The ticking time bomb of running the Miami Marathon was always in the back of my mind any day I didn’t run or when I didn’t feel good. Each time I thought about it, I tried to remember that I didn’t care about the marathon, or even finishing it. I was just gonna run and whatever happened, happened. I was actually not training at all, if you could call that not training. I was simply choosing to run further every month up until the marathon to make it easier. Still though, I doubt I would have pushed through such pain if I secretly didn’t have some desire of the marathon in me. It did cause alot of suffering however.
Plantar fasciitis decided to hit me the week after the Turkey Trot. It went away with a change in shoes, from some uber cheap Asics to some shiny new New Balances and a week off. My legs also had started to chafe all over the place, but that was easily remedied by getting some running shorts DUH.
I was sore every day for so long it became habit. Sometimes I would take two to three days off in between runs because I was hurting so much. Nothing seemed major though besides the knee.The second injury came in the form of my right knee. It slowly but surely hurt more and more as I increased my distance. The left knee hurt as well, but the right knee hurt ALOT. Being the stubborn being I was, I figured it was all part of the “no pain no gain” theory, adjusting my body to the harsh demands of running long distances. I tried an anti-inflammatory one night and it stopped the pain. Bonus. I did this for a week. Then I decided that was a bad idea. I never have liked the idea of using something extra to do the bodies work. But I was seemingly getting worse. Was this running something I am not supposed to do? Was my body telling me to stop? Sure felt like it. Oh and I also required getting plantar fasciitis again a month after the first. Another week out for me! At least that helped my knee. Momentarily. The thing was, I loved running mentally, but every time I stepped out there, for the first 3-5 miles of every run, it was agony. A great practice of physical meditation, but it just felt WRONG. Nonetheless I continued.
The Meditation That Changed Me Forever
Then the week of change happened. I was running and the focus was on my legs and feet. I was really observing each step: how I was landing, how my feet slid in my shoes, how I lifted my legs, and where the pain in my knee came from. As my mind cleared it was obvious that the big heeled padding of my shoes were pushing the force of each step into my knees. I had always wondered why humans were so inadequate in running. I mean, humans are the only animal that just sucks at physical activity in comparison to most others. But I never bought that idea. I didn’t just accept that we were clever and that is how we all survived all that time. Nonetheless, I started questioning the shoes that entire week as I constantly focused on my feet and legs and how unnatural running felt. Then the idea came to me.
The Cat in the… Barefeet
As I was relaxing after a 15 mile run, my Aunt’s cat Yellow strolled by me indoors. I opened my eyes and BAM it was right there in front of me. How did the cat get there so quietly? As I watched the cat walk, I studied it’s paws and how he placed them on the floor each step. I watched how it naturally moved. Then I thought to myself how similar their paws were to our feet in many ways. Then my uncle came home. His shoes were making an amazing amount of noise as he clumsily stomped around the tiled floor. We pound our feet down on every step. What if this is incorrect? I mean, what benefit is it for us to be so loud and hard on each step? Then I thought about how a cat also makes no noise when it runs. In fact, most animals make little noise in movement. Now, I get that we are not cats and we do not have four legs, but maybe we run incorrectly anyways. What would cause this? Shoes? Maybe shoes were the problem, not allowing our feet to be quiet and ninja like and spread out. But we HAVE to have shoes to protect our feet right? I wondered exactly what that thought entailed. What DID we need to protect our feet from? The seed had been set. Thank you, Yellow, the orange drooling cat.
The Giving Up the Shoes Joke
When mid December came, the soreness and pain had not subsided. I was still gonna try the marathon, but afterwards I was done with running. “Only 1.5 more months and this can end”, I would think. I loved running but this was absurd. I jokingly would say that the only way I would run again was if I went barefoot. I didn’t actually think people did this, though. Especially since it had to be dangerous with all of the hazards like broken glass and germs everywhere. But I did think of Yellow, the orange drooling cat, and wondered if he had ever stepped on glass or hurt his paws on anything. I wondered if he needed the support to jump up on the counter top and off, like the ninja cat he was. Maybe I should invent cat shoes to make an extra buck. Even if cats and every other animal seemed fine being bare-pawed. I wasn’t serious anyways, just a funny thought. But then something happened: my Aunt showed me an article in a magazine.
I cannot remember which magazine it was but it had an article on a toe shoe aqua sock like thingy named Vibram Five Fingers. It had won best innovation in Time magazine in 2007. Anyways, it said this weird shoe was being used for long distance running. RUNNING? Then I got it. It all made sense! A minimalist shoe, with a small amount of protection for the feet, allowing the foot to move, act and feel natural. I had found the solution to my woes! Following, I researched the HELL out of minimalist and barefoot running.
To my surprise, I found out people did indeed run barefoot all along. I was on Barefoot Ken Bob’s site and learned ALOT from that. I read Barefoot Ted’s website and learned even more. But these guys were CRAZY. I was not ready to go run straight bare; I needed an intermediary. I’ll start with the Vibram Five Fingers. This was the answer. I could run barefoot AND be protected.
I bought a pair of the shoes in a local small camp store in Miami called Venezia. It was the only store with them in southern Florida at the time. The owner was an awesome guy, and even gave me a discount. I bought the green VFF KSO’s. I wore them that entire day. I hadn’t been so excited about a pair of shoes since grade school. I even ran a few feet in them. I wanted to run further in them. I wanted to run the marathon in them. I had two weeks. And that is exactly what I did.
But wanting to run the marathon in the Vibram Five Fingers (VFF) KSO’s did not mean I actually did. Are you crazy? I ran the marathon in the big ass shoes. I took the advice of the many others I read online and didn’t even attempt to run in the VFF’s til after the race. I had a mission for now, and that was to run the Miami Marathon. But there was this…huge new obstacle in my way.
From Never Running To An Ultramarathon In A Year
Part 1: It All Started…
Part 2: Injuries!
Part 3: The Wall.
Part 4: The Marathon
Part 5: Putting On My New Feet
Part 6: The Alligator That Smiled At Me
Part 7: The Book That Plants
Part 8: First Barefoot Race
Part 9: Running Forever in the Park
Part 10: The Short Race Report
Part 11: Kansas City, Gonna Get My Baby Back Home
Part 12: The Return of the Long Lost Runs (no toilet humor please)
Part 13: Dorothy, We Are In Kansas Anymore
Part 14: Worn
Part 15: Valet = Achilles Tendinitis = No more running this year, well…
Part 16: Marathon Decisions: Screw It
Part 17: 9.5 Months After Losing Da Shoes: The Kansas City Marathon
Part 18: ULTRANESSSAUCISM: