First Minimalist Run

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair~

Kahlil Gibran

I took my first “official” minimalist shoe run last night!

I received my Vibram Five Finger Bikila Evo shoes, the other day and ran a mile in them on the treadmill.  They felt great.  It really is amazing.

Wearing my new Vibram Five Fingers Evo for the first time!

Wearing my new Vibram Five Fingers Bikila Evo’s for the first time!

I’ve been transitioning for months, to the “barefoot/minimalist” method.  The first time I ever ran this way though in my regular running shoes, I ran 3 miles, and I could barely walk- let alone run for over a week.  When your legs and feet are used to running with a “heel strike” in heavily padded shoes, you can’t just make the switch instantly.  So I’ve been running in my less padded shoes, aiming for a forefront strike most of the time.

I think that is why the transition is going so well for me. I’ve been transitioning since last December to running this way, in my padded shoes.  But with the Vibrams,  I felt like I was flying. I ran on a combination of pavement, grass, and little trail.  I was running at almost sunset. I chose a trail with a lot of grass. I ran mainly on the grass.  I started to feel the moisture from the grass under my feet. Like I *was* running barefoot- free, and easy, and not a care in the world- like a child. I realized it has been that long, since I’ve felt the grass under my feet, while running.

I couldn’t help but think- that is sad.  It’s been at least 3 decades since I’ve ran like this. It felt so good- so natural, and yet, it’s been 30 + years.  My kids, don’t run like this anymore, and really who does?  But this is how we were meant to be- free, easy, joyful- feeling through our feet, while running through the grass.

I noticed I was smiling- I wasn’t even trying to smile but I was.  This is what I had been hoping for- that feeling of just not caring if I was running faster, but just having the fun and the looseness with running.  I heard my feet hit the pavement. And it was light-and quick. I’ve improved so much in just a week. I didn’t hear my feet hitting the pavement with heaviness, and I didn’t feel it in me. I felt light- and quick.  I saw my feet leaving impressions in the grass.  When I was running back, and still saw my footprint impressions in the ground- that’s what running is about.  Running past yourself- always improving.  We can always become better than we were- even if it was just 10 minutes ago passing yourself in the dewy grass.

I ran two miles and I had absolutely no pain.  I am not tracking my pace, but when I downloaded my run, the Garmin still records pace. My fastest pace was 6:50.  I did that on a good day in my regular shoes, so while I’m not basing any of this on stats, it felt like it was a little nod that I was on the right track- my first minimalist shoe run, for two miles and it was easy and fun, and I’m still able to hit my “normal” fastest paces.

I absolutely love running this way so far. The day after, I had zero pain- no hip pain, no shin pain, none of the “normal” aches and pains I have after running.   I’m planning a longer run- maybe 3 miles on Saturday with the Vibrams. I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing and run and have fun- taking it easy and light.

I had a moment though- I rarely run into anyone running.  But a woman passed me on my return run home.  She wasn’t running that much faster than me.  I had that few seconds where I thought about trying to catch her- not because I wanted to show her up, but because I wanted to see if I could catch a strong runner- she was about 10 years younger than I , and was running well.  If I had not been on my first run, in minimalist shoes, I might have really tried to catch her.  I think I would have. I would have pushed myself to catch her.

But this night- I let her go.  It’s more important to me now to train smart than trying to push myself to the max, to catch a runner. She may be a sprinter and was doing a fast run. I don’t know.  I like I still have that- there is a place for pushing yourself and making yourself better- that time is coming- but it wasn’t tonight.

I used to think there is always a runner to catch.  But now it’s more important I re-learn running and I know, without a doubt, I’ll be catching runners soon, when it isn’t even my goal. This is a good lesson for me.  The only person I have to “compete” with is me, and I’m not competing with myself. I’m improving myself- as a runner and a person.  I can let that runner go- where as before, I would think I had to catch her no matter what. What I thought I was achieving- speed- came at a cost with injury and a lot of soreness the next day, and the next day after that.

I am building myself up to take the stress of running when it really matters- and it won’t be to pass someone else on a training run or a race- it will be to show me, I can be better than I thought, in that moment I don’t think I can. It will be for me, running at my best- just for me.   And that is running- pushing yourself when you have to- but appreciating that you can.  We don’t run to measure ourselves against others- we run- I run- to show myself I can be better than I was- and better than I thought.

That is the beauty of running- passing your own footprints in the dew soaked grass-passing yourself, feeling the “earth delighting in your bare feet”, better than you were, better than you thought- running for yourself, chasing who you are becoming…

(Note: While I was designing Running Free Blog, I was writing blog posts too as I started this process, but had no place to post them.  So for a while the blog posts will be a few weeks “retro,” until I run out of content and start writing “live” every week. This post was written August 21st.)

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