As most of you know, I picked up a pair of VFF KSO's last fall for running. Prior to "retraining" myself to run in minimalist footwear, I was not able to run more than a 1/2 mile with out severe knee pain that would force me to stop and walk. I also had major knee problems backpacking which was very disheartening since it is a major passion of mine. One year ago, I backpacked about 16 miles in two days with a really light pack and that was about as far as I could go as my knees started to hurt too bad.
Last summer I visited a sports doc and received some PT for my knees, gluts and all around core strength. This seemed to help some, but didn't seem to really fix the problem. It helped balance out my muscles some as well as my flexibility, but that was the extent of it.
Fast forward to last fall, within minutes of starting to run in the KSO's my knee pain was gone and to this day has remained mostly at bay. I can still feel twinges of pain here and there, but it is nothing like what I experienced prior to using minimalist shoes.
As I've discussed in previous posts, running in a minimalist shoe forces you to run with the proper form. Most people will need to completely retrain themselves to run and walk in minimalist footwear and this takes time and patience!!
Since January, I have been averaging over 20 miles per week with a high of 32 miles and a long run of 14 miles. Generally I run on a paved trail (or next to) during the week and to a long trail run on the weekend. It has been great and a joy to run with minimal pain. The pain I do have I attribute to my body adjusting and is very different than the pains I experienced before. When my body is fatigued, I can feel my form start to deteriorate and strangely enough, 'old' pains start to surface. These 'old' pains quickly remind me to pay attention to my form and I correct it immediately and the pain subsides.
In December I day-hiked 12 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia in my Inov8 295's with no knee pain and this included some running and wearing a 10 lb pack. I was super excited about this as there were some major downhill sections and this was where my knee pain would previously surface. Being able to run down a big hill with a pack on and not have knee pain was a tremendous encouragement for me and I was sold on training in a minimalist shoe.
Per my previous post, I backpacked about 24 miles in 2 1/2 days on the Superior Hiking Trail with no knee pain and a 25 lb pack. I hiked it in my Inov8 295's as much of the hike was either in snow, on ice, in icy slushy water or muddy conditions. I thought about wearing a minimalist shoe for this, but conditions were just not right for it.
Any way you look at it, I feel that training in minimalist footwear has cured my knee pain that I was previously experiencing in traditional running shoes. It has also made my feet and legs much stronger and greatly increased my sense of balance as well as core strength. Running in minimalist footwear has also improved my form tremendously and for the first time in my life, I enjoy running!!
This weekend I will run the first running race of my life (admittedly, I'm not counting 8th/9th grade track as it was all less than 2k.) The race I am running is the Trail Mix Race that takes place in Hyland Park in Bloomington, MN. I will be running in the 25k race and will be quite content to be in the middle to bottom of pack for finish times.
One month from now, I will be running a much more challenging race that takes place on the Superior Hiking Trail. The Spring Superior Trail Race will be a very fun race and again I am running the 25k portion. I will post more on this race later.
Wish me luck for my race on Saturday!!