Running Naked (foot naked, that is…)

Today, fellow adventurer Andy and I attended the annual Scottish Barefoot Running conference. If you’ve read my Healthy Living Yearbook, you’ll know that I am an enthusiast of many types of running. It’s good to have a melange of routes, paces, and even footwear.  We turned up at Bruntsfield Links this morning with the mission of road-testing Vibram 5 Fingers on a group run. Footworks, who were running the conference (no pun intended), arranged for sample pairs for us to try. And they were new, bonus!

vibram

My first impression when I put on the Vibram 5 Fingers was that they fitted like gloves. It was a weird sensation having my pinky toe partitioned off, especially when it usually sits so snugly with it’s neighboring digit. We tried the newest model, the Vibram Bikala Evo which were incredibly lightweight. In fact my feet did get a little chilly waiting for the start, but I’m the kind of person who wears wool socks eight months of the year. We set off around the Meadows and I wondered if attempting a five mile run with experienced ‘minimal’ runners was foolhardy, but thankfully it was at a relatively easy pace. My Archilles tendon felt a little tight above the left heel, but it soon stretched itself out. The feeling of running barefoot was uncanny, the extra protection appreciated. As we ran up the top of Salisbury Crags, the excellent grippiness of the very thin soles came in handy.

vibram_crags

I’m usually a pussy running down rocky hills, but I felt an incredible sense of freedom running in funny ‘yeti shoes’. It was only when we were dodging the tourists running up the Royal Mile did I start to feel self conscious of my footwear. By the time we got to near the top of Castlehill I was starting to feel a slight rubbing, potential blister, on a toe. Not bad, considering the shoes were wet from running through soggy grass in Holyrood Park. And I was wearing no socks. As someone who gets blisters easily, running with no socks in Vibram 5 Fingers was astounding. We took a detour from Castle Hill to the steps coming down from Johnston Terrace – again, down with no foot pain. I loved legging it through the grassy Meadows up to the conference marquee in Bruntsfield Links. And guess what? The rubbing never became a blister…

After the run, we headed home to pick up Coco the fitness pug for the afternoon’s sessions. We returned to the marquee halfway through Balanced Runner and Feldenkrais practitioner Jae Gruenke’s talk on running form. It fab to hear other like minded coaches talk about running as a process to be enjoyed. It’s not always about PB’s (Personal Bests). Her practical drills were enlightening as well. Ultra-marathoner Donnie Campbell talked next, urging us to consider what actually running success is and means.

Andy and I had a really good day and would both consider investing in some Vibrams.
I just don’t know if I’m brave enough to wear them in public! Unless I’m running really fast!

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