Editorial note: I have included a few links in this post. I strongly suggest clicking through and reading the back stories. I think it helps clarify things. Plus, I did it and smiled at some older posts…so do it. Clicking links will open a new window.
I don’t ever remember being an athlete.
I was a soccer goalie for as long as I can remember. And a back row setter for a while. So I suppose I was an athlete in that I played sports, but I’ve never been athletic. I’ve never been of an “athletic” body type.
I used to have a saying about the three times in which you could expect me to run. This list was exhaustive: If I am being chased by something that is intending to kill me; If I am promised a million dollars at the end of the race regardless of when I finish; or from home plate to first base.
Then I was blindsided by an emotional breakdown of epic proportions (i.e. I got broken up with.) The night it happened, my parents found me in a puddle on the floor. There’s a whole story in there that I’ll get to one day – and yes, I’ve promised to tell you about it before – but their second to last attempt to make me stand on my own was to take me to a runners store and buy me brand new kicks that I had been “perfectly fitted” to run wearing: Mizuno Wave Riders. They were hot pink and silver. And I was as happy as a puddle of sadness could be.
I started “running.” I put that in quotes because the distance I’d run was, at most, a quarter mile. I guess it was still running, but I would have never referred to myself as a “runner.”
Two months later, I had moved on from my black hole of sadness and loneliness and I was well on my way of creating my life as the single, jobless wonder. I also quit “running” because I wasn’t a puddle anymore.
Four years later, in a huge bout of feeling left out, I decided I would try running. Not in quotes. Real running. All of my friends were running 5ks and boasting all these unfathomable times and speeds (like 35 minute 5ks and 6mphs!) So I downloaded the Couch 2 5k app on my phone and chose an arbitrary day: September 30th.
Actually, the chosen date was October 1st, but I also wanted to start training on a Monday, so September 30th it was.
On day one I was running one minute intervals, sweating like a fucking pig, hating myself, hating my feet, hating my fat self and crying during the 90 second walking intervals. This is not a joke. This is a literal description of that day.
Thirty short days later I ran 30 minutes straight.
I was stunned. I signed up for my first 5k.
Ever since that day, I’ve been on a decently strict regimen of running 3-4 days a week.
My training has changed: I’ve run longer, but slower. I’ve run faster, but for a shorter distance. I’ve run up hills. I’ve run down hills. I’ve run while layering 2 sports bras at a time lest my ladies decide to make an appearance, or worse, hurt like the devil is playing basketball with them on a fire-laden hoops court.
What hasn’t changed though, is the shoes. Every year, for my holiday gift, my mom buys me two pairs of running shoes. Always Mizuno Wave Riders. Always in a fun or obnoxious color. Always comfortable.
I can tell when the insole has been worn down too much because my back and my knees will start throbbing after a run. Eventually, it’ll get bad enough that I’ll feel as though my knees are old, rusty, metal gears being ground together in a pitiful attempt to bend and take the pressure of all my 145lbs. That’s when I trade out my running shoes for brand new ones – saving the old ones for rainy or muddy runs.
Until today. Today I decided to make myself a guinea pig. Mostly for myself and a little bit for you – my lovely readers. I’m taking the leap and trying something new to see if I can make a believer out of my Mizuno-centric self.
I bought these:
These are Skora Phase running shoes. They’re light, they’re snazzy and they’re basically like running barefoot. There is no arch support. There is no heel or insole padding to wear down. There is almost no slight elevation between the ball of the foot and the heel (which is called “zero drop” which sounds fun to me.) The idea is that our feet were made to run and walk without the support provided by typical running shoes. So I’m going to try it.
When these arrive next week I will begin to phase in my Phases (how fun is that sentence?!) by adding short runs in them immediately after my longer runs in my Mizunos. From what I hear, my Achilles tendons (and calf muscles, and hips, and knees, and arches) are going to need to limber up and this is obviously better done warm.
I am going to chronicle my transition on this blog and on my twitter (@deborahilene) so you can follow along there if this at all interests you. If nothing else, you can expect a lot of complaining about new muscle soreness and the potential of falling, literally, on my face. Who doesn’t want that kind of comedy in their lives? And maybe, just maybe, I’ll inspire you to try some minimalist shoes while you’re at it.
Disclaimer: I’m not being paid for my opinions. I am not being compensated for my time and effort of sharing my experiences (and maybe the love) with Skora Running shoes and I bought the shoes with my own money. Though – if you work for Skora and think I’m awesome, let me know. Also, give me tips or suggestions if you already rock minimalist running shoes. Kthxbai!