Learning to use my feet again

The silver lining to all this health stuff I’ve been going through is that it’s a perfect time to try something new.

And by that I mean I’ve been wanting to get a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes forever. But I didn’t love the idea of only being able to run short distances to break them in.

However, with my recent injuries and the fact that I spent lots of time recovering off my feet, I am in need of taking it slowly anyway.

Add to that the fact that I went from 50-degree highs to 100-degree highs in Phoenix, and on top of that I haven’t even been on my feet in 50-degree highs, and it’s definitely smart to take it slowly.

A couple of days before I left for Phoenix, Jeff and I hit REI so I could get fitted for my new pair. Meghan and Scott had sealed my desire for them a few days before with their glowing reviews. And there was about $330 in dividends at REI just waiting for me to spend.

I went with the running version (they offer lots of types: fitness, multisport, running, minimalist running, and hiking.) The running version allows me to do trail runs with them as well as road runs. It doesn’t let me do day hikes with them, but I figure if I wear them out as quickly as I do running shoes, and if I love them, it might be ok to invest in multiple pairs or to go with a more multi-sport at a later time.

The unfortunate thing is I’m not quite up to running yet. But Anil and I started with a 1.5 mile walk on Sunday. Lemme just say I was so glad I was not walking alone. There were a few times that I felt as if walking was a really bad idea. The sun was coming up (it was around 10:30 a.m., which in Phoenix in April means hot). I had my Mederma on my scars and I was wearing a running hat to give my face extra protection, but my “new” skin is sensitive — I’ve noticed that things like onions, or cigar smoke, or hair dye just make my face burn something fierce — and I was worried being out in the sun. I was also winded and breathless, very unusual for me.

But the shoes were great. They felt a tad odd at the end of that 1.5-mile walk but no pain or anything else.

Monday we went for another walk, but we were smart enough to wait until later in the day, around 6 or 7p. The weather was absolutely perfect. In fact, every night that I’ve been here, I walk outside, expecting it to be chilly since that’s what I’m used to in Charlotte, and I feel like it’s a perfect summer night at a Carolina beach – warm with a nice breeze. Where’s the ocean?

This walk was 1.8 miles, and at the end I was filled with an overwhelming desire to run. I felt so great! Energy was good, the shoes felt good, everything was perfect. I held off from running, not wanting to overdo it. But even back at Anil’s I left the shoes on while walking around the house. I kept telling him they feel like slippers or socks even. They are so comfortable I don’t instantly want to take them off like I do all other shoes.

Last night’s walk was 1.9 miles, and was a repeat of Monday. Perfect weather, I felt good, everything was great. I even trotted across the street in an almost-jog since the light was going to turn soon.

A side note – aside from the walks, I’ve been spending a lot more time upright than I was. And I can tell it takes its toll – I’ve felt wiped out almost every day this week. I keep forgetting my energy isn’t 100%. The hard part is feeling great, and then doing something, and then feeling wiped out.

But, it’s the perfect time to break in those “weird” shoes everyone swears by. So far I love the Vibrams, and I can’t wait to try running in them. And so far I am just so happy to be mobile, even if it’s just a little bit.