Over the years I’ve had plenty of foot injuries. Plantar fasciitis has tormented me through many years of running and a heel spur made walking and running pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully my injuries haven’t been acting up lately I think in part because I religiously replace my running shoes after 6 months and use prescription orthodics in all of my running and exercise shoes.
My fascination with barefoot running
I’ve always been facinated by barefoot running. I’ve wondered whether running without all that man-made support in traditional running shoes would cure my foot ailments. When Planet Shoes, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, offered to send me a pair of shoes to test out I jumped at the opportunity to give barefoot shoes a try.
I’ve worked with Planet Shoes in the past and absolutely love this company’s mission. From their eco-friendly selection of shoes and carbon free shipping option to their partnerships with charitable organizations, this company rocks the true meaning of green.
I chose the Merrell Dash Glove barefoot running shoe. Have you seen the Vibram® Five Fingers shoes with 5 toes? These shoes have a Vibram® Sole. I like the look of the Merrell shoes much better than the Vibram® Five Fingers.
Starting off slowly
Everything that I’ve read about barefoot running suggests starting off slowly so your feet have a chance to become accustomed to the barefoot experience. I started off wearing them around the house. They are extremely light and comfortable. The shoes feel very different from my running shoes-there’s very little built in support and I wasn’t using my orthodics.
Next I ventured out on a walk with my new shoes. I have to admit that I missed the extra inch in height my running shoes give me. Barefoot shoes are flat, with no heel whatsoever. The walk went well. My feet and knees felt completely normal.
The gym was next on my list. I went wearing my new barefoot shoes, but not to my usual high impact class. I tested them out in a body conditioning class where there really wasn’t much jumping or running. One person commented that they looked like water shoes, which I hadn’t thought about but they really do.
Running barefoot up next
My next step will be taking these purple and pink pretty shoes out for a run. The Merrell site suggests:
Choose familiar terrain at first. Different types of terrain can affect your training. Steep ups and downs and areas filled with obstacles, like roots or rocks, should be avoided until you’ve built up greater endurance and strength.
After one week in these shoes I’m not completely sold on barefoot running. I’m planning to continue easing into them slowly. My traditional running shoes are still in the rotation and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The good news: I haven’t had any knee pain or foot pain during my transition to these shoes. From all I’ve read it sounds like barefoot running is best on off-road trails. I’m a bit leery about their performance on asphalt, which is where most of my runs take place.
Have you tried barefoot running? Any words of wisdom for us beginners?
Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of shoes, courtesy of PlanetShoes.com, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, from The EcoMom Alliance Sustain YourSelf series. There are a few affiliate links in this post-if you purchase through these links it will place a few pennies in my pocket and help support this blog. Thanks!