Barefoot Running on C25K

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I am not a runner.  I have never been a runner.  I have gone so far to say that I will never be a runner.  In high school I was on track and field and I somehow got away with refusing to run.  I sprinted, I jumped, but I did not run.  Apparently, I am a hypocrite because now, for the first time in my life, I am learning to run and loving it so far.

As I mention in my profile, my body changed a lot once my metabolism caught up with me.  I was always a skinny kid.  I have “bad knees” from growing too fast, being put in braces, and then battling Lyme’s Disease at a young age which has left me with some arthritis in my knees and hands.  My immune system was not tops and I used this as an excuse to skip gym classes and “poo-poo” exercise in general.

When I hit my early 20’s, my physique really changed and I ignored it at first.  I’m tall so I hide extra pounds very well; it was easy to pretend I was still healthy when that was no longer the case.  I don’t care about “skinny”, I care about “healthy”.  At 40lbs overweight I was no longer healthy.

The change was slow.  I started exploring my diet by ditching the fast food and adding organic and local goods.  I started walked to work and thanks to a new job in retail I was on my feet more and the weight just started dropping.  I was practicing yoga regularly.  I felt great!

I was inspired (for other reasons) to begin working on a degree in Muscular Therapy and I found myself surrounded by personal trainers, physical therapists, nutritionists and healthy active adults all around.  The mentality couldn’t help but leach into me.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was working with women in their 50’s who had physical and mental strength that came from their dedicated workout routines and diet.  “A body in motion stays in motion.”  “Move it or lose it.”  I realized, I have to start NOW if I hope to be healthy and active for decades to come.

Along with regular yoga, I started lifting light weights.  Since I’m a gadget-lover, I bought myself a Wii and Wii Fit and lost 16lbs in three months (seriously).  I then “graduated” from Wii Fit and moved on to My Fitness Coach which I’ve been happily using for over two years now.  Since moving to Vermont, I’ve rekindled my love of hiking, swimming and kayaking.

Now, I’m not a workout junkie.  For one thing, I just plain don’t have the time, and, for another, as much as I’ve learned to love how I feel when I work out, I’m still not 100% gung-ho about it.  At this point I would consider myself in shape, but not “athletic”.  So why on earth did I decide to start running?!

It started with peer pressure.  I have a friend who just started Couch To 5k (C25K) and she’s loving it.  Spring has also officially sprung here in Vermont and it’s gorgeous.  I want to be outside with my awesome dog, Toby, instead of working out in front of my TV.  The problem is that I don’t want to give up the cardio work that I’ve done and walking/hiking just doesn’t get my heart rate up enough.  Then, I read several reviews of the C25K program from people with “bad knees” and people who “hate running” and I figured, what the hell, I’ll try it!

I tried it, and I love it so far.  However, I’m doing it a little differently as I also discovered Vibram Fivefinger KSO’s at the same time.  Being somewhat of a tree-hugging hippie, the idea of being able to safely hike, swim and run on trails while feeling barefoot is very enticing to me.  Not to mention the anatomical reasons for running barefoot appeal to me.  It trains one to run on the balls of ones feet which helps absorb impact creating happier knees, ankles and a lower incidence of foot injury.

There’s a great debate about barefoot running. My friend who’s also doing C25K cautioned me against it.  Some say it’s a fad and it’s dangerous.  There are also several research studies that back up the claims that barefoot running is beneficial for posture and helpful for those with knee issues.  I wanted to make up my own mind so this blog will chronicle my personal experience with barefoot running and I will probably also discuss other “barefoot” activities.

Intro done!  Now, let’s get to the good stuff!!

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