I never thought I will run with barefoot shoes. But here I am writing about my experience with barefoot shoes running over last month or so.
When I ran a marathon last march, my knees were totally inflamed after the first half. So I ended up walking the second half of the marathon. Completed the marathon in total 6 hours 20 minutes! For a recreational runner like me, it is still an achievement.
Though I was intrigued by the level of knee inflammation I had. I asked my fellow runner who was few years older than me after the first half if he had inflammation in his knees. And he said no. That made me even more puzzled.
Fast forward, to one month back. I told one of my friends how my running shoes always worn out at heels on one side. This must make me a heel striker. He suggested that I should try Vibrams barefoot running shoes and that will fix my heel striking issue like right away.
I was sufficiently intrigued so I ordered Vibrams KSO fivefingers shoes from Vibrams website. They cost 85$. They are available on Amazon and probably shipping will be faster with Amazon.
The vibrams sizes are specified in UK scale. I bought size 44 which is equal to US size 10.5. There are scale charts available to help with the selection. It took above a week for them to arrive.
I first took them for a 2 miles run. To my surprise I found that I could run faster in them. These are very light shoes at 5.5 oz each. Also, they hug the feet naturally. Also these shoes are “zero drop” and I believed that is what helps with improved running performance.
However, I found that the back tab of the shoes rub against the back of the heel and causes blister. To deal with it, I used sport tape at back of the heel. My first couple of runs were without socks. But later, I cut the front of the socks and wore those socks on the runs so as to deal with the chafing/rubbing issue.
I have also ordered toe socks for future runs from walmart.
The real discovery I made after I went for a 6.1 miles (10k run) in vibrams. I noticed that my calves were considerably more stiff than previous runs. This means there was more impact on calves. Which implies that there is less impact somewhere else which would be knees! I was thrilled at my discovery.
I don’t have many Newton or Archimedes like Eureka moments in my life. But this one came close. Less impact on my knees during long run is worth a lot to me. So I am willing to put up with extra hassles of barefoot shoes if it means less impact on knees.
The real validation will come next Saturday when I run a half marathon in vibrams. I am expecting considerably less knee inflammation this time. I am also expecting to somewhat improve my last half marathon running time of 2 hour 43 minutes.