It is a year or so since I started running. I have never been a runner before. Couldn't even manage a mile in High School and lets NOT even discuss Cross Country. I suffered from severe Asthma as a kid and that relegated me to the netball courts failing to shoot nets as the other kids ran about. (I am officially a Brit BTW, so no, it's not Basketball, it's Netball!)
So I suppose the question is really, why at the 'not-so-tender' age of 36 did I start? Well, about a week before my international move from Australia to Canada (I have had 3 International moves in 4 years but that is another story), I was in a car accident. Nothing too serious; I was rear-ended, but it was apparent from some of the CT scans they ran that I MAY be developing Osteoporosis. As I couldn't have any tests done after landing in Canada as our health care wasn't fully available, I decided to pro-actively do something about it whilst I was waiting. The most pro-active thing you can do is take Calcium, VitD and run - so I did.
A friend of mine was also interested in starting to run, so in November 2008, we started training for a 10K in April. Nothing too serious 2-3 times a week, we both started at 20 mins, then tried to progress to 5K. At this time my son starting to have his own issues at pre-school, and this was a way for me coping with the stress that was emanating from that. When he had to leave pre-school it was me running, pushing a 35lb 4 year old in a stroller. Now that was interesting. There is only so many times you can pant the 'ABC song' to a grumbling pre-schooler who is being force feed snacks just so he would stop moaning!!! Oh the horror - breathe... that's the past. Ahh think happy thoughts.
Everything was going well. Even managed a couple of 10K training runs by February. I then decided to do a local 5K road race. My friend was sick that week and I decided to do run the race at the last minute instead of a training run. I had some niggling foot problems, which the doctor put down to PF and that I should quit running completely. It didn't feel like PF and wasn't that bad, so I pretty much ignored him.. Bad move. He was wrong, I was right, it wasn't PF; it was much worse.
In the last 1K of my 5K, I developed severe stress fractures on my Talus and Calcaneus. (BTW Still managed a great time considering I limped the last 1K - 30.11). It took 3 trips to the ER, 2 x-rays and a bone scan to get the results. After I was unable to rest my foot; I have an over-active 4/5 year old, so I was placed into an air cast and my running days seemed numbered. Overall I was unable to run for about 8-9 weeks.
I may mention that these runs were all using 'Running store approved' shoes etc. All correctly fitted - top of the line shoes. Thought I would say that before I get all the comments.. Yes, I know who you are... "nah nah, should have used proper running shoes from a store... nah, nah, minimalist running is a pile of croc"... I hear you... I am a Mum remember, I know all!
I wasn't doing any heavy milage, so why the stress fractures? I had a bone density scan at this point. My bone density was fine, so Osteoporosis obviously wasn't the problem. I figured it was the way I was running. I must be heel-striking something awful, there had to be another way. My form was horrendous. If Whales had heels, I would be the God of whale heel-strikers.. Did that make sense? The Alcohol hasn't even started yet, oh dear..
This was when I looked into BareFoot/Minimalist running. I was a lurker on the Runners World Bare-Footing forum and I decided that perhaps this was the way to go. If I learnt proper form, then running (sometimes in running shoes) would be better; no injuries. As I would have to start from the beginning again, this seemed perfect. In May I purchased my first Vibram Five Fingers [VFF].
I started slow. A mile or so on the indoor track. I was in socks, and I think I ran my first mile in about 14 mins. It was pretty scary and pretty great at the same time. After a few weeks, my confidence increased. I developed the usual Bare-Foot newbie problems. Calf Pain, Foot pain, 'Too Much Too Soon' [TMTS] Pain. I wasn't disheartened. Why should I be? I was running - actually running! After everything I was euphoric. Didn't bother me, that I was shoeless as long as it got the job done. Okay there were a few funny looks, but I am freak, so it didn't bother me.
I started running trails in VFF's and loved it. My milage started to ramp up and my training partner announced she was considering a half-marathon in November. Would I be interested? I was very unsure. I was only 6 months out of injury. I wasn't an experienced runner and I had only been running in funky shoes. 13.1 miles seemed a lot. I had never run further than about 14K. However, much to her persistence I went for it.
I decided to do my long runs in shoes, but that lasted a week. My first week back in running shoes after 4 months crippled my feet. It was then at very much the '11th hour' I decided to run the whole half in VFF's. Heck if I trashed my feet, they are only feet who needs them...
So, A year in running...
I went from being a fairly active non-runner, to being a minimalist runner who has completed her first half (in 2:07 I may add)!!! Despite all the problems I have been through, this year has exceeded my expectations. When I started last year, I was only planning on running 10K. In the end, I ran twice the distance in minimal shoes. My sanity was restored, but I am running with no shoes, most people here would have me committed. So perhaps that point is still to be debated.
The Future, well I have successfully completed a 'Lose the Shoes Plan', now I am on a 'Lose the VFF's Plan'. My training partner is contemplating a full Marathon in May.. What do you reckon? Can I manage that with no shoes at all? Who know's - this time last year I could barely run 20 minutes on a treadmill!