AHHHHH said my feet. Except for the big toe that was smushing up against the front of the shoe. SHUSH I said, this is soft tender leather and it will soon stretch out and you will have plenty of space.
In preparation for these shoes, I had been wearing my normal shoes (boots) but have been making a point to notice how I walk. What I’m feeling. Sadly I don’t feel much of anything. Most of the boots I have are Frye’s, and they have about a half inch of hard leather sole below the rubber outsole. They sure protect my feet, but I don’t feel the ground. At all.
Beyond the feeling, i started to notice how I walk. I noticed that I was a heel-striker (hitting the heel first before the rest of the foot hits). Most of us are. It really can’t be helped. Most of us wear shoes with some sort of heel, and it’s usually cushioned (especially in running shoes), so we can’t feel it when the heel hits. It usually isn’t a problem when we’re just strolling, as we have so much cushioned. But when you run, guess what happens? You are now putting many hundred pounds of pressure on that heel strike, and all of that shock stravels upwards into your body.
When I got the shoes yesterday, I put them on immediately, and walked down to the coffe shop where I do my work. At first, it felt NAUGHTY. My feet felt NAKED. Well, and I WAS walking down the street in bright pink booties! But i was feeling….FEELING the ground! It was even sort of tingly, as my feet were sending information up my legs. After a few blocks I got over the initial glee and started to space out worrying about something or other and just walked. Then I realized…my foot hurts? what the heck. And then I realized – I was heel striking! and in a shoe with only 2mm of rubber at the bottom, I was basically striking directly on the heel. Ow! Amazing what my shoes were covering up. It took a real effort to try to adjust my walk so the heel didn’t hit. I almost had to pick up my feet and place them down. Not sure if I’m doing it right yet. I only walked about six blocks total, but by the time I got home, I could already feel that I’d used different muscles.
The First Run
The next day I was all excited to take the shoes out on an initial run. I had been forewarned that you CANNOT go directly from running in regular shoes, to running in barefoot/minimal footwear, because your calves and foot muscles will scream bloody murder at being roused from their slumber and made to work. You have to start with literally five minutes. I decided to go for a walk to Astoria Park and do my five minutes there. I started noticing the heel strike problem again. When I arrived at the park I happily started doing a little jog on the dirt trail. It was much easier to do a non-heel strike form with a little momentum, i found.
You’d think that running in basically a slipper would feel ridiculous, and you’d be right. But it also felt AMAZING. I have ankle problems, and while running in regular shoes, I’d always worry about landing “wrong” and twisting my ankle and toppling over. No such worry here. My feet felt solid, and sure. I could feel my toes spreading inside the shoes to grip the ground. I started zipping left and right, trying out my “new feet” on different terrain, just to see what it felt like. It was a run I’d done many times, but it was completely new! The amazing part was on the way back, running up a hill. Usually this is my least favorite run element, but I don’t know, my feet became springs in these shoes!
The sad ending to this story
As you may have guessed I went a little too gung ho and had screaming calves the next day.