I’ve run tiny distances in my Vibram Five Fingers over the past week, and worn them around a bit to get used to them (and embarrass my children) but I hadn’t done a proper run in them until today. I decided to do an easy 5k and see how it felt. It felt pretty good. My calves have to work harder, for sure, and I was feeling a bit of a strain in them by about two thirds of the way through, and I felt the beginnings of a blister starting on my big toe — typical for running in a new pair of shoes. Other than that I felt just fine. The weather was fantastic. I wore shorts and a tank top and even walking through the shade during my warm-up I was plenty warm enough. We have entered the perfect running season here.
I decided to do a regular easy 5k run. I figured I’d be using new muscles and getting used to a new running style and therefore it would be good not to push things. I brought a little metronome along and used it to keep my stride cadence at about 184 per minute — quick little strides that are much shorter than my usual heel-strike running style in my stability shoes. I found that felt pretty easy and natural once I got into the rhythm. I pushed things a little on the downhill but for the most part I kept my effort in the “moderate” range. When I got home I entered time and distance in my on-line log.
My regular 5k runs are shown above in green. The pink ones are the ones where I’ve pushed myself a bit, the “tempo runs.” You can see that I typically run 9 to 9.5 minutes to the mile on my regular runs, and a bit under 9 minutes on my tempo runs. What amazed me is that today (shown far right) felt like a regular run, but plotted out as my fastest 5k run (8:40/mile) since I started back at regular running a couple of months ago. And that was despite the fact that I ran the last kilometer completely barefoot, and felt like I slowed down fair bit. My Garmin told me the truth. While the last km felt like a cool-down, it was exactly as fast as the previous four.
It seems that the less there is between me and the road, the faster I am, even though I don’t feel like I’m giving things any more kick. This is very fun.