Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole

The Difference Between Injury and Idiocy – A Year in Review

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The lady with the legs is not me. I stole this photo from vibramfivefingers.com. I hope they won't mind.

So this month marks a full year of my own private little Vibram Five Fingers running movement. I’ve seen blisters, I’ve experienced winter running, I’ve seen the far end of 13.1 miles. It’s all been great, but it would be just so much better if I wasn’t injured right now.

By this weekend it will have been 4 full weeks since the last time I ran. I believe I may have had a small stress fracture in my left foot, but I haven’t seen a doctor because she wouldn’t find it on an x-ray anyway, and even if she did, I don’t feel a strong desire to drop $400 for her to tell me to stay off it for a month. There’s a small chance it’s tendinitis instead (although I doubt it), either way I needed to stop running for awhile.

After a particularly difficult 10k last month, I decided to punish myself with some heavy intervals and several missed rest days. I thought I was revving up my training for the Providence Rock n Roll half marathon, but in reality I was just committing an Uber Training Fail (UTF), and now I’m not running the race at all. Boo.

So fast forward to this week, and I’m finally not feeling any more pain in my left foot. In fact, the only pain I get these days is that familiar morning tightness from the old tendon pull on my RIGHT foot, that the Great Bay half marathon earned me back in April (yes, still!). With this knowledge, I guess it’s no wonder people often ask me “So, do you think it’s those silly shoes that are giving you all those injuries?”

At first glance, it would seem that it’s these monkey-feet Vibrams that have caused all my aches and pains over the last year. With all the running I’ve been doing in them, I’ve gotten tendinitis, had sore ankles, sore achilles tendons, I’ve had calves so tight I’ve walked funny, IT band issues, nasty blisters, and now this stress fracture. Before I started running all those miles in my Vibrams, I had none of these issues.

This is true.

But sometimes I even forget the real facts, the important differences between my running before this last year (which I will affectionately call B.V. – Before Vibram) and the running I’ve done over the last 12 months (A.V. – After Vibram).

Years 9-1 B.V.

  • I ran in Saucony or Brooks heavily built-up, traditional running shoes.
  • My average running distance per run was 1.5 to 2 miles
  • The longest distance I ever ran was 3 miles (and I only did it once or twice)
  • My average total weekly mileage was 4-5 miles
  • My average pace was 10-11 minutes per mile
  • I had never heard of the term “long run”
  • I almost always ran on treadmills, and never ran outside in the cold.
  • About 1/3 of my distance was usually walking (long warm-ups and cool-downs that I thought I needed)
  • I never ran for more than 3-4 month blocks of time before falling off the wagon
  • I never signed up for a race and therefore never had any pressure to train
  • I usually stopped running because of hip pain, knee pain or a twisted ankle – or boredom

Year 1 A.V.

  • I run in Vibram FiveFingers Bikilas (and..sometimes, barefoot)
  • My average running distance per run is 4 miles
  • The longest distance I’ve run is 13.1 miles
  • My average total weekly mileage is 12-15 miles, 20+ if I’m training for a half marathon
  • My average pace is 10-11 minutes per mile
  • I try to do a long run every weekend, at least 6-7 miles long
  • I almost never run on treadmills, and I run outside all winter long (I find I actually prefer it to the heat)
  • I don’t count walking in my distance, unless it’s during a long run.
  • I haven’t lost interest in running for the entire year, I now consider it a permanent part of my lifestyle
  • I’ve run over 10 races in the last year, so I’m kind of always training for something.
  • I’ve occasionally had to stop running due to overuse injury

The biggest difference I want to point out here is the following:

I am running a LOT MORE than I used to. Much longer runs, more mileage per week and more regularly overall throughout the year. I have sustained injuries in both cases, but Before Vibrams, I was becoming injured even while running less than 5 miles per week! The injuries I sustained in the years B.V. were all due to poor form in over-built shoes. The injuries I’ve sustained After Vibrams have all been due to overtraining – too many miles, too fast. Pushing myself too hard. And some of it has been from poor form, too – but I learned early on that my form tends to suffer when I’m overtraining.

And therefore, the conclusion is this:

No, I am not getting injured now because of my funny running shoes. I am getting injured because I am stupid.

So there.

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4 thoughts on “The Difference Between Injury and Idiocy – A Year in Review

  1. Heal quickly and keep smiling – you’re doing great!

  2. Hi – Hanaan here. No worries, I ran the Providence Rock n roll half for you – barefoot!

    • Oh, I’m so jealous! I was so looking forward to that race…I signed up for it back in February!!

      • Well, see you in Newport this fall?
        The only thing better than barefoot running is barefoot running in the rain. I had the best run ever. Get better and back in the game – thanks for the honest post!!

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