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Walking and Running Barefoot

Long ago, more than five years ago now, I was in the Army. I ran everyday, four and five miles, and I was a fast runner. My fastest two mile time being 10:26. Now, that speed isn't a land speed record or anything like that, but I say it to illustrate that I used to run a lot. Short and long distances, Honolulu Marathon of 2001 being the longest distance I ran. (26+ miles).

When I had my accident in the Military (an antenna fell on me), it hurt my back immensely and I thought I'd never have that kind of exercise (running) again. Hang up the shoes, I'm done running. It hurt to stand for 15 minutes, hurt to walk through the mall, how was I possibly going to get out on the road, or offroad and run again?

In 2008, after deciding that I was going to live on painkillers for the rest of my life, and I sure wasn't going to get metal rods placed in my back (the military's solution to my problem), I decided on a different kind of medicine. Chiropractic care.

Say what you want, but I swear to this day, it worked for me. I went to a Chiropractor for awhile, and he used a machine to adjust my back. Now, I am not sure how this machine is supposed to function, but I didn't really feel any relief in pain, I was still living day to day with the realization that I couldn't pick up my daughter and carry her around. That was rather disheartening. Eventually my Chiropractor said, "Let's do a manual adjustment". You know, lay you on the table and twist you like a pretzel until your joints pop, I guess, back into place.

Say what you will, but since the first day he did that, I haven't felt much pain anymore. Every once in awhile I'll that old familiar cramp in my lower back, at which point I'll go up, get adjusted, little massage, and I'm good to go. I probably go to Chiro about once every two months now.

Last year I decided to start running again. Bought me some new running shoes, ran 2 miles, was tired. You figure, I haven't ran, or walked a long distance in several years at this point. Next day I got up, and I was sore. Sore I haven't been in years. A different sore, a sore that you felt gratifying in being. Not sore because you were in pain, sore because you did some exercise. Those of you that are runners or lifters know what I am talking about. The next time I ran, I ran a little longer, and it felt good.

Recently, I've started reading a lot about the benefits of running barefoot, and I read several articles about special shoes that were designed to protect your feet against, things like, glass on the street and other items, but still mimic the barefoot running experience. One shoe I read about was the Vibram FiveFinger, and the other was the Nike Free.

I researched them immensely and decided to purchase the FiveFinger after a couple friends of mine recommended them to me. So, this past weekend I went to a store in Rehobeth Beach, DE and picked up a pair.

I wore them all of about ten steps, and my two year old saw them and exclaimed that she didn't like them. They were scary, she didn't like them, and to put them back in the box. Despite what my wife was saying about them (she really didn't care for them either), they scared my daughter. I can't have that, so I wound up returning them the next day, a bit let down.

Then I went and bought some Nike Free-s. Tell you what, I like the Vibrams better, for the short amount of time that I owned them, but I really like wearing the Nike Frees. Even for walking. It's nice being "barefoot" or even having that "barefoot" experience, all day.

So, as a rather recent edition to my wardrobe, I can't make a judgement call on them yet, but I will, and I'll follow up this post with an eval after I get more of a chance to run in them. But so far, so good.

Please leave comments below.


oneguynick said…
I run a good bit myself as the Air Force beat it into me. I went down the same road (though without the pain) and purchased some Free in addition to my Asic Nimbus norm. So far I am with you on the comfort. Feel great without the weirdness of the glove shoes, but I am not seeing too much improvement on time yet. I would be curious in a month of training if they help you out. You are in my RSS feed, so I will keep an eye peeled.

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