I've been wearing my Vibram KSO's for about three months now and have been running in them that entire time. However, I really have struggled being able to to run on cement with them for any long period of time. On the treadmill, I don't have any problems anymore now that my muscles are used to it; however, I can't go longer than 20-30 minutes on the road. I wish I could find nice grass, but that's just not gonna happen where I live. Now that it's nice and sunny again, I want to run outside, but the pain really keeps me doing it. Any suggestions? Is this a common problem?
Are you heel-striking? A lot of us do it while running simply because it's the kinesiology we learned as thick-soled-shoe-wearing infants. We were forced to adapt this awkward gait because of constrained anatomy. Evolutionarily, our feet were designed to heel-strike while walking, mid-foot strike while jogging, and basically toe-strike while running/sprinting -- a pattern of shifting strike location as speed increases.
Heel-striking only "works" (and poorly so) while running in thick-soled shoes. Once you go minimal/bare-foot, you have to start abiding by the rules of your new shoes or lack thereof, namely that your heels are made for walkin', and that's just all they do.
Barefoot running is weird in the same way a squat is weird; it's a natural movement pattern that became irrelevant in the modern world, thus we lost the neuromuscular memory to do so. To do it successfully, you have to lean forward from the hips a bit, keep the arms drawn in and relaxed, and actually do a "controlled fall" as heel-strike running is so inaccurately named (really, heel-striking is active pushing, not controlled falling). The lean-forward at the hips is essential. If you lift a leg out in front of you and lean forward at the hips, you'll fall; this is the efficient, natural force you'll control to move, not active thrusting of your legs into the ground that gives everyone hyperextended muscles all over the leg, mostly hamstrings and tibial muscles. The gait is very "backwards" relative to what we're used to. Striking at the ball of the foot, then rolling backwards until the heel just kisses the ground before the other foot's ball strikes the ground will feel like moonwalking at first, but it becomes natural quickly (surprise!), and these sprints are effortless and soooo exhilarating.
If you have pain, you're probably still doing the heel-strike type motion that hyperextends rather than the falling-type motion that barefoot HGs and even Olympic sprinters from the 1960s and before do.
A bit rambly, sorry.
Anyway, I just bought "Barefoot Running" by Sanders on amazon. I can't say anything about it yet since it's still on the way, but it may be worth checking out yourself.
I'd consider it a blessing in disguise. Don't run more than 20-30 minutes at a time! There are much more fun ways to explore masochism -- no need to spend too much time running.
I think the beautiful thing about barefoot running is that your body is really good at telling you you've had enough. So listen to your body, and build the distance slowly. Very slowly.
Apart from that, you could slow down a little and make sure your stride is relatively short. This will also help ensure you're not landing on your heal, but your forefoot.
Mind you, if you are heal striking I doubt you could manage anything close to 20 minutes, at least not more than once. It hurts too much!
It took me a lot longer than 3 months to build up the muscular endurance in my calves to run properly in Vibrams more than a mile or so. Now I've got no problem running 4-5 miles at a stretch. I just ran a 5k in them yesterday, in fact.
You really need to make sure you're not heel striking, as becker says above.
For more self-education, google chi running or pose running.
I tried working with the VFFs for distances greater than 5K on both dirt and cement/asphalt and it just never worked for me and I've had previous training in POSE and consciously practice POSE whenever I run. I don't know, perhaps at the age of 47, my old feet just need more padding or perhaps the toe separation didn't agree with me. Most VFF users I know say there's generally a six month adjustment period. Personally, I would say if it doesn't get better with the VFFs after six months, then find a different shoe for your longer distances or cement/asphalt runs.
I've switched to the New Balance Minimus and so far they're working better for me on shorter runs on cement/asphalt. I've yet to try them on longer runs though.
I've been a runner for 15 years and a "minimalist" runner for the past 4 years. My take: Vibrams are great for trail or off-road running, but horrible on concrete / asfalt. (Not sure why, but feels very awkward). I would recommend getting a good racing or XC flat instead, as they offer a much smoother ride on the road. A couple of good options are the Brooks "Mach" series (10, 11, or 12, etc.) or the Saucony Kilkeny.
I guess it varies based on you gait. I was able to transition from Nike frees in about a month and could tell the difference on the first step. My body knew the difference. If you have a hard time, try a few strides completely barefoot on the cement. You're body should adjust. I run 30-60 miles a week full time in VFF Bikilas, all on cement or asphalt.
Try keeping your vision level stable. Most people seem to bounce up and down, which I think is as bad of a mistake as heel-striking. Here's an example of somebody who doesn't bounce up and down. Watch how level his shoulders stay, especially from 0:49 to 0:53.
I don't have vibrams. However, I do sprint barefoot...a happy accident when my running shoes suffered a blowout at the track. I took them off and got in the grass to did my sprint 8 routine. No problems at all from barefoot running. This did get me interested in vibrams and when I can actually justify spending a hundred bucks to my thrifty side on what looks like thick socks...I'm going to get some. So far, from my understanding after talking to others who do run in them, if you are running in vibrams on pavement or cement instead of in the grass like I have to do for my barefoot sprints... start with 10% of your regular distance (switch to shoes after that) then like with most other running efforts, try for a 10% improvement per week. That's how I (a mediocre traithlete not a sprinter) made the adjustment to sprinting myself. I sprinted one sprint twice the first week... then two, twice the second week... then three and so on until I was getting 8 sprints twice a week. BTW...for me, barefoot sprints were immediately the fastest, best sprints I've ever done in my life. As I already said, I'm not a sprinter so an immediate improvement in performance from doing something that just felt natural and right...shows just how unnatural heel strike running in thick soled shoes really is. Or that's what it showed me.
Yeah ran for about 40 minutes on pavement in my Vibram KSOs and it was a little brutal but I have to admit I liked the fact that there were parts of my feet and calves that were completely spent that never get sore or tired during a run. I like the fact that running "barefoot" with my toe shoes is exposing my feet and legs to a whole another element of pain, which IMO is a good thing.
Running and strength training recovery 4 Answers