I run. I like to run. I take pleasure in sweating profusely, breathing heavily, and my heart pounding in my chest. I like the fact I can eat a little bit more and I can boast that I got up early that morning before work to get my run in. My second job is as a dog runner. Running was my thing. That is before I ended up with a dreaded runner’s injury. Every runner, regardless of miles run, find themselves suffering with an ailment. Whether it be foot pain, runner’s knee, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, a sore achilles tendon, and so on and so forth, it will hit and it can be debilitating and downright frustrating. I have the dreaded IT band syndrome. The iliotibial band is a tendon that runs from the top of your hip to your knee. As you run the outside or back of the knee screams bloody murder. Sometimes the pain radiates up the side of the thigh and down the side of the calf leaving you to limp home (which happened to me!). My injury was because I ran too much, overuse. I continued running my base miles in the morning, ran three dogs each week, and trained for a 12K. Big mistake. All the while I thought I was increasing my miles each week at a safe number. No such luck.
Now I have to deal with this IT band issue. It hurts when I run…a lot. The pain has subsided since the initial blow but I can’t be carefree about it anymore. I have to warm up and stretch before the run then limp home and stretch more. Some days are better than others but for the most part I can’t run as fast or as long as I had before and it is aggravating to say the least. I’m not sure I can accurately articulate how not running is such a blow to my psyche and waistline.
So, what can being done to combat this condition? Most sources tell you to stretch, stretch, stretch, and ice, ice, ice. Stretching has proved somewhat helpful but I am too lazy to ice the prescribed six times a day I’m supposed to. I was whining to my neighbor Bobby about my inability to run without pain and he e-mailed me a video on the treatment and prevention of the IT band by the Sock Doc. The Sock Doc went against everything I had read or been told about treating IT band syndrome: no stretching, no icing, massage, massage, massage, and get a pair of minimalist running shoes. New running shoes? Maybe that would work. As I did as much research as I could on dealing with IT band issues I started to read the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. The author was a man who ran three miles a days and one day his foot started to give him trouble and he got angry. The book was his research on why so many runners get injured and how ancient tribes like the Tarahuma Indians of Mexico and the Kalahari Bushman of Africa can run 60, 70, 80 miles barefoot and remain injury free. The book relays stories of recreational runners set back by pain and were healed once they started running barefoot or in minimalist shoes. Another source that advocates this form? Maybe there is some validity to it? I thought, why not try? I’m willing to do anything to run pain free again. I got myself a pair of Vibram Five Fingers which is as close you can get to running barefoot without actually running barefoot. I live in a city and I’m not willing to run sans protection on those streets. Not looking for hepatitis thank you very much. I took my funny shoes home and hoped for the best.
This blog was created so I can retell my successes and mishaps while I transition to running in “barefoot” shoes. It has not been easy in the least. I’ve hit many roadblocks and my patience has not been in tact. I’m keeping the belief that since my great great great grandmother was full blooded Tarahuma that barefoot running will be a cinch. Only time will tell.