Gradually, back to running

Last weekend, I reached a milestone in the weight loss, my weight dropped below 200 pounds. (That’s about 9 pounds in a month and a half — this low-carb thing continues to work nicely.) It was particularly significant, because I had told myself that I would allow myself to start running again when I got down to that weight.

Due to slightly flatter than average feet, I’ve tended to have more overuse injuries from running in the past. Regular weight lifting helped prevent it, but when you’re overweight, high-impact activity like running is that much more troublesome. Additionally, I’ve gradually grown skeptical of the wisdom of treating these symptoms with ever-more-restrictive “motion control” shoes. I definitely had found that in my experience, some less restrictive trail running shoes caused me less trouble than my earlier pair of (road) running shoes — however, that could have been merely due to the more uneven and somewhat softer surfaces I was running on — the former develops strength in the lower leg that perfectly flat pavement does not.

So, this past Tuesday, I went for a short run, a hilly 2 mile trail loop in the Presidio. But, I took things one step further. I did something I’d been itching to do for months — I ran it in the Vibram Fivefingers KSO shoes which I’ve so enjoyed walking in.

The experience was challenging, but worth repeating. My first observation was “You cannot hit your heel hard on hard surfaces.” My second observation was that trails that consist of hard-packed clay with a few stones scattered on the surface are more harsh to the nearly-bare foot than clean asphalt. Overall though, I think that it was a good choice. Making it something I had to do gently prevented me from running too hard on the first run in many months.

I had stiff, sore calves for over two days afterwards, but it was just a feeling of muscle soreness, not injury. Aside from that, I didn’t experience any unpleasant side effects in my feet and lower legs. I’ll probably go for a run in the Fivefingers again, though I probably will only do it once a week.

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