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Author Topic: Been thinking about switching to minimalism?  (Read 862 times)
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Zerg
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« on: October 30, 2011, 06:32:22 PM »

Hello all! If you're reading this, I'd like to thank you in advance for looking over a newbie's new post.

This year, during the cross country season, I've developed shin splints. Yuck! Now, because of how injury prone I am(and how poorly I manage time between schoolwork, swim practice and XC, but that's a different story Wink ), I've been talked out of running for the team next year.

So in my search for how to better my injury and be fit enough to run next year, I've stumbled upon a few articles that say wearing minimalistic, VFF, VFF-esque, etc. shoes can help with adjusting my stride and strengthen my legs for running. (I'm afraid of barefoot running because of all the rough terrain we have here in Las Vegas; whether it be hot asphalt, pebble trail, or road hazards such as broken glass, nails, etc.)

I have also heard that switching immediately to barefoot/minimal running is very dangerous for a runner used to thick, cushioned shoes as well.

My question to the community is: Should I transition to VFFs, and if so, how should I go about transitioning to it?
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« on: October 30, 2011, 06:32:22 PM »

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PB Junkie
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« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2011, 06:43:45 PM »

There is some great info here:

http://www.runnersworld.com/community/forums/runner-communities/barefoot-running/new-barefoot-minimalist-runners-start-here

http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/faq/barefoot_running_faq.htm

Take it slow and easy to start.
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Zerg
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« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2011, 08:04:07 PM »




We will be starting a dryland training program on my swim team, which will include core training and a short, 2-5 mile run after practice. Would it be acceptable to skip the intermediate phase of acclimating to a lightweight shoe(such as the Saucony Kinvara), and then switching over to a more minimalistic shoe(such as the VFF Bikila)?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 08:06:57 PM by Zerg » Logged
JustinB
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2011, 08:27:34 PM »

During your transition phase, 2-5 miles is not short.  You could skip to the Bikila, but you need to understand to take it VERY slow.  There are runners on this site that were running 10 miles at a time before switching to VFF's and after switching start by running 1/4 mile in VFF's before switching.  If you go too much too fast, you are going to make your injuries worse and suffer more.
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« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2011, 08:27:34 PM »

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Zerg
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« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2011, 08:33:22 PM »

During your transition phase, 2-5 miles is not short.  You could skip to the Bikila, but you need to understand to take it VERY slow.  There are runners on this site that were running 10 miles at a time before switching to VFF's and after switching start by running 1/4 mile in VFF's before switching.  If you go too much too fast, you are going to make your injuries worse and suffer more.

This program will probably not start for a few months. If I were to jump straight to a toe shoe (such as the VFF Bikila) immediately, should I begin doing short runs like this to build a tolerance for them?
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JustinB
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« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2011, 08:36:02 PM »

You would have to start very soon and even then, you may not have worked up for a 2 mile run in time.
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Zerg
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« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2011, 08:42:52 PM »

@JustinB

How would I determine my capability with toe shoes then?
From my understanding, it would go like this;
-1st Run with toe shoes: Run as far as you can until pain threshold is reached; knock a little bit of distance off from there, and use it as my base.
-Build 10% distance every week
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« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 09:22:11 PM »

The 10% increase is good, but the trick is finding out how much you should run in VFFs the first few times out. You'll want to start as soon as possible, and start off by doing very short distances. Probably a couple hundred metres(or yards) at a time. The most important thing is learning to run with a midfoot/forefoot strike, allowing your heel to 'kiss' the ground just after the rest of your foot touches the ground. Dialling in your form early on will reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself right away (like I did).

Another important note is to give your body time to rest and recover in between early VFF runs. Because you are using new muscle groups, so they need time to adjust.

Try a short distance around a local track, or do a run that's about 2 minutes or so. The slower you go now, the more you'll thank yourself later.
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JustinB
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« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 09:38:27 PM »

The 10% increase is good, but the trick is finding out how much you should run in VFFs the first few times out. You'll want to start as soon as possible, and start off by doing very short distances. Probably a couple hundred metres(or yards) at a time. The most important thing is learning to run with a midfoot/forefoot strike, allowing your heel to 'kiss' the ground just after the rest of your foot touches the ground. Dialling in your form early on will reduce the likelihood of injuring yourself right away (like I did).

Another important note is to give your body time to rest and recover in between early VFF runs. Because you are using new muscle groups, so they need time to adjust.

Try a short distance around a local track, or do a run that's about 2 minutes or so. The slower you go now, the more you'll thank yourself later.

I agree... regardless of previous capability, I would do no more than a 1/4 mile the first day, and do that for a week or two and then start moving up.  Being a cross country runner I know it will seem ludicrous to stop so soon but you have to in order to prevent injury.
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« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 11:31:04 PM »

Would walking around in the VFF/toe shoes also be beneficial to acclimating to minimalism?
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JustinB
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« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2011, 11:54:01 PM »

Yes, the first month I was wearing my VFF's all I did was walk in them.  It got some of my muscles more accustomed to the minimalist lifestyle.  Definitely beneficial
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« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2011, 12:12:04 AM »

Okay everyone, thank you for your input! I'll attempt to get my first pair of VFF ASAP.
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2011, 10:11:17 AM »

I think the main goal is improving your form and stride and strengthening all the associated muscles, ligaments etc...  These are all goals that can be obtained w/o such a drastic change in your footwear; something I'd be leery of recommending to a very novice runner.  The hallmarks of minimalist running, in my view, is the reduced heel-to-toe drop of the shoe, the overall lower profile (thickness underfoot) of the shoe and the flexibility of the shoe.  Again all aspects that can be obtained w/o having to go right to a VFF.  Think racing flats or other minimalist running shoes; there are a *ton* of them out there.  Just simple inspection of these and other forums should be proof enough that the dreaded TMTS syndrome is quite common so why make such a drastic change?  I'm on the bandwagon for more of a "transitional shoe" approach to minimalism.  It may be the transition shoe is enough to reduce or eliminate your injury issues (was in my case) and you may not find a need to go any further i.e. barefoot, VFFs etc...  I think the risk of the drastic change far outweighs the benefits.  The "take it slow" warnings are good but if you're new you don't know what that truly means since you probably aren't super aware of your body. 

Just my $.02 from over 20 years of running.

Good luck with whatever approach you take.  Running is an awesome activity!

Rob
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« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2011, 02:38:36 PM »

I disagree strongly with the "first run: run as far as you can until your pain threshold is reached." 

If you insist on going straight to super minimalist shoes like VFFs, you need to go way slower than that.  Others have suggested going for very short runs (ie. minutes at a time) rather than go as far as you feel like - because if you're running fit, that might be several miles.  And anything over a few hundred yards or a couple of minutes is entirely too long.  Your feet are extremely complex, and there are a lot of muscles/soft tissue that need to slowly strengthen over time to carry this workload.  Jumping from shoes directly to VFFs will require you to be EXTREMELY patient and EXTREMELY conservative. 

Personally, I suggest going totally barefoot in the safest environment you can find (ie. clean concrete) because it'll teach you correct form (which can be difficult to find if you run in minimalist shoes, but have never actually run barefoot), slowly strengthen your feet, and yes, exposing your skin to the ground will keep you from over doing it too quickly.  As someone who neglected that advice, jumped straight into VFFs and ended up injured later, that's the best option.

But the Kinvara might be a good intermediate option for you, as it encourages the midfoot strike without requiring a lot of transition time.  If you're not a patient person (and from your posts you don't really sound like one), then I think you should look in that direction rather than jumping right into true minimalist footwear like the VFFs.
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