I could not agree more with the picture above!
Switching from the heavier thickly cushioned conventional running shoe to a minimalist shoe like the VFF Bikilas has been revolutionary for me. It has changed the way I run.
I have gone from being a heel-landing runner to a forefoot landing runner and the benefits have been amazing. The impact on my knees and hips have been minimized greatly and are no longer an aching concern I have to deal with when I run the long distances that I do.
I now feel like I will be able to continue running in my later years without the fear of long-term wear and tear on my joints, chiefly, – knees and hips.
I now run faster than I ever did with conventional running shoes. This did take time, though.
And, the transition into minimalist running has not been without some discomforts. Point in fact, it was a rough transition in several aspects.
When I initially began running in VFF’s my calves would get so sore. After my first run in VFF’s I was literally unable to run for a week because my calves hurt so much. I also experienced a tightness in my calves while running that I feared would make my calves. 😉
Other problems that have manifested in my minimalist running adventure was last summer while running on hot asphalt where my feet began to bake as I ran. My remedy to alleviate my baking feet was to run earlier in the morning and to run on the white stripe that runs alongside most roads. And, I also went back to running with conventional running shoes because of the baked feet problem with the thinly soled minimalist shoes. Unfortunately, when I went back to conventional running shoes my old hip and knee aches returned.
Getting my feet strong enough to withstand the stress of running 10+ mile runs was another thing I had to work on. After about 4 months of running in VFF’s I could easily crank out 8 mile runs fast and without any aches. To go beyond 8 miles would begin to wear on my feet. It seemed that all of those little muscles and tendons on the feet didn’t have a lot of strength and stamina. If I ran a half marathon distance in VFF’s my feet would ache for a few days. So, allowing my feet to strengthen just as I did with my calves was part of the training that took time.
Running on pebbly and rocky terrain was a nother problem, one that would send piercing pain from my feet to my spine and would send hurling insults out of my mouth to anyone or anything that happened to be nearby when I would land on a rock when running. That had become such a problem that I began to avoid running in places I used to love running at such as the Rails to trails. For a year I stopped running at the rtt because the terrain was so rocky that I could not avoid a run without landing on at least a dozen rocks that would send me into a fiery fit of cursing and hopping on one foot as I tried to soothe the aching the one.
Now, when I run at the rails to trails I seem to glide and slide off of rocks I make contact with when running. It seems almost subconscious how I seem to know when a rock is suddenly underfoot and my body adapts fluidly to that minimizing the impact and pain that may ensue. I call this sliding and gliding off of rocks in my VFFs as “running with the force”. Don’t think about it, just close your eyes, run and trust the force…it will see you through. It works! I’m telling you it really works! I now run a lot at the rails to trails here in Savannah and very, very seldom do I land on a rock with a painful experience.
The key to switching over successfully to minimalist running, I think, is to give yourself about a year to transition. That means, allowing your running times, pace to slow down until your calves and feet are strong enough to take the stress of running. For me, it took approximately a year for me to be able to run strong like I used to in conventional running shoes.
What I’m saying is that I went from being a 6:30 minute miler for 10k’s to a 7:40 minute miler during the transition. I’m now running 10k’s at approximately 6:40 mile per minute pace. The big pay off has been on my half marathon time. I went from a 1:39 half marathon pr on conventional running shoes to a 1:34 half marathon pr with VFF’s.
The keys to transitioning from heavier, thickly cushioned running shoes to minimalist shoes are patience and time. Allow yourself plenty of it and you may feel as I do that I have a new lease on running that will hopefully last well into my old age without having to worry about getting a knee or hip replacement along the way.
So, yeah, I’m a believer in VFF’s.
What VFF’s do I prefer? Bikilas. They rock.