No surprise to most of you, I'm rebooting my approach to running. To recap: Last year I started running again after a long layoff; I decided to do it barefoot because I read it would help reduce my injury rate and risk. It didn't; by year's end I was pretty seriously injured and had to take a two month break from running.
So, now I'm starting over. With regard to shoes/barefoot/minimal weird footwear options i seem to have come full circle. I have come to the conclusion that shoes, or lack thereof, do not dictate a risk of injury. Human stupidity and stubbornness DO greatly contribute to an increased risk of injury. I'll explain. I was pretty sure that barefoot running wasn't ideal for me sometime in October (before I got hurt) but I stuck with it because I had bought completely into the idea that it was "better for me." I did all the drills, exercises and visualizations to "get it;" I took it slow, like everyone said to. I never improved as a runner. Sure, I could suffer through a 5k but I couldn't walk normally after, regardless of the pace and care I took during the run. But, I kept pushing on because "barefoot is better; I just need to adapt to it (could insert a long rant here, but will save for later date)..." Stubbornness got me hurt. Had I been more flexible about shoes I would not have gotten hurt as I did. FACT. Several times I thought I should throw on shoes for a given run, but didn't, making it worse.
My foot has improved mightily since I a.) took a break and rested and b.) gave myself permission to try out running shoes for a while. On the runs I've been doing in my comeback, my feet aren't the weak link; my lost fitness is. I hadn't built a ton of a base miles last year due to the slow build philosophy of barefoot running so I wasn't "cardio fit" yet. It didn't take much time off to lose that fitness. So I huff and puff through a mile and a half, while my legs and feet are all "wait?! that's it? let's go longer!" sure; I have aches and pains after a run, but guess what? they're no more debilitating than the stuff I had after my early barefoot runs. I am fully convinced that if I take a slow build approach this time around I will be able to run and stay healthy, longer.
After all, it's the carpenter, not the hammer that builds the house. Knowing how to manage the tools and materials I have is the key to success at this endeavor. No; I don't think barefoot running is bad and I do still think it's a great approach for a lot of people. I took a lot of good from my experience that will help me be a better runner for sure. it just isn't for me. And, this is all about me, right?