My experimental “caveman” run is complete and the results are in!. I wanted to see if I could heal my heel by abandoning my uber-comfy Nikes and went Paleo by running barefoot. The actual barefoot running only lasted about 3/10 of a mile. I found a very new, smooth asphalt path to run on. At first I tried running to the side in the grass but after so many years of being cradled in comfort my skin was too tender to handle the weeds. As predicted by the barefoot running crowd, my form changed dramatically to avoid the teeth-jarring crashing of my heel into the ground and I practically danced along on the balls of my feet. Well, not exactly danced. More like clumsy stumbling. When I was done, the soles of my feet were ON FIRE!
What was needed was a little protection for the soles of my feet without the over-cushioning of my over-priced heel-bangers.
A quick search of the internet provided unexpected hilarity. Countless “Minimalist” running shoes are abundant and plentiful….and more expensive! I had to laugh. Here was a modern-day version of The Emperor’s New Clothes! Less shoe for more money! On to Wal-Mart!
There, I found these little delights.
Nike would crow about the “zero drop” design. New Balance would tout the “lightweight fabric”, but only Wal-Mart says “Hey! These shoes are CHEAP!” 14 bucks later I was out on the Great Western Trail with the K9 running team. I don’t know if it was the cooler weather, the recent bi-daily running, or the minimalist experience giving me that heady Caveman feel, but I went almost 5 miles! First time I’ve run that far since before January, according to my running log. I had to take a couple of walking breaks, but my head (50% of the battle, remember?) wanted to go that far.
That afternoon my heel hurt like hell and my calves felt like they had barbed wire running through them. I expected some stiffness, but maybe I overdid it. The next day (Monday) I wore the most comfortable shoes I own to work (Chippewa steel-toed engineer boots…heavy, but I love them) and that evening I walked 1/2 mile in flip-flops at the Y with a friend before swimming laps. My heel felt great. Tuesday was a moderate pace bike-ride for about 45 minutes, and by Wednesday I was ready for more running. I cut back the miles to 2.7 and my pace was pretty slow. Being 40 lbs overweight has drawbacks other than tight clothes.
Thursday was a no-workout day, and I’m doing another 2.7 miles tonight. My right calf is a lot sorer than my left because the heel pain made me change my gait. Now that I have a healthier and more normal stride it will take time for the muscles to accustom themselves. I’m doing all of the usual therapies for plantar fasciitis: stretches, golf balls, night splints. I hoped for a quick fix, but time is needed to see if changing my foot strike will heal my heel and keep me running!