Thoughts about rebuilding and barefoot / minimalist running
The past couple days have had me thinking about the best way to come back from an injury that has left me unable to run for 3+ months.
I have also come to the realisation in the recent week or two that my beloved trail shoes likely played a part in the injury, in addition to the quick ramp up and over doing it. Specifically I found that the top of the toe box bends directly into where my toe injury occurred and in turn the pressure now causes some pain when running. I do not experience that much pain when walking and hiking in the shoes, maybe just a couple of times during a hike. So in turn, I have been wearing a pair of roads shoes with a wider, taller toe box which I have found do not cause me pain when running.
This got me thinking, I have always wanted to pursue barefoot running more and getting out in my Xero Shoes* more often. Below are my huarache style sandals, the Amuri Cloud from Xero Shoes:
Which leads me to a brief tangent on barefoot and minimal running. This has been an interest of mine for some time now. Reading book and articles on it, trying it out both in my sandals and actually barefoot, but never really committing to it for too long or long enough to really build the base that one needs when making the transition. A lot of this had to do to with me not wanting to slow down in order to build back up (see how this is tying in to how this post started). In short, I did not want to impede improving or being able to go out and do certain runs.
So again I perceived it is as something that would be slowly me down or limiting me in what I could do running wise, when I know I could easily do those things with shoes. So I continued to wear shoes, continued to get running related injuries in my feet, and now, I'm at a point where I am already examining a lot about my running and this latest injury is a sign to finally give this a go, I find myself really wanting to commit to it. So it really gives me this "starting over" moment because I am now at a point where I do need to build myself back up. So why not take a different approach and go all in with my minimal sandals and barefoot?
After coming to the above mentioned realisation that my trail shoes likely played a part in my injury, it already made me think about getting a new pair of running shoes and trying again. Though that then led me to consider what I currently have to work with to:
Save having to spend more money on shoes that may/may not work, and;
Help lead an overall minimal lifestyle.
Reduce my consumption and in turn reduce/improve my environmental impact.
Enter my the Xero Shoes I already own. They are pretty awesome if I do say so myself. Outside of some bad rubbing, one time in them, I have had some great runs in them. I really do think it is because they are so close to being barefoot, but provide just enough protection, that they make you work towards having proper posture and running form. The idea is that this then leads to less running injuries and better performance. That said, it's best to take it slow, in order to not overdue it and create other injuries as your body adapts to the new shoes and running form. I can truly attest a lot of my improvements in the past to do adopting a more natural, barefoot running style even though I continued to wear shoes.
Going super minimal/barefoot really just allows for more sensors in my feet to turn on and provide greater feedback to my mind and body. In turn, allowing me to run the best way possible, for me, and lower the chances of injury.
Nothing like strapping on cushioned shoes to your feet and numbing their senses, which I believe for me has led to overdoing it because I'm getting less feedback from my feet.
So yes, moving on to the next chapter of my running to see what it has to offer. Of course this also means needing to map out a training plan that will assist with this rebuilding effort, but more on that later.
*Full Disclosure: I should note that I am no way sponsored by nor paid by** Xero Shoes to sponsor their stuff. Would I love to trial their shoes? Definitely. Have I actually applied to do so? Absolutely. That is just because I really like their stuff. I also recently bought a pair of Hana shoes from them. These shoes have already become my new favourite everyday shoes, especially now in the winter: https://xeroshoes.com/shop/closed-toe-shoes/hana/
**Update: As of July 2020 I am now a Xero Shoes affiliate - links now included here. I am also rereading this and realizing how much I'm in a similar hole now injury wise (different ones) almost two years later. I didn't quite stick with the barefoot running to go full on with it. In the end, I recall still having some issues with the Cloud's, which I was emailing with Xero Shoes support to assistance and help to resolve. There was some suggestions of alternative lacing, which I've done and that's helped with general everyday wear but not the running aspect. I have been running a lot more in my Hana's and love it! Well, up until overdoing it in them doing continuous hill repeats, injuring the Achilles tendon in my left leg and the hell of my left foot. That then creeped up my left leg and I believe is negatively impacting my left hip. Obviously a common theme here with me of getting overzealous and overdoing it. I'll learn my lesson at some point, ha! What I have learned is to just rest when these injuries present themselves, especially if I have the time to do so in my running and training plans. Well my recommendation would be to rest and get things sorted, seek a medical professional or PT, even if there is an impending race or some other goal/date that you're trying to hit. Better to get healthy and strong and come back another day, versus not come back at all.
Happy Running! ✌🏻😊