I drank the Kool-Aid or perhaps in this case chugged it. “I drank the Kool-Aid” is our go to expression anytime someone gets really excited about a new trend. My new trend is “barefoot running”. Okay it is not really running barefoot. Barefoot running is the catch all term used to describe the current running world craze of minimalist footwear. Instead of worrying about how much support running shoes have or if they help you pronate properly, many runners are opting for shoes that look more like ballet slippers than serious running foot wear. I’m not one to take to a trend. I like to let things percolate for a bit (see post about dead coffee maker).
Long story short I like to run yet if I take time away from running to work harvest, manage a B&B or live this crazy gypsy life, I develop horrendous shin splints when I return to running. This past winter while lodged way back in the holler I finally read Born to Run. This anthropology meets physiology meets slight mid-life crisis narrative spoke to me. To runners this is a manifesto. Worlds collide. The concept of ‘how to run’ meets ‘back to nature’ and minimalist footwear is their love child.
Upon our arrival in Portland I scored a cheap pair of Vibraim Five Fingers at an REI returned gear sale. Course I didn’t use them much right off as we were attempting to call Portland, the rainy version of hell, home. But that’s another story. Anyway between Portland and our new home in Bend, I strategically got my toes into their appointed slots and went off on a couple pleasant outings. Soon though there was a coupon to be spent at our local REI in Bend. I went for the Merrell version of barefoot trail runners. These are minimalist but different from the five fingers in that your toes get to cohabit. Happily ever after we have run, we have hiked, we have served up cocktails and unloaded cases of vodka.
I have not known shin pain since moving to Oregon. I’m blown away at how my trail running agility has increased with the Merrells. I’ve always considered myself clumsy and then wisely cautious. But with these lighter, super sensitive shoes I experience the trail with almost a sixth sense of super ajillity. It is surreal. Instead of going airborne and falling flat on my face I now merely have horrific stumbles with summersault potential. Haven’t done a shoulder roll yet as I typically limit the situation to a guttural yell and several yards of stumbling.
P.S. I wrote this post several weeks ago but chose to wait till after I completed the Haulin Aspen Half Marathon to publicly commit to my trendy new scoots. They did great. This was a trail run covering all sorts of terrain. No stumbles. I flew down hills whizzing past more cautious runners. Have some Kool-Aid!