i’ve told this story before, but in case you haven’t heard it, i’ll tell it again.

when i was a kid we did a 1mi run as part of our “presidential physical fitness” testing program. i couldn’t run the whole thing. i think i might’ve been one of 2 or 3 kids in my class who couldn’t. it really did a number on my self confidence.

since then i’ve dreamed of being a runner. literally. i would have dreams at night of wearing the little shorty short running shorts, strapping on some cool looking running shoes, and running for hours at a time. not running from anyone, not running a race, just running. freud might say my subconscious knew what was going on (i was an out of shape fatty destined to die young) and this was its way of trying to give me a wakeup call.

i started running a while back when i was heavy. it was hard and it hurt. i injured myself. i didn’t do it right. i quit.

fast forward to November 2010. i was on the cusp of making a big change and had lost a few pounds. i wanted to run again. this time i did some research and learned about barefoot running. if you have no idea what i’m talking about, read this website and you’ll see what i mean. my buddy johnny b, a kettlebell nutcase who went through a health journey of his own a few years ago, wears the vibram five fingers shoes and recommended them highly. i figured i’d give them a shot.

i finally found some in a store (i really wasn’t looking all that hard..) on our thanksgiving trip to see my wife’s family out in augusta. i bought a pair of VFF KSO’s and started learning how to run in them.

first impressions, and remember i was 290ish at that point in time, were that they sucked. no cushioning. pain in the calves. but i expected that and pushed through. 2 weeks later i had no more calf issues, had figured out the forefoot striking thing (read the harvard link) and was cruising in the KSOs on the treadmill on a fairly regular basis. they were also pretty awesome for lifting weights too. i noticed sometime in december that ALL my ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain and lower back pain had gone away. your mileage might vary, but these suckers corrected some major issues i had been dealing with for a while. maybe i can do this running thing after all.

since then i’ve run quite a few miles in the VFFs and i love them. but i “ran” into some issues. i hate running in them on pavement!

once the weather got nice i did a few 3-5mi runs on the silver comet trail which happens to run very close to my house. i was moving slow and was uncomfortable. the lack of support in the VFFs is their key feature, but it induced some subconscious fear that i’d step on a broken beer bottle or a rock and be in some serious pain. thinking ahead to the 5ks and 10ks i want to run this summer i decided a more substantial pair of shoes for us on the pavement was in order.

about a week ago i visited one of my favorite places, Big Peach Running Company, to look at some shoes. i knew i wanted some “minimalist” type shoes that provided a little more support and protection than the VFFs but not the moon boot cushioning of most running shoes. they had a ton of options, i tried them all on and ran in them, and settled on the New Balance Minimus Road. they’re light, they don’t provide much support, and i felt like they would protect me while running on pavement. boy was i right.

that day i took them home, strapped them on, and ran a quick mile around my neighborhood. i was back to running confidently and was able to run at a good pace without thinking too hard. i decided that i love these shoes.

note: see the sharpie hash marks? that’s how i keep up with the mileage i put on a pair of shoes. each has represents a mile. they say these should be good for 200-250mi. most running shoes are good for 500 or so, but the lighter materials and lack of extra support and tread lessen the life of the minimus roads. a worthy tradeoff in my mind. plus, the sharpie marks look cool and other runners always ask questions while i’m stretching 😀

so now that i’m light(er) and in the best shape of my life i bang out 15-18mi/week either on the treadmill, in my neighborhood or on the trail. i finally feel like i’ve “made it” and can call myself a runner. next up? i have some 5k and 10k races scheduled this summer. i hope to run a half marathon before the year is up. next year i hope to run a full marathon.

dreams do come true!