Here are my thoughts and ramblings concerning the Vibram Five Fingers and bare foot running.
At this time I am using the Vibrams as a training aid. My plan is to run the short distances in the Vibrams and run the long distances in my running shoes. Depending on how things go this may change as time and experience build.
My results so far have been good. The short runs have been getting better and better. I feel more comfortable running on both the road and the grass in the Vibrams. My Patellar tendon has felt much better lately. At this point I am not sure whether to attribute the reduction in pain to the barefoot running or not. I have not changed my other exercise routines. I did a run of 8 miles on Sunday and never even felt a twinge of pain from the patellar tendon. The only pain I have had lately is a slight tenderness in my right foot at the heel area. It is a non-distinct pain that does not feel like it is progressing to something more serious. My right foot has given me trouble for my entire running career so that is nothing new.
I have been reading more on increasing speed by increasing my cadence. At this point I am not sure what my normal cadence is. I cut and pasted this information concerning running cadence from http://www.rungearrun.com/resources/cadence.php.
“Running cadence is the measure of how many foot strikes either the right or left foot makes in one minute, and it's one of two factors involved in your overall speed. There are only two ways to get faster on the run: take longer steps and/or take more of them. Interestingly enough, however, observational research has shown that a runner's cadence is the least variable of these and most elite runners maintain a cadence of 85-95 regardless of pace or distance of the event. What happens is that runners adjust stride length to gander speed, and the same quick turnover with a slightly longer stride results in a faster race.”
I have reviewed many running websites that discuss increasing running speed by increasing running cadence. That seems to be a common theme among those websites. This is good because according to the barefoot running websites I have researched, successful barefoot running is also associated with a higher running cadence. Apparently when you run with a high cadence you reduce the heel strikes and actually land more flat footed or actually on the balls of your feet. This allows your foot’s natural shock absorption system to activate. Or at least that is the theory!
I bought the Garmin foot pod this week to use in my cadence training. The foot pod is really for running on the treadmill or inside where you do not get the GPS signal. It sends the information to my Garmin 305. The foot pod is similar to a pedometer and estimates your actual mileage and pace by your stride length. However, I will be using the pod for the cadence function. I am really interested in determining my average cadence for a complete run. Hopefully by my next run the pod will be here (I ordered it from Amazon). I am going to compare my cadence in the Vibrams and my Nikes.
Final thoughts. I did a three mile run today in the snow. I did not wear the Vibrams; however, I did try to increase my speed some. During my “fast” slow run I thought of the perfect description of my running style “lumbering oaf”. Smooth graceful efficient fast running is not my style!
Have a great day!