested in minimalist, or sometimes called, barefoot running.

I actually started off doing just that. Running barefoot. The first day I barefoot ran was in the spring living in Cornwall, ON. It had just started to snow so the ground was pretty cold – it was exhilarating anyway. I ran to the end of the street and back… maybe 400 m. I gradually started to increase the distances, and once I was really running again, I would take off my shoes at the end of a run and carry them for the last 500 m. That is what my summer runs looked like.

I finally bought minimalist shoes at the start of October, right before I came back to Ontario.   I did have a gift card that I needed to use, so I thought it was a good time. And they are orange. And…if you didn’t know, orange is the new black! Well… at least it was last year!

The technique is quite different when running barefoot. The most notable differences are landing mid to forefoot (instead of heel striking), a faster turnover and a lighter landing. As you may imagine, this is hard work for the calf – particularly the stress on the Achilles tendon. It is crucial to start slow. My plan is to run with this technique 2-3 days per week for my faster, shorter runs. I have been building my time over the past 6 weeks, adding 1-3 minutes per run.

Today was a milestone. I ran 25 minutes!

Why is this a milestone? A 5-minute kilometre is a pretty comfortable pace for me to maintain for short distances, which means I can likely do a 5 km run in my minimalist shoe!

However, my calves are still sore. The soreness IS less the day after than the first time I ran “on my toes” for any length of time, but still ever present. I think I am going to aim to run 25 min 2-3 days/week until my calves no longer get sore. That’s possible, right?