I am a big fan of the idea of minimalist running. Yes: I read “Born to Run”. I have been wearing a pair of New Balance Minimus MT00’s for about 5 months as casual shoes, so my body has had some time to adapt to a more minimal shoe. More recently, I won a pair of Vibram FiveFingers’ latest trail model, the Spyridon, at Stanley’s Mountain Run 2012.
I am no tree-hugging earth-child, and I have a pair of Merrell boots which will attest to the fact that when the going gets tough, I get tough back. However, there is something hugely satisfying in the feeling you get padding around in a pair of FiveFingers. It feels like you are holding the earth, not stomping all over it. I guess this is what primates must feel like when they scamper around in nature, and maybe I am connecting to that at a deep genetic level.
Believing that I had enough information with regards the process of transitioning to a minimalist shoe, I embarked on what I felt was a supremely cautious plan.
I picked the shoes up on Monday, 30 April, and spent much of the week wearing them to work. I spend almost my entire day sitting at a PC, so the walking that I did amounted to walking from my car to the office and back which is probably less than 1km in total per day.
I did go for a “trot” near Kirstenbosch on Tuesday which involved a distance of 1.6km, either walking or trotting (slower than jogging) on clay paths up and down gentle slopes.
By the end of the week, my right foot felt bruised in the region of the metatarsophalangeal joints of the third and fourth toes — basically the balls of my third and fourth toes.
By Monday, I was limping, and I did not wear the FiveFingers at all for the week. The pain in my foot was bad enough to make walking painful, and that put strain on the stabilizers of my right lower leg. I did not wear the shoes at all during the week, and by Friday I could almost walk normally again in my running shoes, with just some tenderness in my foot.
Some residual tenderness in my foot at the start of the week, but walking comfortable again.
My foot is still tender, and I am not willing to risk it getting any worse, so not wearing the Spyridons at all.
So it is now the last week of June. Basically two months have passed, and my foot is still tender. I have had a few physio sessions, and have just been for my first run (a gentle 12km’s on trail in Salomon Wings) where my foot has not become so painful that it has affected my gait.
I read an interesting article about Morton’s Neuroma on Frayed Laces‘ site. This is possibly what my problem has been: not only does it appear that my toes became strained, but it would seem likely that the lateral compression of my toes has also caused a problem. I have never had a problem with shoe fit, and so have never paid particular attention to the differences between the different shoe brands and models in terms of toe box width etc. Looking at the Spyridons now, it seems likely that the tight fit that I commented on in my review was exactly that: a tight fit!